‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 114, No. 9September, 2014

Top row, from left: Dean Piaquadio, Lisa Suslowicz and Bryan Graber. Bottom row: Deanna Witkowski, Khystopher Williams, Francesca Dardani and Ray Blue.

Top row, from left: Dean Piaquadio, Lisa Suslowicz and Bryan Graber. Bottom row: Deanna Witkowski, Khystopher Williams, Francesca Dardani and Ray Blue.

I joined Local 802 after I missed a music opportunity because I wasn’t a union member at the time. My musical goal in New York City is to eventually replace my day job with playing music. (Sounds cliché, doesn’t it?) I helped put together the group Hudson Valley Guitar, which is three bands in one setting. We recently played the Danbury Green in Connecticut. My principal instrument is guitar.

Dean Piaquadio

I joined Local 802 after I moved back to NYC from Boston for more opportunities to play and perform with my friends. My musical goal in New York City is simply to make a living, enjoy the city and live a full life of work and relationships of all kinds. Last year I played the 30th anniversary of the Grand Canyon Music Festival at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It was awesome! My principal instrument is viola.

Lisa Suslowicz

I joined Local 802 after I recently moved to the great city of NYC. My focus and one of my favorite things to do is to play drums and percussion in musical theater. My goal is to get more involved in the NYC musical theater scene and hopefully someday build a career in the Broadway pits. Last year, I played regional/community theater shows, including “Willy Wonka,” “Les Miserables” and “Hair.” I got these jobs from musical directors who are already familiar with my work and recommendations from other musicians and directors.

Bryan Graber

I rejoined Local 802 to continue playing in Bryant Park’s annual “Piano in the Park” series, which I’ve played annually since 2005. Since I live in Midtown, I’m looking for more opportunities to do subbing work on Broadway. My current musical goals include finding a good home for my fifth recording – a solo project that melds Chopin pieces with elements of jazz and Brazilian music. I also want to tour more as a bandleader and to play more as a sidewoman. Last year I was appointed artist-in-residence/assistant musician at Park Avenue Christian Church, where I play and compose in many different styles of music. I’ve also been the pianist in the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra since 2006. My principal instrument is piano.

Deanna Witkowski

I’m 18 years old and I just started my undergraduate studies in jazz composition at Manhattan School of Music. My principal instrument is the trumpet and I’ve been playing for about nine years now. I hail from Nederland, Texas. I’m involved with the New York Youth Symphony Jazz Band as well. I joined Local 802 because I want to have all the benefits of being a musician in New York. I might not be involved too much because I’m young, but I expect to be busy in the future and I want to get my stuff straight. I wish to get involved in the Broadway business; I’ve played in some pit orchestras for local theatre companies that did musical productions and I enjoyed it a lot. I also want to get involved in composing as well.

Khrystopher Williams

I joined Local 802 after I played on the Jimmy Fallon Show last fall with the Roots and with Elvis Costello. I want to freelance as much as possible in any genre: classical, pop, musical theatre, and anything else. My principal instrument is violin.

Francesca Dardani

I rejoined Local 802 because I know that being an active union member is a part of having a successful career as a professional musician. Having access to the variety of benefits that exist – legal help, contract negotiation, health and pension – is essential. Also, the information and resources for work opportunities, performance and teaching are important to me. My musical goal in New York City is to continue to improve and grow as a musician, and to obtain, create and sustain consistent work as a sideman, leader and clinician. I am currently freelancing as a sideman and booking my trio and quartet into clubs and other venues around the city. My principal instrument is saxophone (including tenor, baritone and soprano).

Ray Blue