Frank Leone, the 14-year president of Local 369 (Las Vegas, NV), is impressed with the turnaround of orchestra’s being hired for the Strip. After all, the membership of orchestras in casinos was around 2,000 people back in 1989, and it has dwindled down to about 600 currently. However, that all appears to be changing recently.
“The business is curious as we know,” Leone says, “However, one of my mantras is that live music validates a performer, and a large amount of it validates one even more.”
One of the more popular shows currently in Vegas is Celine Dion performing with a full 30 person orchestra. The orchestra isn’t in the pit either, they are in full view on the stage.
Leon claims this is something the audience loves to see. “The public knows they’re getting the biggest bang for their buck possible. No one should complain about the price of the ticket when they know they’re getting 30 people.”
Leone admits that while orchestras are one of the best ways to enjoy a performance, they can come with some big overheads. To cover this, Leon explains that the musicians drop down one pay scale level. Essentially, the casino is getting the 12-piece string section for the price of a no-strings band.
It’s hard to say what the future will hold, but for right now, it certainly is heading in the right direction.