Archive for November, 2016

COLORADO SYMPHONY / DOJ APPEAL / NACUSA COMPETITION / EVENTS

Friday, November 25th, 2016

11/25/16

I. COLORADO SYMPHONY LOOKS UP – AND SEES MORE CHALLENGES
II. BMI RESPONDS TO DOJ APPEAL OF FRACTIONAL LICENSING RULING
III. NACUSA COMPOSITION SUBMISSIONS FROM EAST COAST MEMBERS
IV. EVENTS

 

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician

=============================================

I. COLORADO SYMPHONY LOOKS UP – AND SEES MORE CHALLENGES

Here is quite an interesting and wide ranging article about
the Colorado Symphony. We’re putting the section about
the Colorado Symphony vs. the AFM because of it’s import
the AFM Membership…

Excerpted from the article concerning the AFM:

The symphony plans to expand not only its concert
season, but its work in recording soundtracks and
background music, its work as a backup orchestra
for pop and rock musicians, and more.

The bad news? Well, the Symphony is mired in a
long-standing and complex dispute with the American
Federation of Musicians about these non-concert-hall gigs.

What do you want first – the good news? Okay. The
Colorado Symphony finally posted a budget surplus
for the first time in its history. It’s back from the brink
of death, with a growing multi-million-dollar endowment
and a raft of new and returning corporate sponsors. It’s got
a peppy new music director designate. The symphony plans
to expand not only its concert season, but its work in
recording soundtracks and background music, its work as
a backup orchestra for pop and rock musicians, and more.

The bad news? Well, the Symphony is mired in a long-standing and
complex dispute with the American Federation of Musicians about
these non-concert-hall gigs, for one. And the City of Denver’s going
to tear down the symphony’s home, Boettcher Concert Hall, and
shunt it into a new venue which is half the size and which the
symphony must share with other arts groups. Given these challenges,
can the symphony sustain its successful momentum?

The orchestra is awaiting the decision of an administrative
-law judge in the wake of a September 14 hearing concerning
points of contention between it and the American Federation
of Musicians union. Oddly, Colorado Symphony musicians
are on management’s side in the case. Much of the dispute
stems from the symphony’s desire to diversify its revenue
streams.
In its Consolidated Financial Statements of June 20, 2016,
the symphony characterized the dispute as follows:

“Our collective bargaining agreement with the American
Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada
(AFM) expired September 30, 2013, after which we attempted
to negotiate in good faith a successor agreement with
changes to certain terms governing the musicians’
compensation for work on SOUNDTRACKS, AUDIO/
VIDEO BROADCASTS AND OTHER ELECTRONIC MEDIA
(emphasis added), which were necessary to allow the
Symphony to take advantage of new and emerging
performance opportunities. We  were unable to reach
agreement with the AFM, and, therefore, we implemented
the changes in October 2014.”

“The American Federation of Musicians tends to foster
that ‘us versus them’ mentality,” says Kern. “It thinks
that it knows better what’s good for the organization
and the musicians. Management is viewed negatively –
but that’s not what goes on here. We have more of a
partnership with the musicians than any orchestra
in the United States.”

Meanwhile, Michael Allen, president of AFM Local 20-623,
writes that “Everything I know about this dispute fills
up four 1.5-inch three-ring binders.” The allegations
involved include unfair labor practice charges, employer
domination and refusal to furnish information. Colorado
Symphony musicians are also looking to EXIT AFM
REPRESENTATION (Emphasis added.), but this idea can’t
be pursued legally until the prior litigation is ended.”

[COLLEAGUES: Reading the above makes it clear that the
Colorado Symphony wants to begin recording for
Soundtracks and Video, but the AFM is trying to block
that (You can guess whom they are working on behalf of
here). So much so that the orchestra is trying to find
a way to free itself from the AFM, much as Seattle did.]

“ . . .The matter currently before the administrative law
judge is regarding the unfair labor practice charge and
NOT the issue of representation,” Allen writes, “though
the outcome of the hearings will certainly have on
impact on the issue of representation.”

THE ARTICLE IN FULL:

Denver’s symphony orchestra has always ridden a sine wave of ups
and downs. It originated as the Civic Symphony Orchestra, a
volunteer community ensemble. In 1934, the group professionalized
itself under the name of the Denver Symphony Orchestra. As such,
it persisted until March 1989, brought low by financial woes.
DSO musicians Terry Smith and John Weatherill led the initiative
to regroup, and the Colorado Symphony sprang to life in the
DSO’s place in May 1990.

