The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. E-mail letters to Allegro@Local802afm.org or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. Letters must be no more than 300 words.
HURRICANE SOAKS STUDIO
I live in Long Beach, which was hit very hard by the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. At the time of the hurricane, I was in California, touring with the show “Memphis.” I wasn’t too concerned about flooding on my street because we were fine during last year’s Hurricane Irene. We live about five blocks from the ocean. During the storm, I was in Sacramento, watching the Weather Channel and trying to find out any information I could as the storm progressed.
We have a water alarm in the basement, and I knew that as long as that didn’t go off that the house would be fine. About 7:30 p.m. E.S.T., I received a text saying “Basement Water Alarm!” We weren’t sure of the extent of the damage for about four days, as my wife was out of town for work as well. We weren’t even sure if we still had a house in Long Beach. With all the cell phones down as well, information was very hard to get from 2,000 miles away.
Fortunately, the damage was limited to the basement, which had about three feet of water in it. Unfortunately, that was where I did all my practicing and stored my music and instruments. I had a trombone, a euphonium and an inherited accordion go for an extended swim down there. The brass will be fine with some repair work but the accordion was a total loss. I lost a large portion of my music library consisting of published sheet music and a number of original compositions and arrangements as well (see photo below). We have since replaced our boiler, hot water heater and washer/dryer, and are currently renovating the basement.
Long Beach still looks like a war zone in many parts, and the boardwalk was scattered all over town, but I know it will be back.
[Editor’s note: for those who still need hurricane help, see our list of resources at www.bitly.com/HurricaneResources]
DON’T CUT MILITARY MUSIC
I recently read a letter in my local newspaper up here in Hudson, NY. A neighbor had proposed that the government save money by cutting military bands. He wrote “Recorded music can do the whole job,” and “Military bands are a mere frill to [the Pentagon].”
It reminds me of a story about Winston Churchill. During the Nazi blitz on London, Churchill was asked to close the theaters. His response was, ‘’Good God, man, what the hell are we fighting for?’’ Obviously, the arts were more to Mr. Churchill than “a mere frill.”
It may come as a surprise to some that music does not magically come out of a loudspeaker. It is produced by highly skilled human beings. Recorded music is never a substitute. Life without live music would be unthinkable.
Replacing live musicians with recorded music sends the wrong message to young people, that music is a pre-packaged, commercial product disconnected from hands-on human participation.
Furthermore, a military life without live music would be unbearable. Live music adds immeasurable meaning to the difficult military life, from the playing of taps and reveille to the stirring music of John Philip Sousa. Military bands are a long, enduring tradition and part of our history as a nation, and some of the greatest American music was written for military bands. Musicians such as John Coltrane, Glenn Miller and Junior Mance all played in military bands.
Like other workers who receive professional training in the military (doctors, pilots and mechanics, for example), musicians and music teachers often start in military bands. The skills they learn and hone there serve as the economic basis for making a living in music as well as sharing music’s aesthetic joys with others as civilians. Military bands also provide a viable non-combat alternative for conscientious objectors.
REMEMBERING SAM GENOVESE
My father, Santino “Sam” Genovese, 94, a trumpeter and a Local 802 member since 1943, died on July 24, 2011. We didn’t submit an obituary to Allegro at the time, so this is his tribute now.
My father was blessed with an extraordinary gift and passion for music. He blew his trumpet with all he had and had exceptionally powerful lungs and artistry. He performed with notable musicians all over New York, New Jersey and beyond, including a band called the Five Shades of Blue.
Sam played during the golden age of big band music. He had a loving and kind heart and was a man of faith. We are thankful for being blessed to have known and loved him. He shared his music with all the people who came into his life.
Although my father lived an extremely long and blessed life, it was a short and sudden illness that took him to the Heavens. Up among the angels, this talented trumpeter will continue to blow his horn, while sharing his kindness, sense of humor, and passion for music for all those who have preceded him. He will be missed but will be kept alive through his music and loving memories he shared with his large family. The world is a much classier place to have had 94 years with Santino “Sam” Genovese – that is for sure!
