The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters published here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. Letters must be 300 words or less. Send them to Allegro, c/o Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036, or e-mail Mikael Elsila, the editor, at Melsila@Local802afm.org.
THANKS TO M.A.P.
To the Editor:
Over the years, working union jobs for Local 802, I was aware that the union had the Musicians’ Assistance Program, and that it probably did a lot of good for our members. This winter, I had an opportunity to see the extent and breadth of this marvelous program after I accidentally broke my right wrist moving a sofa into my new apartment on 52nd Street. I had to have surgery and wear a cast for two months. I just finished up intensive hand therapy. My prognosis is excellent; by the time you read this letter, I will have performed principal bassoon with the St. Cecilia and Westfield Symphony Orchestras.
For much of the winter, I was unable to work in any musical capacity. The Musicians’ Assistance Program was a godsend. Donna Deming, the intern, was a major help. She was able to get funding for me from three different sources. Through Local 802’s Emergency Relief Fund, MusiCares and the Musicians’ Foundation, my rent, health insurance and cell phone bills were paid for February, March and April! In addition, the Lester Petrillo Memorial Trust Fund kindly gave me a grant.
I am very grateful to Local 802 and the Musicians’ Assistance Program for this generosity. It’s times like this when a musician realizes what a real friend we have in our local! Thanks much, 802!
P.S. On a side note, I’d like to publicize that my new telephone number is (917) 749-7737. The number in the new Local 802 membership directory is invalid now.
Any musician can take advantage of the resources of Local 802’s Musicians’ Assistance Program. Call MAP at (212) 397-4802 to make an appointment.
RE: “LEGALLY BLONDE”
To the Editor:
The full-page “News and Views” article in the May 2008 Allegro (“The Color of Money is Blonde”) failed to mention why these payments needed to be collected.
The “Legally Blonde” production company had blatantly refused to pay musicians for a rebroadcast of the taped show as stipulated in their signed agreement. Local 802 had initiated a grievance, but was getting little response from management.
MTV then offered to pay the outstanding debt of “Legally Blonde” in return for concessions from 802 on MTV’s upcoming “Legally Blonde” reality show. This new negotiation (which I attended) resulted in the settlement payment described in the Allegro article. But the numbers alone don’t tell the whole story.
The “Legally Blonde” production company never did have to live up to their negotiated agreement. As a result, musicians were paid less than they were owed for both past and future services.
President Landolfi and Recording Supervisor Schaffner deserve praise for their effective negotiation of a fair settlement under these bizarre, but increasingly common circumstances.
That said, the important issues now include:
- How can we require employers to act in good faith and honor the agreements they have signed?
- How can we avoid being forced to settle for less payment simply because an employer refuses to pay?
These are difficult questions, but questions that need solutions if we are to remain a viable workforce. A serious article on this disturbing trend in Allegro might be a good place to start.
The writer, an Executive Board member, was part of the team that negotiated the “Legally Blonde” settlement.
To the Editor:
The New York horn community lost a dear friend and colleague on April 11. Ranier DeIntinis’ 43-year career as a member of the New York Philharmonic was legendary, and his teaching will influence horn players for generations to come.
He was a great player, a musician of the highest level, and a beautiful human being.
Dinny had a huge robust sound as well as a pianissimo that was beautifully focused and singing. When the Philharmonic was pulling out all of the stops, you could always hear Dinny, never blasting and always big.
I will never forget coming into lessons with the sweet smell of his pipe and the cowboy hat; they were trademarks. He would look down at his notes, and after a long pause say, “O.K., give me 13 percent more sound, Cheech.” I always wondered how he would come up with those seemingly random percents, but now they make sense.
He insisted on solid basics and a complete low range. Our staples were Kopprasch and also Pares scales with “Octave Lower” written on every one (in case you forgot).
He sent me a postcard one time that merely said: “Keep pumping out the middles, highs and lows!”
The joy in Dinny’s voice when I recently told him I had become a member the Philadelphia Orchestra was really from the heart. Dinny cared so much for his students. The invaluable horn knowledge and the guidance he offered us are especially comforting during times when the task is difficult.
He was incredibly positive, never bitter and gave the phrase “go for it” a whole new meaning.
Dinny’s enthusiasm for horn playing was contagious, and above all, he truly loved music and believed in the deep message it brings.
Jeffrey Lang is the associate principal horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra and principal horn of the American Symphony. He is on the faculty of Bard College and Temple University.
RE: N.Y. PHILHARMONIC TOUR OF NORTH KOREA
To the Editor:
After the Philharmonic returned from North Korea, I saw at least one headline like this: “New York Philharmonic Musicians Defiant Upon Return From North Korea.” Wasn’t this concert meant as cultural diplomacy? A better headline would be: “Philharmonic Performs in a North Korea Once Flattened by U.S. Bombers.”
Music might have softened the “axis-of-evil” attitude fostered in commercial media, but it’s not the North Korean government — no matter how brutal — that awakens anger the world over.
Koreans experienced a U.S. invasion, the devastation of expelling the U.S. Army with Chinese help, threats of atomic bombing and bacteriological warfare, massacres of civilians by American troops, and terrible suffering in rebuilding their scorched land. Our intervention in a Korean civil war that was nearly over resulted in two million dead and the destruction of almost every town in Korea.
Is our attitude towards North Korea justified because the North invaded the South? It wasn’t quite that simple. Picasso’s “Cheju Island Massacre” painting portrays a rebellion two years before the North’s invasion: more than 100,000 dead. There was great turmoil and dissatisfaction in the South. There is documentary footage of young men roped together after capture for induction into the South’s army.
Before the North’s invasion, the New York Times showed U.S. senators and representatives calling for unleashing the South’s leader Syngman Rhee on the North. Afterward, we see newsreels of Koreans welcoming the troops from the North. Throughout the war, U.S. units bore the brunt of the fighting, betraying the South’s lack of will.
For decades, the U.S. has severely punished North Koreans with strictly enforced sanctions while having friendly relations with China and Vietnam. South Korea, an “economic miracle” during the 18-year dictatorship of Gen. Park Chung Hee (assassinated in 1979) has only had a civilian government since 1988.
The writer, a trumpeter and Local 802 member, served as principal chair of the Seventh Army Symphony and was the assistant conductor of the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi for seven years. He has a Korean family, has lived in Seoul, and has performed under Lorin Maazel. He has also performed on four State Department tours.
RE: MUSIC EDUCATION
To the Editor:
I would like to thank President Landolfi for taking the lead and writing her president’s report in the April issue about the lack of music education in New York City schools. Actually, there should be more of an outcry coming from the music colleges, too. New York City can be very proud of the fact that we have three world-class conservatories as well as other fine music departments that are attached to colleges in the city. But where is their concern? They have been silent far too long! Can it possibly be that they don’t care where their students come from, as long as they get students?
The latest spin is that “98 percent” of schoolchildren have instruction in music, or art, or dance. Is this instruction coming from certified teachers? How many days a week do the students have access to instruction?
Music students are frequently forced to share instruments, wait for repair money to come in, and depend on the kind hearts of benefactors. When Project Arts was alive and well, it paid for all of the above as well as qualified and certified music teachers. Why was Project Arts killed, and the money allowed to be siphoned off to flow into the general school funding?
The reality is that daily, hands-on music instruction has been severely cut in elementary and middle schools. The high schools now only have music appreciation, with only a handful offering band, orchestra, or chorus.
Perhaps the union can help make the Department of Education pay attention to music education. I urge Local 802 to use its influence to ask pointed questions to City Hall. We simply cannot allow music in the schools to go down without so much as a whimper.