However, the Colorado Symphony eventually faced financial
hardships. A spate of financial problems threatened the
organization in 2000. Eleven years later, a renewed shortfall
of revenue triggered the cancellation of concerts and the
resignation of two-thirds of the symphony’s board of trustees.
The emergence of Jerry and Mary Rossick Kern, current
co-chairs of the board, over the past fifteen years as
problem-solvers led to the symphony’s newfound
financial stability.

“It’s great to have cash in the bank,” says Jerry Kern, who
serves as the symphony’s CEO as well. “The place was never
adequately capitalized and adequately supported by the
community. We have come a long way toward resolving that.”

On June 30, 2015, the symphony ended the season with
$7,000 in cash – just enough to buy a 2006 Honda Civic,
in theory. On June 30, 2016, the surplus stands at more
than $1.7 million. Any organization, particularly an arts
organization, that can demonstrate a higher net worth
enjoys a more solid financial position and inspires greater
interest from potential contributors.

“Erasing the deficit expands the prospective donor base,”
Kern says. “It’s like the stock market. It takes money to
make money.”

Kern’s speech has the crackle and tang of old-school
New York, where he plied a successful career as a lawyer
(he’s now in his late seventies). Extensive work with
nonprofits and performing-arts organizations gives
him a unique amount of experience and insight as
to what works and what doesn’t in what is, after all,
a branch of showbiz.

“We make music and that’s it,” he says. “We feel that
it’s our obligation to create the best of whatever music
is out there. We happen to make the best music in
the state of Colorado.”

Much of the symphony’s success can be attributed to
its adaptability. Kern was quoted in the Denver Post
on October 12, 2011, as saying, “’The 21st-century
orchestra is not going to be the same as the 19th-
or 20th-century orchestra.’” Like many other symphony
orchestras across North America, the Colorado Symphony
has diversified its offerings to include a much greater
portion of contemporary fare.

A flip through the symphony’s 2016-2017 season calendar
tallies a near-even split between what would traditionally
be considered “serious” concert-hall fare and crossover events –
collaborations with contemporary groups and artists such
as Elephant Revival, Stewart Copeland and Ben Folds, pop
and jazz excursions and holiday shows. There is a Symphonic
Tribute to Comic Con, The Music of Michael Jackson, and
Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions. The symphony’s upcoming
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: In Concert sold out
its first two performances, then added a third and promptly
sold that out.

So what’s wrong with being popular? All of Denver’s
symphonic leaders of distinction to date have been dedicated
to popularizing the organization. Saul Caston, DSO music
director from 1945-1964, took the orchestra on tour,
initiated school outreach plans, and performed outdoors
at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Brian Priestman, a beloved
and ebullient Brit, led the orchestra from 1970 to 1979,
garnering the greatest amount of community support to
date. (Classical station KVOD and dry-goods giant May
D & F used to raise money through a weekend-long
annual marathon. The orchestra even used to have a
kissing booth at the People’s Fair.) Marin Alsop, a disciple
of Leonard Bernstein, scheduled new work, led engaging
outreach programs, recorded extensively with the
orchestra for the Naxos label, and effectively evangelized
for the local classical scene from 1993 to 2005.

Now the musical directorship will transfer to the present
associate conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, 37-year-old
Brett Mitchell, who takes up the position formally on July
1, 2017. Is Mitchell the kind of committed, charismatic
leader the symphony needs?

Kern is a staunch supporter, of course. “When you look at
a guy like Brett Mitchell, who’s committed to spending no
less than 25 weeks a year in Denver, to move here with his
wife, well, we haven’t had that since Marin Alsop,” he says.

“It’s not my first rodeo,” says Mitchell, who’s currently braving
Denver’s insane housing market. In a short span of years, the
conductor has accumulated a significant amount of experience,
ranging from opera to leading the Cleveland Orchestra’s
Youth Orchestra. He’s excited about the challenge ahead,
praises the musicians (“They’ve been doing their part in
this place for so long that it’s a labor of love”) and looks
forward to conducting the full range of concert offerings.

“Hey,” the Seattle native says, “I am not the guy who did
nothing but listen to Mozart growing up.” He confesses to
playing a little alto sax à la David Sanborn – “Hey, it was the
’80s!” – but he didn’t really feel the impulse to conduct
until his freshman year in college.

“At first I thought I would be a band teacher,” he says.
“Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Once he determined his career path,
he studied extensively with such prominent conductors
as Alsop, Kurt Masur and Lorin Maazel. However, he
doesn’t disdain the popular fare.

“I think that, having been a staff conductor, I’ve played just
about every kind of music there is for orchestra, and I love
it all,” Mitchell continues. “I want to do the pop shows and
the movies. My interest is to appear on every series, not
just the masterworks. Those works need to be performed
with the enthusiasm they deserve because they mean
something. I mean, John Williams [composer of Star Wars
et al.] was my intro to orchestra. That’s a gateway.
Developing a broad footprint, having enormous diversity
and variety — those are gateways.

