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. 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, editor, at Allegro@Local802afm.org
“TONY N’ TINA” MUSICIANS SAY THANKS
I was on my way to work on Saturday, Oct. 17. It was a quarter to six when I got the phone call. The stage manager said: “Don’t come to work tonight. We are not using the band.”
I was in shock.
Just a week earlier the new producers for my show, “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” shook my hand and reassured me that my job as bass player for the show was not in jeopardy.
Now, after 19 years of playing the show, I was being told that I was out of a job.
No reason was given; just that I was not to report to work.
I was stunned, but I felt calm because I knew that I and my fellow band members had Local 802 to back us up.
As she has done so many times before, Principal Theatre Rep Mary Donovan came to the musicians’ rescue.
Mary reassured me that there was a valid and binding union contract and that the producers would have to come to the table and abide by the agreement.
The union, including Local 802 attorney Harvey Mars, worked tirelessly for four weeks trying to get the producers to respond to the union’s requests.
Local 802 organized and held two demonstrations in front of the venue on 46th Street and Broadway, with “Broadway” being the key word.
People come from all over the world to see a show expecting live music. We were gratified to see so many fellow union members come out to support our cause.
Even though this was a stressful experience, it was also a reminder of the great strength of our union and the strength of the solidarity of our members.
Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” has been a great experience for me. The people are really a part of the show and they are there to have a good time. The band was intended to be in the show from the onset of its creation.
In my few years in the show, the band has fulfilled the obligation of keeping the crowd in good spirits and keeping the pace of the show alive.
It was a surprise to us to be locked out of this long-running show. The support of the union has been most instrumental and we are all very grateful that our union brothers and sisters stood in support of us at this time.
I would like to mention that both sides of our membership came together in solidarity for this cause. Special thanks go out to Mary Donovan along with Harvey Mars. Also, President Mary Landolfi, Bill Dennison, Tino Gagliardi, Ethan Fein, all of the subs and all others who came out and supported us. We are happy to be back on the bandstand. Thank you, Local 802!
MORE THANKS TO 802
I wish to express our deep gratitude for Local 802’s contribution of $250 to help underwrite the travel expenses for 19 of New York City’s most dedicated and talented musicians to the winter conference of the New York State School Music Association in Rochester, New York.
These musicians, who represent our future, will now have the opportunity to join 850 high school musicians to rehearse and perform under the batons of conductors drawn from some of the most prestigious schools of music at the university level. This is an experience that will remain with them the rest of their lives.
We have all decried the loss of many music programs in the city schools. The actions and policies of Chancellor Joel Klein have marginalized music education in New York City and denied funding for the Office of Arts Education, beyond that required to employ a skeleton staff.
Without the contributions of Local 802, the principals of the students’ schools, and the Music Educators Association, I fear many of our All State candidates could not afford to accept nomination.
I salute your local’s foresight and outstanding contribution toward this endeavor.
The writer is a representative of the New York State School Music Association.
My dear friend, Ms. Phyllis Hill, a long-time commercials contractor, died on Sept. 26, in Long Island, due to complications from cancer.
Ms. Hill was a contractor with the former Lucas/McFaul Music, a commercial music production company from the mid 1970’s to 1990’s.
She worked during the Golden Era of jingles, an era when the best New York City studio musicians were hired.
During the Golden Era some of the finest originally composed music written and recorded were for commercials for advertising agencies.
Ms. Hill worked on major advertising campaigns such as GE’s “We Bring Good Things To Life” for BBDO, Maxwell House Coffee’s “Good To The Last Drop” for Ogilvy and Mather, and many others.
She is survived by her partner Gary Gittens, and her brothers Alvin and Archie Hill.
This year is the fifth anniversary of the death of my mother, pianist Gertrude “Trudy” Silver, also known in music circles as Trudy Lewis. She had been a member of Local 802 since 1938.
