Greetings to all. The big news this month is that the musicians of the New York City Opera Orchestra are performing with special guests in a historic one-night concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21 at City Center. This concert celebrates the 70th anniversary of the opera and will be directed by former music director George Manahan. All proceeds will benefit Local 802’s Emergency Relief Fund. Tickets start as low as $25, so I’m hoping that every Local 802 member will consider attending. Please tell your friends! Featured singers include Lauren Flanigan, Joélle Harvey, Jennifer Rivera, Ryan MacPherson, Mark Delavan and Sidney Outlaw.
Seventy years ago, on Feb. 21, 1944, New York City Opera showcased Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” at City Center. The beloved company went on to launch the careers of many of the opera world’s most accomplished singers, including Beverly Sills, Placido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Maralin Niska, Shirley Verrett, Tatiana Troyanos, Jerry Hadley, Catherine Malfitano and Samuel Ramey, to name just a few. New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia called it the “People’s Opera” in recognition of the company’s mission to make opera accessible to a wide audience at a reasonable cost.
The Feb. 21 concert will be performed by the full 60-piece opera orchestra and will include selections from “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” “Candide,” “Carmen,” “L’etoile,” “Giulio Cesare,” “Malcolm X,” “Martha” and “Die tote Stadt.”
To purchase your tickets now, visit www.NyCityCenter.org or call (212) 581-1212. See you there!
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
February is Black History month, and we have a number of exciting articles in this issue that deal with black history:
- An exclusive look at the Symphony of the New World, which was the country’s first fully-integrated classical symphony, founded by members of Local 802.
- We take a look at how black professional musicians found their footing in the early musicians’ union and how they protected themselves from exploitation.
- Todd Weeks had the chance to speak with internationally acclaimed bass player Rufus Reid in an exclusive interview for Allegro.
Also in this issue, we are focusing on the next generation of musicians, who are our shining hope for the future of classical music (and live music in general)! We are taking a special look at the National Youth Orchestra (a project of Carnegie Hall) and the New York Youth Symphony. Lynne Bond and Bettina Covo did a terrific job with these articles.
Read about Inside Broadway’s latest production, “Cinderella.” I’m proud that Local 802 was recently offered a seat on the board of this important organization that is sharing the joy of live musical theatre with the next generation of kids.
We are announcing a new booking agency, called First Choice Musicians. Every gig booked through the agency will be under a union contract, which is great news for musicians.
Our monthly photo spread features the New York Pops. Check out some great candid photos of Pops musicians at a recent rehearsal.
If you play under any of Local 802’s collective bargaining agreements covering symphonic, opera or ballet, you may or may not know about the ins and outs of “peer review.” Check out Harvey Mars’ story.
Finally, please read our new application procedures for the union’s Anne Walker scholarship.
At last, some good news from the orchestral world. First, the 15-month lockout of the musicians of the Minnesota Symphony is over. Musicians have ratified a new contract. As Allegro went to press, it was still not clear how the lockout and its conclusion will affect the dynamics of orchestral negotiations in this country. The lockout began when musicians were confronted with a management demand for a very large pay cut. The final agreement does include a pay cut, but a much smaller one. Minnesota musicians have released a statement that says, in part, “Keeping salaries in the top ten was a critical issue as it allows the orchestra to attract and retain the finest musicians in the country, building on the tradition of excellence that has been cultivated by the community over many generations. The agreement achieves this priority.” We’ll have a full analysis in the next issue. Suffice it to say, we are pleased that musicians are back to work and that the Minnesota audiences are once again enjoying the sounds of the orchestra.
One day later, musicians in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra ratified a new three-year-contract that includes annual wage increases of 2 percent, raising minimum salaries to nearly $88,000 in year three. The size of the orchestra will remain at 87 (including two librarians). Season length remains 36 weeks, plus four weeks paid vacation. Pension was untouched.
OFF BROADWAY ORGANIZING
It pays to work union. Local 802 recently updated our area standards that govern musicians’ pay and benefits when they work in nonprofit theatres. Musicians also won union contracts for the Off Broadway productions of “Everafter,” “A Christmas Story,” and “An American in Paris.”
If you work Off Broadway and want the wages and benefits you deserve, call (212) 245-4802 and ask for the theatre department.
MORE MONEY FOR THE ARTS
Americans for the Arts recently reported that the new budget in Congress includes $146 million in funding for the NEA.
This is a welcome increase from last year’s sequester cut, and we avoided the disastrous proposal from the House of Representatives to reduce the agency by 49 percent!
Also included is $25 million in funding for the Arts In Education program at the U.S. Department of Education, which had previously seen efforts to either zero out or consolidate all funds.