“With an audience, you need to develop relatability,”
he goes on. “If you are doing the same thing over
and over again, people can shut you out. The way
that we have it is not as a museum, but as part of
a continuum. How do you make music that opens
ears in a new way that doesn’t make it intimidating?
We want to be responsive, not reactive. We’re not
dumbing down anything at all. The presentation is
managed differently, and there’s more salesmanship
to it. We’re just trying to have fun and share these
extraordinary experiences.”

So far, so good. All is not beer and Skittles for the
symphony, however.

The orchestra is awaiting the decision of an administrative
-law judge in the wake of a September 14 hearing concerning
points of contention between it and the American Federation
of Musicians union. Oddly, Colorado Symphony musicians
are on management’s side in the case. Much of the dispute
stems from the symphony’s desire to diversify its revenue
streams.
In its Consolidated Financial Statements of June 20, 2016,
the symphony characterized the dispute as follows:

“Our collective bargaining agreement with the American
Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada
(AFM) expired September 30, 2013, after which we attempted
to negotiate in good faith a successor agreement with
changes to certain terms governing the musicians’
compensation for work on soundtracks, audio/video
broadcasts and other electronic media, which were
necessary to allow the Symphony to take advantage of
new and emerging performance opportunities. We
were unable to reach agreement with the AFM, and,
therefore, we implemented the changes in October 2014.”

“The American Federation of Musicians tends to foster
that ‘us versus them’ mentality,” says Kern. “It thinks
that it knows better what’s good for the organization
and the musicians. Management is viewed negatively –
but that’s not what goes on here. We have more of a
partnership with the musicians than any orchestra
in the United States.”

Meanwhile, Michael Allen, president of AFM Local 20-623,
writes that “Everything I know about this dispute fills
up four 1.5-inch three-ring binders.” The allegations
involved include unfair labor practice charges, employer
domination and refusal to furnish information. Colorado
Symphony musicians are also looking to exit AFM
representation, but this idea can’t be pursued legally
until the prior litigation is ended.”

“ . . .The matter currently before the administrative law
judge is regarding the unfair labor practice charge and
NOT the issue of representation,” Allen writes, “though
the outcome of the hearings will certainly have on
impact on the issue of representation.”

Then there’s Boettcher. It was the first symphony hall
in the round in the United States when it was built in
1978, and since it opened, its innovative design was
constantly overshadowed by acoustical problems and
a lack of attendance. A $40 million project to upgrade
the facility, funded by a 2007 bond issue, was scrapped
by the city, and the funds were diverted to other projects.

Now the city plans to demolish Boettcher and relocate the
orchestra to a new music hall, “supporting the Symphony
and also a diverse range of other musical groups and
forms. This hall replaces Boettcher Concert Hall, offering
a better and more intimate experience, appropriate in
size and form for traditional and contemporary groups,”
according to the Executive Summary of the city’s Arts &
Venues Department’s Next Stage plan.

Next Stage is a massive revitalization plan that intends
to rework the cultural center in and around 14th and
Champa Streets into an integrated, mixed-use neighborhood,
leaving the Denver Center Theatre Complex, the Ellie Caulkins
Opera House and the Buell Theatre unchanged, but making
over practically everything else. Three newly designated
“opportunity sites” will sandwich arts venues between
ground-level retail spaces and commercial towers above.

“The new image of the Arts Complex is that of a community
living room,” announces the 88-page Next Stage prospectus.
“DPAC’s fortress-like enclosure should become a place that
is always open and always active with informal programming.”

The symphony and the city have been at loggerheads on
the issue since the plan was first rumored in 2014. The
city points to the low seat counts, “changing demographics
that have different cultural consumption patterns,” and
the “declining audiences for traditional performing arts,”
going so far as to cite the complex’s present “economic
and racial inaccessibility” – a long way of saying its
events are geared toward rich white folks.

Architect Hugh Hardy, who designed Boettcher and whose
company is on board with the Next Stage plan, was more
explicit. “The specific character of the Arts Complex
will come from its emphasis upon use by the largest
possible cross-section of the community, amateur
and professional alike, and not upon the use by a
favored few,” he writes. “The true innovation of the
Music Hall will similarly lie in the fact that it is being
built to encourage the citizens of Denver to share in
the making of music. Such an idea is quite different
from using the hall as a device for furthering the
remote presentations of a musical aristocracy.”

In response, Kern has termed Next Stage “poor civic
planning.” Boettcher has 2,362 seats. The new music
hall is slated to have 1,200. There sits the practical
crux of two differing visions. If the symphony’s
revival continues and ticket sales and subscriptions
rise — where will the patrons sit?