Trudy came of age as a solo pianist at the height of the Swing Era. During the 1940’s and 50’s, she performed at some of the most celebrated jazz venues in the New York Metropolitan area, including Swing Street’s historic Hickory House, where she hobnobbed with Duke Ellington, who designated Trudy his “favorite pianist” and dropped in nightly to hear her music, and the legendary Bill Miller’s Riviera. She accompanied icons like Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra.
Trudy had a long-running engagement at Manhattan’s Dixie Hotel and countless other gigs. She was also a featured radio performer.
Her signature sound, influenced by Art Tatum, with whom she exchanged riffs, was characterized by a remarkably rich, full-keyboard stride style that gave the effect of an orchestra. She used her quicksilver fluidity and unique touch on the keyboard, in her own words, to make the instrument “sing.”
Trudy Silver held several degrees from New York University, including an M.A. in music. For 25 years, until his death in 1966, she was married to her childhood sweetheart, Louis Silver, an attorney who worked his way through law school playing clarinet and saxophone.
–Susan M. Silver
GERTRUDE “TRUDY” SILVER
Across a naked night, in waves of peace
And pain, your music returns, granite rhythm,
Haunting harmony and melody,
Peerless phrases unreplicatable,
Hugging the whole of myself, as in life.
You go on, infinite, in darkest space,
Your ivory-taming fingers never lost.
You elude me, clever one, but you remain.
@ 2009, 2010 Susan M. Silver
EROSION OF UNITY
Over the last few months I have met and spoken with many working musicians. A variety of themes have come up in those discussions: jobs, wages, health care, pension. But the one topic that threatens progress in all of those areas is the erosion of unity within our union.
I use the word “erosion” because the split in our union is like a living organism, eating away at our foundation. Rightly so, many people have expressed disgust witnessing some members’ fortification of the split rather than behaving with a sincere desire to eliminate it.
So I began to imagine what unity would look like. First, we would observe a willingness to act with the belief that we all desire the same goals. It would include a reaction to ask questions before finding fault.
For example, the Executive Board had decided to set the date and time for the October membership meeting differently than it had in the past. Immediately, cries went out: “Why?” “Don’t be fooled!” Then, unscientific conclusions were repeated as fact, effectively maligning the administration’s motivations. Had these people simply asked, they would have learned that a larger space was needed after seeing how overcrowded the June meeting was. And that the meeting time was pushed up simply to allow for a longer meeting.
Now, isn’t that a more reasonable approach?
At this moment, the two parties are a reality. Nevertheless, I believe we do want the same things.
So today, to begin a sincere movement towards unity, we must act with a belief in our oneness of mind, that we are a totality combining all of our parts into one. That’s what will serve us in the years ahead.
If you are reading this letter in Allegro then you know that President Landolfi and her Concerned Musicians Party must have decided to restore our freedom of speech.
Why is it that letters to the editor from members of Local 802 had been perfectly acceptable until this November? Suddenly, because it is election season it was decided that we would not be allowed to express our opinions in our newspaper. Why was everything seemingly O.K. in October and for years prior, but not this November?
I will save some time and ink and tell you what some coward disguised as “The Administration Replies” will write: “Landolfi checked with outside counsel before cutting your tongues out.” (Incidentally, we paid for that legal advice as well.)
My outside counsel (who I paid for) said that this administration has interfered with our right to free speech. What are they afraid of? A disagreement? Our opinions? Our interest in the truth?
Check it out folks: we elect people to represent us and pay them with OUR money. They hire attorneys with OUR money to validate their need to silence OUR voices. Then they prevent OUR voices from being heard in OUR newspaper that we finance with OUR money.
IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE
Letters praising the current administration are prominently featured in the October Allegro. One writer applauds the media agreement that was added to the Broadway contract this year at the producers’ request.
The writer says, “… it’s likely we’re going to make more money.”