This concludes a very turbulent and often heavily divisive year that saw a fractious appropriations process and a government shutdown that lasted 16 days. For more information, see www.AmericansForTheArts.org, which supplied the information here.
WHO GOES TO BROADWAY?
The Broadway League recently released its annual demographics report on Broadway audiences. This report covers the 2012-2013 season.
Notably, the newest study reveals that tourists accounted for 66 percent of all Broadway tickets, up from 63 percent in the 2011-2012 season. The number of attendances by domestic tourists has grown from 3.4 million in 1999 to 5 million in 2013.
International visitors comprised almost 23 percent of admissions, the highest percentage in recorded history. This translated to 2.6 million tickets, another record-breaker. The proportion of suburbanites was the lowest on record, at 17 percent or just under 2 million tickets.
In the 2012-2013 season, the average age of the Broadway attendee was 42.5 years old, slightly younger than the past few seasons. This season attracted the highest percentage of theatregoers age 18 – 24 (14 percent or 1.6 million admissions) in the history of this analysis. There were just over one million admissions by kids and teens in the 2012 – 2013 season.
In the 2012-2013 season, 78 percent of admissions represented Caucasian theatregoers, the same as the previous year. Although the audience is still primarily Caucasian, there is an increase in the diversity of audiences. In particular, Hispanics have grown to 8 percent of the total theatre-going audience, representing approximately 880,000 admissions. This is an increase from two years ago of 2 percent, or 170,000 theatregoers. The percentage of Hispanic theatregoers was the second highest in the history of this analysis.
Forty-one percent of respondents said they purchased their tickets online. The use of the internet to purchase tickets has been on the rise for the past decade, with telephone sales declining accordingly. The percentage of visits to the box office has remained somewhat consistent over the past decade.
Reflecting a trend of the past few decades, 68 percent of the audiences were female. Playgoers also tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees. The typical play attendee saw seven shows in the past year; the musical attendee, three. The average Broadway theatregoer reported attending 4 shows in the previous 12 months. Word-of-mouth was the most influential factor in show selection.
This information came from the League’s press report on the study.
MOZART IN THE JUNGLE
Amazon.com recently produced its own 30-minute pilot, for a possible new series. The show is called “Mozart in the Jungle,” and it’s based on former Local 802 member Blair Tindall’s tell-all memoir. It stars Bernadette Peters, Malcolm McDowell and others. Originally, Amazon had wanted to hire the Queens Symphony to impersonate the New York Philharmonic in the movie, but it eventually hired two community ensembles: the New Westchester Symphony Orchestra and the Chelsea Symphony. Musicians didn’t actually perform; they mimed their instruments on-camera in what is referred to in the AFM film agreement as a “sideline” engagement. Local 802 worked in close coordination with SAG to ensure that musicians were covered under an AFM contract. (Specifically, it was the New Media Sideletter of the TV/Film agreement.) David Sheldon was the main contact from Local 802 on this project, along with Matt Allen at the AFM.
One of the many duties of the AFM’s International Executive Board (IEB) is to take care of recommendations or resolutions that the AFM Convention deems more appropriately handled by the IEB itself. One of those resolutions referred to the IEB was submitted by President Joe Boettger of AFM Local 542 (Flint, Mich.). In a nutshell, the idea put forth by President Boettger would reduce the number of individual conferences by consolidating them into larger regional conferences. For example, here in the northeast, instead of individual conferences for New York, New Jersey, New England and Penn/Del/Mar (Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland), there would be one conference that would include all of these regions. In case you are wondering, the local conferences are set up to be a network of information gathering and sharing between the various locals that participate. The conferences are not only useful in helping locals communicate with each other, but they also present an opportunity for the AFM to give updates and report on the business of the Federation to a more comprehensive audience. Over the years, we have seen less and less involvement by locals in their own conferences. With the further decline in participant locals, the need for this type of consolidation has become more important. I support this effort and will be working with the IEB – as well as with the various leaders of the affected local conferences – to create a more efficient and interactive structure.
Miguel Santana has joined the Local 802 Organizing Department as our newest business representative. Miguel has dedicated his professional career to service and brings with him practical experiences spanning over 20 years in the nonprofit, public, private, labor and political sectors. He served as the Central Labor Council’s U.S. presidential campaign operations coordinator for the Bronx. He earned a master’s degree in urban affairs and has fostered relationships with community leaders, elected officials, local media, businesses and numerous government agencies. Miguel tells us that he looks forward to utilizing his skills for the benefit of working musicians especially in the club date and Latin fields. In fact, he’s our first organizer in a long time who is fluent in Spanish. Miguel can be reached at (212) 245-4802, ext. 146.
In last month’s Requiem column, the photo credit for deceased member Bobby Thomas was incorrect. The photo was actually taken by Marc Thomas.