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.
DON’T BITE THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU
In “The Best and Worst of 2013” in the January issue, Tom Olcott accuses the Koch brothers of using their contributions to gain entrance to the board of Lincoln Center. If so, so what? People have always contributed to the arts in order to be associated with prestigious arts institutions. Tom dislikes how the money was spent (even though it wasn’t his money) and even though everyone knew up front that the contributions were not intended for promotion of ballet or opera, but for renovating and providing an operating endowment for the theatre. As much as we musicians like to imagine that it is only our artistry that sells tickets, a nice-looking theatre is a huge attraction.
I suspect Tom dislikes the Kochs less for their desire to hobnob with arts folks than for their conservative politics practiced elsewhere. Too bad. Without philanthropists, we may never have had Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall or the new Koch Theatre. I suggest that we all would do better to put aside our political prejudices and stop biting the hands that help the arts.
WHICH MOZART IS THE FAKE? (BOTH OF THEM?)
In last month’s Allegro, I was pleased to read the terrific article by Paula Eisenstein on Leo Zeitlin. Not only was it informative, it’s a lovely example of how research should be done. No guesswork – only solid documentation available for anyone who wants to check up on it!
On the other hand, the article in the same issue on the Mozart portraits – “Which one is the fake?” – caught my eye, because the correct answer, I have reason to believe, is “both”! My source is Michael Lorenz, an expert on Mozart iconography, who earned his doctorate in musicology from the University of Vienna. Dr. Lorenz is a renowned expert on many aspects of Mozart’s life as well as being one of the relatively rare experts on Mozart’s portraiture. He has debunked the authenticity of the “Snuff Box Mozart” (see photo, below right) at great length.
I remember when the Mozarteum published their “find” of the snuff box portrait. Shortly after, Dr. Lorenz published his account, which can be found here: www.bitly.com/mozart-portrait. It is a fascinating read, and I think Allegro readers will agree.
There was also a most interesting exchange of ideas about this portrait on the discussion list of the American Musicological Society, when the Mozarteum’s announcement was first made. Someone pointed out that the image does not, in fact, “look like” Mozart, because we really don’t know what he looked like at that age. The lovely child depicted on the snuff box could be almost any well-fed pretty child of that era. People have done all sorts of analyses of the shape of the nose and the distance between the eyes. The conclusion is that there is nothing to support the claim that this can be definitely identified as a portrait of Mozart.
A CLARK TERRY STORY
That was a beautiful interview with Clark Terry in the January issue. Peter Zimmerman wrote how Clark loved to get involved with youngsters who had an interest in jazz so I would like to comment on that. On the Labor Day weekend of 2006, my “America’s Youngest Jazz Band” performed at the Sweet and Hot Jazz Festival in Los Angeles, honoring Clark Terry. A person named Ms. Soladar – a good friend of Clark’s – asked him to stay and listen to my band of kids, who were aged 6 to 13. To my amazement, he sat in his wheelchair and stayed for a full hour. It was such a thrill for my musicians and especially for me, being a trumpet player and idolizing this man for years. I have pictures of this event with Clark and the kids. It has to be the highlight of my 35-year career.
ON ORCHESTRA BOARDS
In his legal column in the January issue, Harvey Mars writes, “…I would venture to guess that [orchestra] board members are rare who understand the importance of their function and role.”
For the past several years I have served on the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Board of Trustees. As stipulated in our CBA, six members of the orchestra serve on the board with full voting privileges. It is an honor to do so.
I am consistently awed by the level of dedication, passion, wisdom, and generosity of the vast majority of NJSO trustees. They volunteer their time, donate their money, and work tirelessly to insure that the orchestra succeeds in its mission because they believe in the crucial importance of the continuation of live symphony orchestra performances.
They may be rare but they do exist.
I retired in 1995 after 26 years with “Sesame Street.” Now, 18 years later, they are still paying residuals…thanks to the AFM and to Local 802. Amazing! Thanks to all!
