The Musicians’ Voice

Volume 117, No. 1January, 2017

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 or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. Letters must be no more than 300 words.


My wife Sharon and I are in shock and mourning. Ever since election night, I have been wearing only black (very unusual for me!) and refusing to look at any news…mainly because I don’t want to see that person’s face in our house, or hear his name, or listen to his latest affronts. It really pains me to say this, in this great land which gave the world Louis Armstrong, but here is the sad fact: I am ashamed of my country.

–Scott Robinson

I find myself torn between President Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s admonitions to give Trump an opportunity to lead and a temporary suspension of judgment, and a sense of alarm over the growing list of appointees or potential ones. Divisive, extremist figures like Bannon, Flynn, Sessions, Ebell, Arpaio and Giuliani do not inspire confidence.

I also am a firm believer in many of Obama’s signature initiatives, such as Obamacare, immigration reform, the Paris Accord, environmental protection in general, and even the TPP – which I think is poorly understood by both sides. I am very concerned that his hard-fought legacy for the country will be arbitrarily dismantled. In the case of climate change any backpedaling could do irreversible harm. Although I consider myself to be an optimist, I think the best possible scenario is that the country will be able to endure the coming onslaught of mismanagement and force some kind of mid-course correction in 2018.

–Jonathan Gordon

Elmar Oliveira. Photo: Tucker Densley

Elmar Oliveira. Photo: Tucker Densley


The first American winner of the coveted Tchaikovsky violin contest, Elmar Oliveira is alive and well at 66, and I want to pay him a well-deserved tribute in these pages. Elmar has been a member of Local 802 since 1969. When I grew up and played around the New York area, he was known by all young string players as a brilliant violinist who played with courage and flair. His no-nonsense approach harkens back to the golden age greats. He makes no bones about his love for the heroes of the past who played violin with talent and honesty – the same winning combination that Elmar possesses. Even though he lives in this age, Elmar is a throwback to a time where beautiful violin playing was devoid of unnecessary frills. And yet he can take any violin concerto and put his own stamp upon it. He plays just as convincingly with a $5 million Stradivarius or an inexpensive factory-made violin. Ostentatiousness is not his thing, nor is politicking around to further his career. Younger players should look no further for their newest violin idol – he has been in your midst for generations though you may have forgotten him. We are grateful to still be able to hear Elmar Oliveira play so beautifully!

–Eric Shumsky

Sherman Frank

Sherman Frank


Thank you for the tribute to Sherman Frank in your November issue. As a young musician, most of my prior experience had been strictly academic. Then I met Sherman Frank, who mentored me in an entirely different direction: the musical theatre. We developed a respectful social chemistry and camaraderie. On and off for 40 years, I had the pleasure of assisting him in many of his pursuits, staring in 1960 with the Oldsmobile industrial shows, ending in 2001 at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre productions.

Sherm had it all – prime classical and instrumental training, endless theatrical experience (and he was handsome, too). This high level of musicality was most evident from the podium, where he was extremely demanding of his players to get it right. He was also an enabler. Case in point: knowing I had purchased a Moog synthesizer in the 60s, he connected me with Gershon Kingsley and the First Moog Quartet, which eventually led us to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. My symphonic career was thus born. I owe it all to Sherman Frank. Thank you, my good friend, and condolences to Lillian, Suzy and Ricky.

–Eric Knight

Connie Crothers at the 2012 Vision Festival. Photo: Peter Gannuskin /

Connie Crothers at the 2012 Vision Festival. Photo: Peter Gannuskin /


Pianist Connie Crothers, a member of Local 802 since 1969, died on Aug. 13, 2016 at the age of 75.

Connie Crothers was a sister, one of the greatest pianists of our time, a most beloved teacher and a real friend to more people than I can know.

She has gone home and now we are lost. Who will rally us, get us each to be our best? She had so much to give and she gave it with such enthusiasm and love.

She was under-recognized. I feel sad for those who didn’t have the chance to hear her music and feel her great love. She loved people and she loved music, all music, and it poured out of her with unrelenting intensity, precision, and passion.

–Patricia Parker
The writer is the founder and
artistic director of Vision Festival.