Who are the “we” the writer refers to? Musicians at “Lion King?” “Legally Blonde?” “9 to 5?” “Phantom?” Each of these shows worked under entirely different circumstances regarding their cast albums, their promotion, and the length of their run. Are “we” the musicians who recorded a cast album and will not receive AFM new use or reuse payments for promotional use of its tracks or the musicians who didn’t record the album yet now receive the media payment?
Clearly there are many possible parameters here making it difficult, if not impossible, to predict who, if anyone, will be making “more” money.
Since the standard media fee is paid to a “chair” rather than to a musician, we have not only given away potentially substantial recording fees, but we have tied our “media payment” to our attendance. To many, this is a major concession and, since it is unconnected to standard AFM agreements, it will affect future income in some cases.
Among other misleading statements, the writer claims that this business model “can pay you for years to come if your show opens other productions.” Future productions may well have zero effect on your media payment. In fact, your recording could be used to promote any number of new productions, but you will receive the media payment only when you perform a show on Broadway.
Reducing controversial subjects to simple black-and-white statements may promote the administration’s agenda, but does not inform or serve the membership of 802.
What’s happened to “The Musicians Voice?” In recent months, Local 802’s administration has appropriated Allegro’s “letters” column for lengthy political editorials.
I’m not referring to the “propaganda” letters containing no content other than effusive praise for the “Concerned Musicians” administration, sometimes written by members who have not been musicians or even lived in this country for years.
I’m carefully reading the growing number of letters that question or disagree with administration policies. All these letters get responses. But the responses come from an anonymous writer known only as “The Administration Replies (TAR).” TAR attacks letter-writers or changes the subject, but rarely addresses their concerns.
Example: In October, member David Finck asked about recent contract concessions and the viability of 802’s health plan. In its endless response, TAR absurdly accused Finck of favoring no health plan at all, but never answered his question!
Another letter incorrectly states that Finck belongs to the MEMBERS Party. The truth: Finck has stated publicly numerous times that he is an independent, affiliated with no party. No correction from TAR.
There are more flawed TARs in the October Allegro alone, but unlike the anonymous TAR, I am limited to 300 words!
Is any publication’s “letters” column the place for inaccurate rebuttals that are longer than the letters themselves?
And as a member of the administration (I’m currently serving on 802’s Executive Board), I do not endorse anonymous attacks on musicians. Whoever is writing the responses: sign your own names!
Today’s politicians, Local 802’s included, routinely shut people up with threats, lies and diversions. Are we getting honest answers to our questions? TAR’s responses indicate the answer is no, but they do tell us what the administration thinks of us. Maybe it’s time we started listening.
MORE ABOUT LENNY
I am responding to Bill Moriarity’s comments about my criticism of Lenny Leibowitz. While I respect and appreciate Mr. Moriarity’s views in regard to Lenny Leibowitz, my criticism is based on my past dealings with Mr. Leibowitz both as an orchestra committee member of the New Jersey Symphony, and what I observed during the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra negotiations in 2000. I recollect that during the meetings the Radio City Orchestra had with Mr. Leibowitz and Mr. Moriarity in 2000, Mr. Moriarity had to rein in Mr. Leibowitz on numerous occasions because of Mr. Leibowitz’ “shotgun and take no prisoners approach” when recommending what he thought the orchestra should do in regard to the negotiations. Unfortunately, Mr. Moriarity’s successor, David Lennon, could not rein in Mr. Leibowitz, which produced the current disaster of a contract which is now in place. As far as the current state of affairs is concerned, it disturbs and saddens me to see how certain Local 802 individuals are trying to force their opinion on the membership using bullying and twisting the truth to achieve their goals. This is reminiscent of the Bush regime. What these individuals fail to mention is that David Lennon almost single-handedly brought down Local 802, and it was the Landolfi regime that brought the Union back from the brink, and made it into a viable entity. Hopefully, Local 802 members will see through these tactics and vote accordingly during the upcoming election in order to continue Local 802’s growth.