“We would like to see more seats, maybe 1,500.
It’s a little unclear, or a lot unclear, what shape
the Next Stage plan will finally take or how long
it will take,” says Kern. “Right now, it’s a
construct of the consultants.”

Bran Kitts, director of marketing and communications
for the city’s Arts & Venues Department, says: “We
are now in the post-conceptual, pre-practical stage.
Recommendations on financing and governance are
due to the mayor’s office by the end of the year.”

“One of the down sides of the performing complex,”
Kitts continues, “is that it’s busy on show nights,
but not particularly inviting on dark nights. We are
looking to make the area a focal point, to have good
community facilities there, so that people feel they
have a standing invitation to visit.”

As to the need to tear down Boettcher, Kitts identifies
problems such as its flawed acoustics, staging and
setup problems, and lack of attendance.

“If they’re not full to begin with now, you scale them
down,” Kitts says. “You take some of these complaints
into account, and you also look into the future. What
does the technology look like? That factors in. We
have to think about younger audiences, not just
older audiences, and not just the musicians, but
the patrons and fans.”

Kern says, “We need a home. We are happy to
cooperate with the city – as long as people
continue to listen to us and recognize our needs.”

The city states that “it is envisioned that the Boettcher
Concert Hall will remain operational until after the
construction of the Music Hall . . . at 14th and
Arapahoe.” Whether the city is simply trying to
monetize its underused property with its Next Stage
plan, or whether it will trigger a new flowering of
the symphony, a fresh intersection between the arts
and all of the city’s inhabitants, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the symphony will continue to
implement its own revitalization program, playing
in the aging confines of its once-state-of-the-art
home, waiting to see what its new digs will look like,
hoping that its labor disputes will end, freeing it
up to monetize new, non-standard musical opportunities.

And what about the traditional repertoire? Is the
great orchestral music of the past doomed to fade
out of the cultural conversation? Given the new
political climate, the future looks bright for neither
the arts nor the sciences. Is the concert hall, like
the movie palace, merely a lingering cultural remnant
where dwindling audiences still fetishize their antiquated
cultural ceremonies?
Says Mitchell, “We are always lamenting that this tradition
is going away, but it’s not. Did you know that TIME
magazine pronounced the death of classical music?
They did! — in 1961.”

It appears that the Colorado Symphony will continue
to roll with the punches.
========================
II. US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO APPEAL 100% LICENSING AGREEMENT

The US Department Of Justice has confirmed it will appeal the
impromptu court ruling that overturned its decision on whether
or not American collecting societies BMI and ASCAP must
operate a 100% licensing system.
All you consent decree fans out there will remember that
when the DoJ reviewed the regulations governing the
collective licensing of song rights by American performing
rights organisations BMI and ASCAP, it concluded earlier this
year that both societies should be offering 100% licences.
But the two societies, and pretty much every American
songwriter and music publisher, insisted the government
department had got it wrong, wrong, wrong.

Under a BMI licence, 100% licensing would mean that a
licensee would be able to use any song in the society’s
catalogue, even if BMI only controlled a slice of said song.
Traditionally the licensee would need a separate license
from whichever entity or entities controlled the other
slices of a co-owned work, which might be ASCAP or
smaller American PROs SESAC or GMR. Under the 100%
licensing system, BMI would receive all the royalties and
would then need to pay the other societies their share.

As soon as the DoJ confirmed its conclusion on this point,
ASCAP said it would lobby Congress on the issue, while
BMI took the matter to court. In September, at what was
expected to be hearing to discuss the time tabling for
that court case, the judge who oversees the BMI consent
decree, Louis Stanton, reached an immediate surprise
judgement, ruling in BMI’s favour. The DoJ had got it
wrong with all that 100% licensing nonsense, and BMI
was perfectly entitled to operate the opposite system,
aka fractional licensing.

The DoJ’s appeal means that Stanton’s interpretation
of BMI’s consent decree will now be considered by the
Second Circuit court. BMI said on Friday that the
government agency’s decision to appeal the ruling
was “disappointing” but not a surprise. BMI boss Mike
O’Neill added: “While we hoped the DoJ would accept
Judge Stanton’s decision, we are not surprised it
chose to file an appeal”.

He went on: “It is unfortunate that the DoJ continues
to fight for an interpretation of BMI’s consent decree
that is at odds with hundreds of thousands of
songwriters and composers, the country’s two
largest performing rights organisations, numerous
publishers and members of the music community,
members of Congress, a US Governor, the US
Copyright Office and, in Judge Stanton, a federal
judge. We believe Judge Stanton’s decision is
correct and look forward to defending our position
in the Court Of Appeals for the Second Circuit”.

