The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CVIII, No. 12December, 2008

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


To the Editor:

I recently had the pleasure of watching the book at “South Pacific” to sub there. Lisa Stokes-Chin, the bassist, told me I had to wear a tux. I thought that was a mild pain in the butt and when I got there and saw that it was the all-too-frequent mostly-covered pit with a five-foot gap for the conductor, I thought that it was a bit weird to have concert dress on.

When the band started playing — 30 pieces strong with the original Robert Russell Bennett orchestrations of some of the most iconic tunes in musical theatre — I must say I got goosebumps. What a sound!

A minute later the stage rolled back to reveal the orchestra, to tremendous applause and cheers from the audience.

I then understood about the tux — and, at the risk of sounding corny to some of my more jaded colleagues, I got a lump in my throat.

The band wasn’t off in another room or covered over the whole time. And everyone took a bow after playing the overture. Imagine!

–John Arbo


To the Editor:

I had the most wonderful experience Friday evening, Oct. 17, at the Café Carlyle. I had a guest visiting me from out of state, and he wanted to attend a cabaret here in the city. So, I looked at who was performing at 

Feinstein’s at the Regency, the Café Carlyle, and the Oak Room at the Algonquin, and decided to take him to hear John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey.

I was familiar with Jessica Molaskey’s voice, having seen her perform a number of years ago, and was already a fan. I didn’t know John Pizzarelli very well, and I didn’t know his band at all. Wow! First off, he’s an extraordinary guitarist, as well as a personable, affable, charming performer and singer. Jessica sang beautifully, as usual. And what a band he had with him: Larry Fuller on the piano (an extraordinary jazz pianist), Martin Pizzarelli (John’s brother, and an excellent bassist) as well as Tony Tedesco (a wonderful drummer).

I expected the evening to be good, because of the Café Carlyle’s tradition and history. I just didn’t know it would be spectacular. I had the grandest time hearing these amazing New York City musicians play and perform. I’m a musician myself, and it reminded me of why I love being one. If you’ve not heard this fine group of players perform, I’d run, not walk, to the Café Carlyle and take a friend with you. Kudos to John, Jessica and the superior players in their band for a transforming musical evening.

–Phil Hall


To the Editor:

Should the president of our local use her president’s report to express what amounts to her own unofficial, unchallenged and un-seconded minutes of a rank-and-file meeting? Whether intentional or not, that is exactly what President Landolfi has done in her president’s report in the November 2008 issue of Allegro. 

As former chair of the Broadway Theatre Committee for most of the prior two Local 802 administrations, I feel compelled to question the judgment of President Landolfi when she wrote for all to read — including management — about the pro- and con- deliberations of an issue before the Broadway Theatre Committee.

I am not referring positively or negatively about her position regarding the issue at hand. Far more important, in my opinion, is what I consider the violation of trust she demonstrated by openly publishing her perception of the arguments that took place at a Theatre Committee meeting.

In addition to elected delegates and alternates, Broadway Theatre Committee meetings are open to any Broadway community musician. The exception is anybody related to management, including house contractors. This protects the individual delegates attending a meeting as well as the rank-and-file committee that finds itself across the table from management from time to time. Why bother barring management from committee meetings if the president is going to use the public forum of the president’s report to discuss those meetings? 

What if, after further deliberations, it turns out that majority opinion is contrary to President Landolfi’s opinion? By printing her view in the president’s report, she would essentially be saying to management, “Hey, I agree with you. It’s the Theatre Committee that refuses to go along.” For whom is she thus advocating? 

I believe this president’s report runs the risk of stifling dissent, but could it be that was its purpose?

–Larry Rawdon

Local 802 President Mary Landolfi replies: A careful reading of the report will confirm that any support offered for the idea of a management proposal on this issue was quite conditional — for instance, “if we are fortunate…

the proposal will make sense” and “we have to…make sure the proposal is beneficial.” Nothing in it would prevent the administration from opposing a management offer if our final analysis is that it is not in the best interests of musicians. Our opposition would be all the more forceful if we demonstrate willingness at least to listen in the beginning. The most important idea espoused by the article is a general one — that we should be open to examining proposals so that we do not miss opportunities for us because of preconceived notions and biases. In other words, keep an open mind; thorough discussion and debate — even if we are not initially in agreement — is the best avenue to good decisions. My article was intended to stimulate that debate, not to stifle it.