‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 114, No. 5May, 2014

Top row: Cynthia Holiday, James A. Reilly, Joseph Wallace. Bottom row: Elyssa Samsel, Matthew Filler

Top row: Cynthia Holiday, James A. Reilly, Joseph Wallace. Bottom row: Elyssa Samsel, Matthew Filler

I joined Local 802 because my dad was a bandleader and a lifelong member of the musicians’ union until he passed. I know he would encourage me to join the union. I intend to educate myself and take advantage of the benefits offered to members. I also look forward to keeping abreast of what’s happening in the music industry as well as networking with other musicians and singers. I want to take advantage of the good fortune of living in the best city for jazz music and live music performances. I get to be in the mix as a performer, while learning from and enjoying the world’s best musicians, singers and vocal coaches. I am working on my blues repertoire because I love to sing the blues. Last year, I had the pleasure of doing a seven-day tour in Moscow. The bandleader had seen my video on YouTube and e-mailed me, and the rest is history. I performed with Russian musicians and everything worked out fine. Perhaps, one day I will have the opportunity to travel with my trio. I call myself a “Jazz Song Stylist.” My repertory consists of jazz, blues and adult contemporary music (but always sung in the style of jazz).

Cynthia Holiday

I joined Local 802 because I’m hoping to find some good union work. Of course, it’s on me to actually find the work, but hopefully the union can make it a bit easier for me. I hope to make a living as a performer, although I do enjoy education work. I plan on earning a master’s in music education, so ideally I’ll be balancing teaching and performance careers. Last year, I played in the pit orchestra for a production of “Les Misérables” at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island with In The Wings Productions. My primary instrument is trumpet but I do have experience in bass guitar and piano, and I feel comfortable playing on all three instruments.

James A. Reilly

I joined Local 802 because I was hired to play bass for the show “Nobody Loves You” at Second Stage Theater. I’m a double bassist/electric bassist and music educator. Before arriving in New York in 2010, I was the orchestra teacher for the fifth and sixth grade music program in Franklin Township, New Jersey. Being a musician in New York has been an amazing experience. I am inspired on a daily basis by the amount of talent I witness and also by performing with my colleagues and other musicians around the city.

Joseph Wallace

I’m a violinist and pianist who is currently involved with several new workshopping musicals. I’m passionate about music directing as well as collaborating with other pit musicians. I am also a composer and a member of the Advanced BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. My original musical “CAMP WISH-NO-MORE” (co-written with librettist/lyricist Kate Anderson) was presented as a staged reading in conjunction with NYU Steinhardt last year. Recently, I also played violin in the pit for the new musical “A History of Summer,” which originally debuted at Summerworks Theater Festival in Toronto. Whether I am playing fiddle or classical, I strive to enhance any work, whether freshly printed from Finale or plucked from a library shelf of classics.

Elyssa Samsel

I joined Local 802 because my career as a songwriter started to gain real momentum and I needed access to the resources that Local 802 provides. My musical goal in NYC is always to have copious amounts of challenging creative work and new musical experiences, to be in a perpetual state of learning, and to give people music that is full of fresh flare and modernity. Pralaya Productions is my home for all things composing and producing. We’ve been very fortunate to have all sorts of amazing opportunities writing and producing original music for TV, advertising and media. We’re humbly and confidently pushing our way towards writing for artists and scoring for films. I also sing, play guitar and write for an indie rock/post-wave group called Mansions and Junipers. We perform often and we have plenty of releases. We’re currently revving things up for a new LP. In fact, much of the synch/licensing work I’ve obtained in recent years is a result of some of the wonderful friends I’ve made through always pushing the band and getting our music out there. So it’s all quite connected.

Matthew Filler