‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 118, No. 5May, 2018

Jonny Byers

I joined Local 802 after I started performing in “Farinelli and the King” on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre. This has certainly been a career highlight: baroque cello on Broadway! I’m a member of the British musicians’ union back in the U.K. and believe that we’re all stronger by being in a union. I’ve been enjoying exploring every inch of this crazy nonstop city’s musical delights in my free time. Another favorite recent gig was performing Handel’s “Rinaldo” with the English Concert baroque orchestra at Carnegie Hall. I grew up playing the cello in Belfast, then moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music. I was in the Badke String Quartet for almost 15 years, and toured all over the world. In addition to the English Concert ensemble, I also play with the Irish Baroque Orchestra as well as many other period instrument groups, and play “modern cello” for a number of chamber groups as well as sessions for film and TV. I also help organize a big music and arts festival in France as well as run a music camp at Burning Man. Music is what keeps me believing in life and everything good on this planet. We’ve created such joy and wonder over the years, and it just keeps on giving.