The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CX, No. 5May, 2010

Hawaii musicians say aloha and thank you!

Aloha! As we casually turned to page 22 of the March issue of Allegro, this headline jumped out at the top of the page: “Local 802 donates $1,000 to Honolulu musicians.” Wow! The ongoing Honolulu Symphony bankruptcy continues to demoralize symphony musicians and union officials alike, but to see our cause trumpeted in big letters in Allegro provided us a huge boost. Thank you so much.

News of the symphony bankruptcy and the subsequent “call to action” by ICSOM, the RMA, and other union organizations has generated a tremendous outpouring of support from all over the country – from other orchestras, other AFM locals like Local 802, other Hawaii unions, and the general public. The combined total we have received so far is over $180,000, most of which came from other orchestra musicians, including from all four New York City ICSOM orchestras.

In addition to helping defray the costs of protecting the interests of the musicians in the bankruptcy process, the funds that the Honolulu Symphony musicians have received are being used to present symphony musicians in chamber music concerts, educational activities, and public relations events, called “concert chats,” to inform the public about the value of the symphony to the community and how audiences and concerned citizens can help. The money is also being used directly and in partnership with MusiCares, a charitable nonprofit relief agency for musicians that is affiliated with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the GRAMMYs), to provide hardship grants to musicians who are in severe financial straits, assisting with basic needs like rent, car payments, and health care costs.

Thank you to all of the members of Local 802 for standing with us at this difficult time, with your dollars and with your solidarity.

Signed by officers and musicians of AFM Local 677 (Honolulu):

Brien Matson (president),
Marsha Schweitzer (sec.-treas.),
and the Honolulu Symphony Musicians Orchestra Committee

Remembering Jan Rosenberg

We in the Broadway community are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and colleague Jan Rosenberg. She will be sorely missed.

I first met Jan in 1984 when she and I were both on the road; she was associate conductor of the first national tour of “Cats,” and I was the music director of the first national tour of “Little Shop Of Horrors.” Our two companies were in Washington, D.C. at the same time, and the musicians of the two shows arranged a pit exchange (we had different show schedules). Our band sat in on the “Cats” pit, and members of the “Cats” rhythm section came to watch our show backstage. She and I and the other musicians on tour were young and full of excitement for these jobs, and her enthusiasm was infectious and joyous. It remained so throughout her career.

Jan later gave me one of my first Broadway subbing gigs at “Starlight Express,” and we continued our association on several projects, including her year and a half as my associate conductor at “The Who’s Tommy” on Broadway.

Jan worked on countless shows as a conductor and keyboardist, and in every situation, she was professional, reliable, and upbeat, and her good spirits and fine musicianship were always welcomed and appreciated.

One of Jan’s most notable achievements was her participation in the Music Directors Committee of Local 802, which she co-founded with, among others, myself, Sari Goetz, Joe Baker, Ted Sperling, Frank Lindquist, and Eric Stern. It was through the efforts of this committee that the Tony award for orchestration was restored. Her legacy lives on through all the orchestrators whose work is now being properly recognized and applauded.

Jan was, throughout her career, an inspiration. Her warmth, generosity, and talent will not be forgotten.

Joseph Church

[Editor’s note: Jan Rosenberg’s obituary appears in this issue]

Rich Raffio, we’ll miss you

I am a stagehand and I work on “Billy Elliot.” I saw the program for the funeral of Richard Raffio at the theatre. My friends and I were shocked. The crew and the musicians do not always talk about serious things. All of us had worked with him and are saddened by his early passing. The sound crew at “Billy” will miss him.

He was a real guy and a nice guy, who could really play trumpet too.

Signed by members of the “Billy Elliot” sound crew, members of IATSE Local 1:

John Cooper, Mike Wojchick,
Bob Biasetti, Stephanie Vetter,
Susan Ash and Chris Noke

A salute to military musicians

Every U.S. war or conflict since World War I has called our union members to support our service members. For example, one of the first African-American AFM members, Lt. James Reese Europe, led his band from the battlefield to the Parisian music scene.

Since then, many prominent musical figures supported the troops bravely by wearing their second hat, as a military musician.

Today, active duty and reserve members continue that dual status, playing music on military installations and downtown in the communities.

Military installations, as a result of being exposed to the military musician, know first hand the value and power of live music. They continually employ civilian union musicians for their morale, welfare and recreation programs, as both players and teachers.

Since the birth of our nation, as performers and teachers of music, the most talented musicians have been called into the military in that same capacity. One need only think of the old man fifer and the young drummer, depicted during the American Revolution. Or visit the first military music school, established by George Washington at Governor’s Island, off the tip of Manhattan.

Stephen C. Josephs

New groove in New Orleans

The last issue of Allegro, with its celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month, makes me think of New Orleans. I’m still here, after almost five years of post-Katrina life.

The artistic landscape here is so different from the pre-Katrina years that it is, at times, unrecognizable to those of us who lived and grew up in here. Many of the old-timers have passed on to the next world, and many other more fragile souls perished by their own hands, unable to bear the uncertainty and hovering desperation.

On a more positive note, there is much new energy in the city, arriving regularly with the most recent additions to the various creative scenes around town.

With all this new input comes a very different music, art and dance output.

There will always be the traditional jazz scene, with the newest generation of very capable and talented players. Many of them are the sons and daughters of the baby boomers who created the last wave of our miraculous, unique New Orleans sound.

There has been an influx of fantastic West African percussionists over the last two or three years as well as new female musicians like Helen Gillet.

Irvin Mayfield’s club is doing well; Frenchmen Street is alive and jamming, as are the clubs on Bourbon Street.

As long as tourists are not afraid to come here, these venues will continue to thrive and flourish as they have in the past.

We also have a new mayor, who actually seems to give a damn, so I am hopeful on that front as well.

And there have been Cassandra Wilson sightings; word on the street is that she lives here now, and it would be a boon to the community if this is true: she’s one of my all-time favorite blues singers.

Nanette LeDet

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.