Rival PRO ASCAP backs BMI on this issue, the
assumption being that if a court rules in BMI’s
favour on 100% licensing, the same principle
will have to be applied to its consent decree.
Its CEO, Beth Matthews, said this weekend: “The
Second Circuit’s ruling in this case will affect the
rights of more than a million American songwriters
and composers, thousands of whom have expressed
strong opposition to the DoJ’s position, and we are
hopeful the court will affirm Judge Stanton’s decision”.

She concluded that “ASCAP looks forward to resolution
of this matter as we continue to advocate for modernising
the consent decrees for today’s world”.

===========================================

III. NACUSA COMPOSITION SUBMISSIONS FROM EAST COAST MEMBERS

Plans are being made to sponsor one concert in New York City during
the 2017 spring season. The event will mark and celebrate NACUSA’s
84th season.

The program will feature works by composers who are current members
of the East Coast Chapter of the National Association of Composers, USA.

Composers interested in participating in these programs are invited
to submit scores for consideration to:

MAX LIFCHITZ
Chair, Program Committee
P.O. Box 5108
Albany, NY 12205-0108

The deadline for the receipt of scores is Thursday, December 1, 2016.

Compositions for voice, solo instruments and/or chamber ensembles will
be considered.

All scores should be clearly labeled with the name, address, current
phone number and e-mail of the composer.

Please submit xerox copies of scores only. Do not send parts. Include
a brief up-to-date biographical sketch. If available, please also send
a CD recording of the submitted work(s). Submitted materials cannot
be returned.

Composers will be responsible for engaging and paying their performers.
Composers will also be responsible for supervising rehearsals and
performance of their work. The East Coast Chapter of NACUSA can only
assume responsibility for expenses involved in renting the hall,
printing programs and publicity.

Current members of NACUSA‚s East Coast Chapter will be considered for
inclusion. Only members who have paid their dues for 2016-17 will be
onsidered. Scores should be accompanied by a check for $30 to cover
East Coast Chapter dues.

Please make check payable to the National Association of Composers,
USA. In the lower left corner of the check, please indicate that
it is for East Coast Chapter dues.

Prospective members are encouraged to submit works, but should do
so with accompanying membership fee.

Composers whose works are selected will be notified by January
15, 2017.

The National Association of Composers, USA will celebrate its
84th anniversary during the 2016-17 season. Founded by composer/
conductor Henry Hadley, it began its activities in New York
City during the 1932-33 season.

Max Lifchitz
http://www.music-usa.org/nacusa
(more…)

BMI RESPONDS / PACIFIC SYMPHONY / NACUSA / EVENTS

Friday, November 11th, 2016

11/11/16

I. BMI RESPONDS TO DOJ APPEAL OF FRACTIONAL LICENSING RULING
II. PACIFIC SYMPHONY
III. NACUSA CONCERT NOVEMBER 15th
IV. EVENTS

 

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
 scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal

– L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician

=============================================

I. BMI RESPONDS TO DOJ APPEAL OF FRACTIONAL

LICENSING RULING

Dear BMI member,
As you know, on September 16 federal Judge Louis Stanton

issued an order rejecting the U.S. Department of Justice’s

(DOJ) recent interpretation of the BMI consent decree,

concluding that BMI is free to engage in the fractional

licensing of musical works. As we expected, the DOJ

filed a motion today to appeal that decision. Rest assured

that BMI is well prepared to once again defend our position

in court.

I would like to share my statement to the press regarding

the appeal:

“While we hoped the DOJ would accept Judge Stanton’s

decision, we are not surprised it chose to file an appeal.

It is unfortunate that the DOJ continues to fight for an

interpretation of BMI’s consent decree that is at odds

with hundreds of thousands of songwriters and composers,

the country’s two largest performing rights organizations,

numerous publishers and members of the music community,

members of Congress, a U.S. Governor, the U.S. Copyright

Office and, in Judge Stanton, a federal judge.

 

We believe Judge Stanton’s decision is correct and look

forward to defending our position in the Court of Appeals

for the Second Circuit.”

 

As always, I will continue to update you on further happenings

on this front. In the meantime, please know that we are

approaching this development in the same way that led us

to our initial victory – by fighting to protect your rights

and maximize the value of your music.

Mike O’Neill

=============================================

II. ANOTHER PACIFIC SYMPHONY ARTICLE

As the music industry changes, the Pacific Symphony tries to keep up
Michael Hiltzik

Subscribers to the Pacific Symphony’s 12-concert classical series are
marking their calendars for the next performance later this month,
featuring the distinguished Spanish pianist Joaquin Achucarro in
the Grieg Piano Concerto. They should mark it with an asterisk,
because the orchestra is talking about going on strike.

