Why we joined the union

Volume 114, No. 6June, 2014

Top row: Michael Sansonia, Bryan Chauncey Mays, Gijiberta Lucaj. Bottom row: Jordon Cunningham, Jonathan Gregg, Laura Weiner

Top row: Michael Sansonia, Bryan Chauncey Mays, Gijiberta Lucaj. Bottom row: Jordon Cunningham, Jonathan Gregg, Laura Weiner

I was a Local 802 member for over 35 years. Work for me dried up and I allowed my membership to lapse. But recently I was at a political rally and realized that one of the few remaining positive political forces in this country is unions. Union membership is way down but I decided I could at least see to it that one union has one more member. It would be useful if I could use my skills to help people consider ideas to which they would normally close themselves. Last year, I played trombone in a 10-piece band, hired by the nurses’ union, to protest the closing of a teaching hospital. My old pal Larry Siegel called me for it. We played and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge. Piano is my principal instrument. But like many of the people reading this, I don’t consider being a musician to consist only of playing instruments. Many of us do much more, especially these days.

Michael Sansonia

I joined Local 802 in order to be able to conduct business within New York and other cities as a professional instrumentalist and musician. I am an arranger, composer, orchestration specialist and a published author. I recently played a tour with the Irish Tenors and am currently writing for my band Idle Gossip as well as freelancing. I have written symphonies, original songs and a film score – as well as a film script. My books include “The Journey of Choncey Conch” and “The Adventures of Hugh Manatee.” I have played in many touring Broadway shows and would like to perform in a Broadway musical. I also plan to start my own contemporary big band with my arrangements and compositions. My principal instrument is trombone and I double on all brass.

Bryan Chauncey Mays

I joined Local 802 because I continuously found myself performing in union halls and gigs and I wanted to be part of the wonderful union community of Local 802. New York City has been a wonderful, welcoming hub for my solo and chamber music career. I’m absolutely impassioned with opera and theatre, and I’d love to get more involved with the Met opera orchestra as well as Broadway productions. I also love recording for singer/songwriters and film scores and have been hired as a creative cello composer, where I’ve added my own cello harmonies to existing melodies. I’m a member of Monticelli Trio (an all-cello female group) as well as Trio Fundacion Astor Piazzolla (a piano trio). Last summer the Monticelli Trio was the featured guest artist with the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey.

Gjilberta Lucaj

I joined Local 802 when I was offered to sub on the keyboard 2 part for “Nobody Loves You” at Second Stage Theatre. (I previously worked as the copyist intern for that production.) Last year, I served as assistant music director with Vadim Feichtner and Brett Macias on a reading of the musical “Gumbo.” I moved to New York City to work as a music director, pianist and conductor in the musical theatre industry. My principal instrument is piano.

Jordon Cunningham

I joined Local 802 when Skip Krevens asked me sub for him on pedal steel, dobro and guitar for the Broadway musical “Hands on a Hardbody.” Unfortunately the show closed before I could make my grand debut, but it was an interesting experience anyway. Another recent gig was with a band called Rusty Truck; we appeared on the Don Imus show and played a very well-attended record release party at Hill Country. I got the gig based on a referral from Mark Spencer, who plays with Son Volt. My musical goal is to be as active as possible gigging and recording, and also do some teaching. My principal instrument is pedal steel guitar, but I have played electric guitar my whole life and was lead guitarist in numerous bands – including my own – for many years. I also play dobro, and I gig regularly in a bluegrass band.

Jonathan Gregg

I joined 802 after moving to New York City; I was previously a member of AFM Local 166 in Madison, Wisconsin. I am primarily a classical French hornist but am interested in any kind of playing opportunities. I am the French hornist for Ensemble ACJW, a chamber group in residence at Carnegie Hall.

Laura Weiner