My dad is survived by my mother Margaret, who was his wife of 72 years. After living in the Bronx their whole lives, they moved to Florida eight years ago to enjoy their golden years. My dad is also survived by my brother Robert and his wife Patricia, my sister (who is also named Patricia) and my own wife Carol, as well as 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
A TRIBUTE TO PETE SIMS
Pete Sims (1938-2012) was my friend for 60 years. As classmates at the High School of Music and Art I was drawn not only to his incandescent musicianship but his easy intelligence, good humor and fierce integrity.
In spite of much attention from the highest ranks of jazz musicians, his high standards about what, where, how and with whom he wanted to play kept him from a more prosperous career in music.
From time to time I would approach him about playing for record dates or shows but it was apparent that the seriousness with which he took his music would preclude his taking direction from a leader, whether me or anyone else, and he would politely pass on the gig.
Hence, his second career as a lawyer, at which he showed wisdom, intelligence and principle equal to that in his life as a musician.
Every so often I would approach him and talk about music, food, politics, life and old times. He was his own man, and the most serious, dedicated musician I’ve ever known.
I REMEMBER CHARLIE
Charlie Russo and I were born and raised in Pittsburgh. After his Army service and my Navy service – both in World War II – we enrolled in the Pittsburgh Musical Institute on the G.I. Bill. After two years, Charlie went to New York and earned a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. His long hours of practice paid off, and he became a successful freelancer.
I saw Charlie again when he came through Pittsburgh on a tour of “Porgy and Bess.” He suggested that I leave Pittsburgh for New York. Charlie was always willing to host his Pittsburgh musician friends anytime they moved to New York to try to make it there. Some of those friends included Charlie Aiken, Jerry Kaminsky, Earl Chapin – and me, with three kids and a wife.
Charlie was a first-call clarinet player. He worked with the greats, like Serkin, Rubinstein and Stravinsky. He played in the orchestra of the New York City Opera. And he was a great jazz clarinetist, too.
Peace be with you, homey.
[Editor’s note: see our obituary for Charlie Russo in this issue.]
IN MEMORY OF PETER ROSENFELD
I’m writing in tribute of cellist Peter Rosenfeld (1936-2012). I was a member, with Peter, of the Leonia Chamber Musicians. We met as teenagers during a summer strings program at Yale University, and it was Peter and his wife Lucy who persuaded me and my husband to move to Leonia from New York, as they had done.
Peter was just a wonderful musician and a wonderful colleague, and such a generous person. Not only did he play beautifully, but he’d help with anything. He was a favorite amongst us.
[Editor’s note: See our obituary for Peter Rosenfeld in this issue.]
HURRICANE BENEFIT CONCERT WAS A SUCCESS
I am happy to announce that my music services company, Castle Dream Productions, Inc., in conjunction with TraxFast Music and with help from Moonlight Cruisin’ Entertainment, Holiday Inn, Rotary and Lions clubs and the Mt. Kisco Chamber of Commerce, held a benefit fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Sandy on Dec. 2 at the Mt. Kisco Holiday Inn.
The event featured a 14-piece band that Lisa Ratner and I put together featuring yours truly – rock cellist Von Cello – Sandy Farina (co-star of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts’ Club Band), Lisa Ratner (songwriter of hits for Barbara Streisand), jingle singer Billy Ayers, Rusty Ford (bassist for Lothar and the Hand People), John DiGuillio (drummer for Little Anthony), Westchester Idol winner Jackie DiMaggio, Yonkers Idol winner Alexis Newman, Schuyler Hemmerdinger, Luke Montgomery, Jaimie Stern, Tony V, Freddie Lando, and Patrick Peronne as Elvis!
A silent auction and raffle were part of the festivities overseen by the Bedford-Armonk Rotary. The Holiday Inn provided wonderful food as did several other local restaurants including the Mt. Kisco Diner, Ladle of Love and Bedford Bagels and Bakery.
The event was a great success raising approximately $8,000, which will be split between the Stephen Siller Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and the Staten Island Rotary Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.
I would like to extend a special thanks to my wife, Karen Minsky, whose brainchild this was and who got this whole thing started with a phone call to Robert Trotta of the Holiday Inn.
Preparing, running and dealing with the aftermath of this event has taken a tremendous amount of time but we are all proud and thankful to have been able to do something significant to help those who have suffered so greatly from the devastating storm.