The group’s 84 musicians (four more seats are currently vacant)
have been working without a contract since Aug. 31, when their
last four-year contract expired. They rejected management’s last
contract offer on Oct. 23. No talks are currently scheduled, and
the players are getting anxious about what happened last time,
when the negotiations stretched over a year and a half.

“Time is of the essence,” says Adam Neeley, a violist and head
of the bargaining committee for the players, who are members
of the American Federation of Musicians. “We have a clear
mandate from the members that we’re not going to keep
playing and playing without any negotiations.”

Labor unrest seems to be sweeping through the U.S. symphony
corps, with a strike at the Pittsburgh Symphony entering its second month
and a work stoppage at the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra causing
the cancellation of concerts through December. A two-day strike
staged in September by musicians of the storied Philadelphia
Orchestra — who hoped to recover some of the pay they lost
during the orchestra’s 2011 bankruptcy —  forced cancellation
of its season-opening gala.

These tensions reflect the challenges generally facing performing
arts groups in the U.S., including an aging audience and more
tightfisted donors. Unlike employers such as manufacturing or
service companies, these groups have few options to stem rising
costs.  “There are no opportunities for productivity gains in the
performing arts,” says Robert J. Flanagan, an emeritus labor expert
at Stanford business school who analyzed the economics of 63
U.S. orchestras, including the Pacific Symphony, for his 2012
book, “The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras.” The size of the
workforce is mandated by the demands of a performance piece:
a first-class orchestra can’t trim costs by having six violinists
on stage when a symphony requires 12 — at least not without
sacrificing artistic standards.

“Composers determine the labor costs of their works forever,”
Flanagan says. “Technological changes aren’t going to help much.”

On top of that, the Costa Mesa-based Pacific Symphony has
challenges all its own. Its musicians are trying to force a
fundamental change in its business model from part-time
to full-time, salaried employment.

The musicians say they’re trying to get the organization to
adapt to changing realities in the Southern California music
business; its management responds that the old model has
served it well, allowing for “slow and steady expansion over
the last three decades that sensibly matched our artistic
offerings with our community’s demonstrated appetite for
classical music,” as its president, John E. Forsyte, told me in
an email.

The Pacific may be overshadowed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic,
whose $117-million budget outstrips that of any other U.S.
symphony by a sizable margin. But it shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Pacific’s annual budget of $20 million ranks roughly 22nd
in size among U.S. orchestras, just behind the Indianapolis and
San Diego symphonies ($24 million each) and ahead of the
Milwaukee and Oregon symphonies (about $16 million each).

Unlike those orchestras, however, its musicians are paid per-
“service,” a catch-all term designating rehearsals and performances,
rather than salaried.

“They’re the only orchestra that size with a per-service model,
and they’re twice the size of any other per-service orchestras,”
says Drew McManus, a Chicago orchestra consultant who
writes a daily blog about the business.

In a sense, the Pacific is a prisoner of its own history. Founded
in 1978 at Cal State Fullerton, the orchestra became a favored
artistic side gig for Southern California’s army of studio musicians,
a relief valve from the film scores and commercial jingles from
which they chiefly earned their livelihood. They were happy with
its part-time nature because it allowed them maximum scope
to pursue more lucrative studio gigs.

“For a long time, at the negotiating table musicians tried to
get more flexibility in scheduling,” says Robert F. Sanders,
a former Pacific musician who is president of the Orange
County Musicians Assn. and participated in numerous
bargaining sessions.

In that environment the Pacific Symphony thrived. Its
ensemble comprised some of the finest musicians in
the country, it attracted world-class virtuosi as soloists,
and in 2006 it moved into the glittering Cesar Pelli-
designed Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Its
artistic reputation was strong. Several alumni have
graduated to permanent jobs at major orchestras around
the country; Neeley, a Northwestern-trained performer,
recently auditioned for a chair at the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra and remains on-call as a member of its substitutes
roster.

But film, TV and commercial work has been disappearing
locally. Film scoring has moved to London and other
overseas locations; TV commercial producers abandoned
jingles and now rely more on licensed pop tracks. “When I
moved here,” Neeley told me, “part of the plan was to break
in at the studios, with the orchestra giving me a somewhat
livable base while I started a freelance career. Four years
later, I haven’t played a single gig at a major studio. That’s
because the work is not available.”

Consequently, the orchestra has become the principal source
of income for many members; the “flexibility” its musicians
once craved now imposes an undesirable uncertainty on their
annual income. That’s especially true because the symphony
doesn’t guarantee musicians a minimum number of services
per year.

