‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 115, No. 3March, 2015

Top row: Robbie Cowan, Felipe Tristan and Maureen Murchie. Bottom row: Jerry Weimer and Brian Newman

Top row: Robbie Cowan, Felipe Tristan and Maureen Murchie. Bottom row: Jerry Weimer and Brian Newman

I joined Local 802 when I served as associate conductor in the national tour of “Elf.” I’ve played on several national tours lately, playing keys, conducting, music directing, or all of the above. I recently earned my master’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music so I’m still new to New York City, but the AFM is already opening doors to me. It’s like night and day between AFM union contracts vs. nonunion jobs. Union jobs pay great for one thing, and just knowing that there’s someone to call if things seem questionable or unprofessional makes everything so much easier and stress free. I loved touring with “Elf” and look forward to playing the Kennedy Center. I’m glad to have Local 802 on my side. Thanks!

–Robbie Cowan

I joined Local 802 because I believe it is crucial for any professional and active musician to be affiliated to the local union of musicians. Personally, I am looking to connect and network with the many fascinating artists in New York. One of my musical goals in New York is to establish myself as a flutist and conductor. Also, I have a passion for arts administration and all the aspects “behind the scene.” One of my favorite recent jobs was when I was hired for a reading with a pickup orchestra with some of the finest musicians in the city, including some from the MET Orchestra. Although the occasion was rather informal, the group sounded fantastic from the very beginning. I was hired through a friend that referred me and sent my information to the contractor.

–Felipe Tristan

I joined Local 802 because I am a vocalist looking for work here in New York. My specialty is jazz standards so I was looking to find an accompanist. My goal is to start performing again in cabarets like the Duplex and other intimate supper clubs. I am also a songwriter and would love to perform my compositions live. I recently put together a CD, which I started recording in Los Angeles. My voice is my principal instrument but I also play the piano.

–Darnelle Whitfield

I joined Local 802 when I moved to New York after completing my doctorate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Joining the union seemed like a sensible first step in my connection-building endeavors. (Also, my dad had been bugging me forever: “Go down to the Union and let them know that you can stroll!”) My musical goal in NYC is to play good music with good musicians! I grew up in Japan and work as a freelance Japanese interpreter/translator as well; my ideal situation is one that combines my two “hats” in a way that stimulates, challenges and pays the bills. One of my favorite recent gigs was at Manhattan’s beautiful Corpus Christi Church with the baroque ensemble El Mundo as part of the series Music Before 1800. My degrees are in violin, but I also play a lot of viola and Baroque violin/viola. I also just started learning the viola d’amore for an upcoming St. John Passion gig!

–Maureen Murchie

I joined Local 802 to gain access to the vast community of musicians in this city. My musical goal in New York is to play every night for people who are excited to listen. I recently had the opportunity to perform at Pomegranate Gallery for an event hosted by Poetry Teachers NYC. I love how so many creative people come together in this city to support one another and break new artistic ground. My main instrument is clarinet and my primary musical focus is jazz.

–Jerry Weimer

I joined Local 802 because I was doing a ton of work for a record called “Cheek to Cheek” with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. My band and I performed, arranged and recorded six tracks that made the record and also worked on a PBS special. Honestly, I’m not sure why I didn’t join Local 802 sooner. I have seen the many benefits of joining and it has really been a great experience working with my Local 802 and the West Coast office as well. Since I was 12 years old my only goal in life was always to be a working jazz musician in New York City. Ever since then I have been trying to make it happen. I moved to the city in 2003 from Ohio where I grew up in Cleveland and attended the Cincinnati Conservatory. I did lots of waiting tables, driving cars, bartending, hanging at late night sessions, booking my own gigs and playing as a sideman to try to get myself where I wanted to be musically and professionally. It took a good five years to be able to perform without having to work another job and focus on music full-time. It wasn’t until I really threw myself whole-heartedly into it that I really started to see results. I am constantly growing as a musician and will never stop learning and having more goals to set for myself. I love New York. My principal instruments are trumpet and vocals.

–Brian Newman