‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 116, No. 4April, 2016

Barbara Ann Schmutzler

Barbara Ann SchmutzlerAs a bassoonist and contrabassoonist with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, I have been covered collectively by the Israeli union (Histadrut) for more than 20 years. After arriving in NYC and becoming a freelancer for the first time in my career, it was a natural step for me to become a union member on my own initiative and join the fight for fair working conditions. In light of the fact that I’m entering “sideways” rather than having grown into the local music scene, it seems of the essence to have this kind of support. I feel fortunate to have taken my first plunge into the city’s professional music scene in the form of a concert with the Orchestra of the League of Composers, which turned out to be a group of amazingly collegial, well-organized musicians. I couldn’t have had a more positive first experience. A more recent highlight was a delightful gig with the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps band and the breathtaking Carol Jantsch, virtuoso tuba player of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I was thrilled to find Local 802 members playing at the People’s Climate March, dedicating their time and energy to a cause that goes beyond the narrower issues that inevitably come up in musicians’ careers. It is energizing to know that these are the kind of colleagues I have in this city. My great love is the contrabassoon, and I’d be thrilled about more opportunities to play in chamber settings.