The musicians say the Pacific can’t maintain its artistic quality
under the old model, as its average pay will shrink in relation
to competing orchestras. Its musicians can earn about $44,400
in the current season if they attend every available service,
according to the musicians union, but the average member
of the orchestra probably gets enough credits to earn $31,400.

By contrast, the rapidly-expanding San Diego Symphony, which
has an annual budget of about $24 million, recently reached
a five-year contract with its 82 salaried musicians that will
pay an average of about $70,000 in its first year, rising to
$80,000 in 2021.

“What we’re arguing for is not only in our best financial interest,”
says Neeley, “but is in the artistic interest of the organization
itself. If we continue to offer compensation that doesn’t begin
to compete with our peers, we’re going to see people leave the
orchestra, and fewer people auditioning for the orchestra.”

The symphony’s management has made some tentative steps
to meet the union’s “concerns about the predictability of work
and annual wages,” Forsyte says, but the musicians consider
these half-hearted. The symphony is willing to guarantee 185
services, according to the union, but with conditions that
could erode that figure over a year.

The question confronting the Pacific boils down to whether
it’s a $20-million orchestra that happens to employ part-time
musicians, or a part-time employer that happens to have a
$20-million budget. At the moment, it’s suspended between
those two models.

What both sides agree on is that the symphony has made
itself an indispensable part in Southern California’s artistic
landscape. It’s not the musicians’ fault, or management’s,
that the landscape has changed under its feet, but that
makes the symphony’s transformation into a full-time
orchestra more necessary, even urgent.

(more…)

DISTURBANCE / RON GRANT PASSES / STRIKE / FILM SCORING / EVENTS

Monday, November 7th, 2016

10/29/16

I. A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE

II. LA COMPOSER SCENE LOSES A STAPLE – RON GRANT PASSES

III. PACIFIC SYMPHONY MUSICIANS THREATEN TO STRIKE
IV. THE PACIFIC WEST FILM SCORING PROGRAM
V. EVENTS

…Absolutely guaranteed anonymity – Former Musician’s Union officer

…The one voice of reason in a sea of insanity – Nashville ‘first call’
scoring musician

…Allows us to speak our minds without fear of reprisal – L.A. Symphonic musician

…Reporting issues the Musicians Union doesn’t dare to mention – National touring musician
=============================================
I. A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE

We have had it confirmed by two different sources that there

was a problem with the payments to the musicians involved

with the Star Wars sessions.

It seems the Union OVERBILLED for the sessions. They

distributed checks, then asked the musicians to send them

back. Reportedly it was John Williams himself who noticed

the over payments when he saw his own check and realized

it was too much. The person in charge of cutting the checks

was fired and replaced with a Lawyer .

Also, the Organizer for  the AFM was fired as well, the

reasons for which we don’t know.

We suppose if you cannot get away with double or triple scales anymore, some might try to find another way to get premium

pay. We suspect this was just a VERY careless mistake.

THE COMMITTEE
=============================================

II. LA COMPOSER SCENE LOSES A STAPLE
from the Society of Composers and Lyricists

It is with profound sorrow I inform you that our dear

friend and colleague, Ron Grant passed away on Friday

evening after a short but acute illness.

A consummate gentleman, Ron was the embodiment

of everything good about our profession. His creativity

knew no bounds, excelling at any artistic endeavor to

which he turned his hand. A gifted composer, artist,

photographer and technician, he continually merged

his talents and amazed us all with the results.

With well over a quarter of a century scoring for film

and television, Ron’s music ran the gamut from Knot’s

Landing to Tiny Toons, Casper to Dallas.  He was a

multiple Emmy® nominee and served as Governor of

the Television Academy’s Music Peer Group from

1996-2000 during which time he completely overhauled

the voting system which remains in use today. His invention

of the Auricle: Film Composer’s Time Processor music

software revolutionized the film scoring process and

earned him both an Academy Award® and an Emmy®

for Outstanding Scientific Achievement.

For The Society of Composers & Lyricists, Ron had served

on the board, with distinction, for almost 30 years during

which time he created our logos, our artwork, our banners,

our trophies, even our letterhead. His flair for design and his

ability to project just the right impression was unique. His

work as a videographer for the SCL was impassioned and

tireless, spending thousands of hours filming, editing and

archiving our events for posterity. It was of paramount

importance to Ron that future generations have the opportunity

to look back and see the evolution of the art and craft of music

scoring.

But above all of these extraordinary talents was Ron’s

humanity. He was one of the kindest, gentlest souls I

have ever met. Nothing was too great an imposition: if Ron

could do something to help you, or make your life a little easier,

he was there. His generosity was unbridled and his reliability

absolute.

To say The SCL owes Ron a great deal is an understatement.

