‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 115, No. 10October, 2015

Top row, from left: Brett Rowe, Charlie Reuter, Isaac Alderson. Bottom row: Alan Schissel, Elisa Winter

Top row, from left: Brett Rowe, Charlie Reuter, Isaac Alderson. Bottom row: Alan Schissel, Elisa Winter

I joined Local 802 when I started performing in NYC. I am the associate conductor of “On The Town” on Broadway, which ranks as my favorite gig of all time. Playing and conducting for that incredible production is an unbelievable treat and I’m very grateful to call that my work. Another favorite gig was the national tour of “Mary Poppins.” The venue in Mexico City was so large that they hung two Jumbotrons on either side of the stage. Conducting the orchestra with 7,500 people enjoying that great show was an extremely exciting and rewarding opportunity. I was previously a member of AFM Local 10-208 (Chicago), where I played musicals, jazz and classical music with many bands and artists, including the Civic Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. My principal instrument is piano, with experience on all keyboard instruments including harpsichord and organ.

Brett Rowe

I joined Local 802 because the best musical experiences of my life have been playing alongside other members of the AFM. Playing piano for Jennifer Holliday at The MUNY in St. Louis, developing charts for new music theatre at La Jolla Playhouse and conducting shows at The Old Globe have offered the opportunity to work directly with established professionals, while elevating my own artistry. Nothing excites me more than collaborative arts; live theatre is a special place for the performers as well as the audience. After completing an MFA degree in California and conducting the national tour of “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” it made sense to come back home to New York City, surrounded by the best talent — and people – in the world.

Charlie Reuter

I joined Local 802 after getting several calls for orchestra work, namely as winds sub on “The Last Ship” and recording the tin whistle part in Jennifer Hudson’s performance of “Never Neverland” at the 2014 Tony Awards, which was definitely a favorite gig. Though I am based in NYC, I have toured extensively across the U.S. and abroad, mainly in small ensembles though also as a full-time member of the show “Celtic Crossroads.” My primary instruments are uilleann pipes, Irish flute and tin whistle, and I enjoy bringing those instruments, as well as my love of traditional Irish music, to the ears of the public in NYC and everywhere!

Isaac Alderson

I joined Local 802 because I believe that supporting the union helps every working musician find employment, sustain more competitive wages and benefits and generally improve working conditions. With large corporations seizing more control over the arts, there is a greater need for one voice to unify and strengthen the message. Studying the drums at age 45, with many family and business obligations, was quite a mountain to climb. Many sacrifices and hours of disciplined commitment and hard work were required (and still are required), but the payoff has been greater than I ever imagined. Not only has it brought balance into my life, but collaborating with artists and filling unoccupied space with beautiful original music remains the single greatest accomplishment in my adult life. I would like to continue challenging myself as a drummer/percussionist and get more recorded music in my portfolio of accomplishments. My band is BIN251.

Alan Schissel

When I first joined Local 802 in 2005, it was for a specific show. When I rejoined eight years later, it was because music had become an increasingly important part of my life and livelihood. I was impressed by the obvious support and passion emanating from Local 802. It came as a complete surprise when, just two months after rejoining the union, I was asked out of the blue to play music for the “The Great Immensity,” a new play at the Public Theatre. In addition to being a wonderfully important show with fantastic music by Michael Friedman, I was asked to play cello, accordion and ukulele, which was a complete delight! As a performer, I love to explore as much musical variety as possible and particularly enjoy arranging music whenever there’s a good opportunity. I play in small groups all the time, and relish the opportunity to play for theatre or any other fun event. My strength really lies in being a multi-instrumentalist. I mostly play cello, accordion and piano, and am a versatile singer. I’ve also been known to play ukulele, guitar, flute, upright bass, mandolin and melodica (naturally!). Finally, as a teacher, I am thrilled to run the music department at Play On! Studios

Elisa Winter