The Musicians’ Voice

Volume 111, No. 12December, 2011

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 longer than 300 words.

‘We are the 99 percent!’

We are the 99 percent! Occupy Wall Street has given us – and the rest of America – a platform from which to speak. And Local 802 musicians and friends have formed a Musicians Solidarity Council with its own Web site:

We hope our site will provide musicians with the necessary information to support Occupy Wall Street in any way possible. As musicians, we can provide moral support, energy and beauty to the movement.

On Nov. 15, the Local 802 Executive Board unanimously voted to join the Occupy Wall Street Labor Outreach Committee, which is open to all labor officers and rank-and-file members. It is a standing committee within the structure of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Let’s see what we can come up with to help Occupy Wall Street continue this incredible effort on behalf of all of us in the 99 percent!

Be sure to go to and find out what your colleagues are doing and what you can do to lend your voice, talent and energies to this remarkable movement.

Union and nonunion musicians, friends and families can all contribute to the bulletin board on our site. Join the conversation!

–Michele Smith and Frank Hosticka

When music and politics mix

If I ever display the stupidity of expressing my political views in the context of a professional musical environment, I hope someone stuffs a sock in my mouth!

I have studied music my entire life to be entertaining and to make myself and others experience the enrichment of life that music provides.

I find it a total turn-off when someone thinks that because they can sing, act or play an instrument, their political views have more validity than those of a non-entertainer. (This applies regardless of their views, left or right.)

It is obvious to me that those people who proclaim themselves as inclusive regarding social and political issues are anything but inclusive when views are expressed that are not in line with their own.

A form of modern-day McCarthyism applies in the entertainment industry when views are expressed by entertainers that are not in line with the views held by the majority within the industry.

–Terry Brady

Thanks, Tony Bennett!

Jazz singer Tony Bennett (a World War II veteran and pacifist) recently spoke about 9/11 and American militarism on the Sept. 19 edition of the Howard Stern show. He said, “…Who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right. They flew the plane in, but we caused it…Because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.”

After his comments lit up the Internet, the next day he apologized for upsetting listeners, but didn’t retract his words.

Filmmaker-activist Michael Moore defended Bennett. Speaking on Bill Maher’s show a few days later, Moore said, “I think it’s a brave thing to say. If you have a pit bull in your neighbor’s back yard, and you go over there and keep kicking that pit bull, and then the pit bull bites you, you don’t say, ‘Hey, I don’t know why that pit bull bit me!’ It’s because you’ve been kicking the dog!”

I say that Martin Luther King Jr. would have agreed with Tony Bennett. Rev. King preached about the history of the lies used to trick Americans into supporting the Vietnam war. Today, Rev. King would be exposing the lies that have concealed secret arrangements for CIA covert crimes against humanity in the Middle East and elsewhere. See

(Side note: during the Vietnam war, I was a member of the Mostly Mozart Festival back here in the U.S. Every evening we played, I was aware it was morning on the other side of the world in Vietnam, where our planes were bombing and killing Vietnamese rice farmers by the thousands and putting the equivalent of a 9/11 on Vietnam every month.)

Tony Bennett made me feel good about being his fellow American musician.

Grazie, Tony!

–Hank Nowak

Kudos for Juilliard story

The interviews with Juilliard graduates in the October issue were an effective description of the wide variety of paths for young musicians developing their careers in music.

The article showed the importance of recognizing the expansive landscape of different gigs out there and the importance of being open to following whatever different paths these gigs present.

Many of these musicians already recognize the value of the benefits and strengths that come from union participation and protection.

Since our arts education school programs have suffered a decline affecting a whole generation, for me the most striking quote was from clarinetist James Shields, who said: “I think one thing that would be important to impress upon young musicians is that they need to be an advocate for their contributions to society.”

–Steve Shulman