Welcome back! I hope everyone had a great summer and that you were able to relax and find some respite from the city’s record heat.
A unique perk of our jobs at Local 802 is to hear our musicians at work. As you know by now, our building is fully open for business, and it’s been motivating to see members in person and hear groups rehearsing in the club room again.
In the past, summer used to slow down a bit, but those days appear to be gone forever. Since June, we’ve negotiated a new, three-year contract with the Westchester Philharmonic, and started discussions or negotiations with nine of the 24 freelance orchestras under my purview.
I love to visit our orchestras in person, but access has been hindered by both scheduling and Covid restrictions. This summer, however, I was able to hear the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra on opening night, playing to an exuberant, packed crowd in Damrosch Park. It was an enormously successful evening — as was the entire season — yet there are concerns regarding the orchestra’s future. This orchestra is truly a gem that must be preserved! Despite the issues discussed in this New York Times article, we must not lose hope that the orchestra will continue to survive and flourish well into the future.
In July, I was pleased to attend my first conference of the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association. Although Local 802 has not had a ROPA member orchestra since the demise of the Long Island Philharmonic, it was great to exchange ideas with other local officers as well as meet and speak with delegates from around the country. The topics discussed were timely and universal, such as negotiation and organizing strategies; diversity, equity and inclusion; and new developments in electronic media. I urge all Local 802 freelance orchestras to consider joining this organization. I’m happy to help facilitate and provide more information.
Finally, please join me for the first Classical Musicians’ Forum of the season on Sept. 21 at 5pm. Barring any new Covid restrictions, we will meet in person in the Local 802 club room. All orchestra committee members are urged to attend. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to email@example.com.