A TRIBUTE TO SAM ULANO
January 2, 2014 was truly a sad day for me. That day, the great Sam Ulano passed on. Sam was an integral part of the history of pedagogy, and completely original in his approach. I met him through Gene Jackson. For the better part of two years, I went to the midtown Manhattan studio where he taught. It was a tiny room lined wall-to-wall with books he had written – easily over a thousand. At his advanced age, he was a youthful, jovial and positive person, of infinite energy. His sticks were always in hand, and he was always ready with a witty reply. Sam had an utter dedication to teaching. Through him, I learned sight reading, not to be afraid and not to ever stop for an error. Sam was a shining example of how music can make everyday life incredibly beautiful.
Sam, I will think of you always. And I will always study the myriad books that you gave me. You are a legend to me.
(Editor’s note: We’ll publish an obituary for Sam Ulano in the next issue.)
WHERE’S THE MELODY?
I read Harvey Mars’s article in the November issue, entitled “Dude, Where’s the Melody?” I am an arranger and composer with more than 40 years of experience, and I was the chief writer for the Count Basie orchestra from 1990 to 2001. A lot of the work I do now is exactly what your article title addresses. While your article content about “writing on spec” is important, the point of your article title is, I think, more important to young writers.
I do a lot of work like what your “young composer” was asked to do. When the client informed him that she could not recognize the material, it meant that he missed the mark. I recently did a jazz adaption of a Bruno Mars recording for the University of Houston jazz band. I spent many hours doing a sketch before entering it into Finale so the client would say, “That’s the song I asked for. Good job!”
It takes a lot of work and thought to merge your ideas with the original piece. My clients are always satisfied because I make sure my work reflects the original song. When my Finale work is near completion, I send an electronic recording to the client for feedback. This makes the client part of the process, and helps to ensure his or her satisfaction. This is the real lesson.
In your story, the arranger didn’t earn his money so the client was right (in her mind) not to pay. This is what professionals do. And why we are referred to as such.
REMEMBERING ROY CAMPBELL
I’m sure most of you have heard by now of the tragic and sudden passing of Roy Campbell Jr., who died on Jan. 9 at the age of 61. Roy, in addition to being a great horn player and wonderful human being, was our bandmate, friend, and brother in the struggle for musicians’ rights, and against racial and economic injustice. Roy served on the Avant Jazz Committee at Local 802. He was present at the Tonic action to call attention to the need for public funding for jazz, he was there for the Knitting Factory Jazz Festival organizing drives, and countless other times in the past.
We mourn his passing, and will remember Roy always in our hearts and actions.
The family is accepting donations in Roy’s memory to Arts for Art. See www.ArtsForArt.org/support/donations to make a donation.
CHEERS FOR THE BROOKLYN PHIL
As an old alumnus of Local 802, I want to give my appreciation of the high quality of Allegro, which I eagerly devour from cover to cover (even including the ads!). I’d also like to share a song with fellow readers. For several years, I served on the board of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and I composed a song dedicated to the orchestra that appears in my recently published book, “For Better or Verse.” It marked the orchestra’s 30th anniversary and was to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Here are the lyrics:
On the teeming streets of Brooklyn back in 1954,
Where Flatbush meets Atlantic on the gray Gowanus shore,
An orchestra was born that’s brought us pleasures by the score,
As the band goes playing on.
Sound your dominant and tonic
Stem the deficit that’s chronic.
All hail the Brooklyn Philharmonic
As it rounds out thirty years.
We’ll renew your ties to Haydn, you will rediscover Bach.
Your horizons we will widen from the classics to the rock.
And best of all, you’ll do it without going into hock.
As the band goes playing on.
We gather up subscribers as a stone will gather moss.
We’ve built a mighty arsenal to get our theme across.
We’ve got a secret weapon, and his name is Lukas Foss
As the band goes playing on.
Our story is replete with tales that Hoffmann couldn’t tell.
Of triumphs that we’ve mastered and disasters that befell.
But the world is now our oyster in our brand new Kaplan shell
As the band goes playing on.