While it’s inconceivable to consider what the organization

would be had Ron not been part of it, it is impossible to

imagine it without his presence.

However, knowing Ron, he would not want us to dwell too

long on his passing but rather be grateful he was able give

something to a community he loved so dearly.

Farewell, my friend. We are all better people for having

had you in our lives.

Rest in peace.

Ashley Irwin
President

===========================================
III. PACIFIC SYMPHONY MUSICIANS THREATEN TO STRIKE

Oct. 28, 2016
Paul Hodgins / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Members of the Pacific Symphony have voted unanimously to

reject the most recent contract offer presented by the orchestra’s

management and reaffirm the strike authorization they

previously had granted, the union for the musicians announced

Thursday. The two sides met for the last time on Oct. 18, said

Pacific Symphony violist Adam Neeley, who serves asbargaining committee chairman for the musicians union.

“The main sticking points remain,” Neeley said. “They concern

our desire to have a predictable schedule, a contract that gives

us more employment and a guaranteed annual wage.”

He added that among 11 peer orchestras of similar size, the

Pacific Symphony ranks at the bottom in the percentage of

its budget allotted to musicians’ pay and benefits. The

orchestra’s website lists 84 musicians among its members.

“We’ll perform on Sunday with Pacific Chorale,” Neeley said.

“We have a longstanding relationship with them and

will respect that.”

But he warned that the “Home Alone” pops concerts scheduled

for Nov. 11-12 could be affected.

Pacific Symphony management officials were unavailable

for comment Thursday. The union’s announcement was

issued shortly after the orchestra’s administrative offices

had closed for the day.

Pacific Symphony president John Forsyte, who is out of

town, sent a statement via email on Friday morning:

“Since its contract with the musicians union expired on

Aug. 31, Pacific Symphony has continued to act in good

faith to negotiate a new contract.

 

Our offers have been designed to address union concerns

about predictability of work and annual wages. The board

maintains its commitment to a contract that provides stable

and meaningful work for musicians while ensuring the long-

term sustainability of the organization.

 

For now, all programs will continue as scheduled.”

The terms proposed by the orchestra’s management are

punitive, Neeley argued. To play the minimum number of

guaranteed services in their contract, symphony musicians

are required to turn down other jobs when they are “on call”

for some services, Neeley said. In other words, they might not

be used for certain events but must keep those dates open nonetheless.

“Musicians who expect to earn $34,807 in the 2016-17 season

could only do so by sacrificing other work in order to keep

their schedules clear, and would have no way of predicting

when they would be called to work,” the orchestra committee

said in an email released Thursday.

 

Pacific Symphony is unique among America’s 33 largest

orchestras in its use of a per-service contract. All others

guarantee their musicians an annual salary based on a

weekly wage multiplied by an agreed-upon number of

weeks of work.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7979 or phodgins@scng.com
====================================
IV. THE PACIFIC WEST FILM SCORING PROGRAM
is now accepting applications for the one-year

Master of Music in Film Composition
One of the Top 4 Film Music Programs in the World!

Recently rated as the #4 school in the world for film

scoring education by Music School Central.

“in just one year, the school places students into a pressure
cooker of intense learning resulting in a professional demo
reel that can be used to obtain future paid commercial
opportunities.”

Learn from Industry Professionals

All PNWFS faculty are active professional film and game

composers, orchestrators, copyists, and engineers, including

the program’s creator and lead instructor Dr. Hummie Mann.

Hummie is the two-time Emmy Award winning film composer

of “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and featured in Variety

Magazine’s article “Leaders in Learning”.

Our Program Features:
•    9 live recording sessions with professional musicians at
•    Studio X, Seattle’s premiere, world-class studio.
•    Opportunities to work with student directors to score
•    actual films from film programs all over the world.
•    Training in all major software programs used in the industry.
•    A state-of-the-art workstation assigned to each student fully installed with the latest versions of all software, sample libraries and plug-ins needed to complete the program.
Accelerated and Affordable

We are the only one-year Master of Music in Film Composition program offered in the United States which not only gives our graduates the opportunity to enter the industry and start their careers a year sooner than other programs but saves them an entire year of living expenses. In addition to our accelerated format we also offer the most affordable tuition out of competing programs. Our students have access to FAFSA financial assistance, loans, and scholarships as well.

History of Success

We are very proud to have a high success rate for our graduates who have gone on to work on television shows such as Castle, Empire, and Once Upon a Time; video games such as World of Warcraft, Spate, and Destiny; and films such as The Revenant and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Apply now and you could be joining their ranks!

Applications are being accepted for the Fall 2017 school year.
We offer rolling admission – no deadline to apply.

(more…)