The 2005 ICSOM Conference, hosted by the San Diego Symphony at the Shelter Pointe Hotel and Marina in San Diego, was held August 17–20. The hospitality, surroundings, and weather all contributed to a very successful event. Wednesday evening’s mixer at the San Diego Symphonys summer pops venue following a rehearsal, so many orchestra members were able to stay to dine and visit with ICSOM delegates, officers and guests. On Friday evening, approximately 20 Conference participants attended the San Diego Symphony’s concert with Dave Brubeck. It was a wonderful evening, complete with fireworks.
This year’s Conference included the usual committee and officer reports, presentations on a variety of subjects, and greetings from OCSM President Francine Schutzman and RMA International President Phil Ayling. Laura Brownell spoke about her activities as she completed her first year as director of the AFM Symphonic Services Division (SSD). AFM President Tom Lee addressed the delegates and answered questions posed by the delegates. AFM IEB members David Lennon (New York L. 802 president), Mark Jones (Buffalo L. 92 president), Hal Espinosa (Los Angeles L. 47 president) and AFM Canadian Vice President Bobby Herriot were in attendance as well. We all missed the presence of ROPA President Barbara Zmich and SSD negotiator Nathan Kahn. Duty called, and they went instead to a rally in support of Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestra musicians, who had been informed they were being replaced by taped music this season.
The Governing Board departed from the norm of recent Conferences and did not include a keynote speaker this year. Instead, the majority of the conference was devoted to the Conference theme, Focus on Negotiations. A panel discussion, Orchestras Under Attack, was moderated by ICSOM Chairperson Jan Gippo over two days. It included panelists Steve Flanter (Honolulu Symphony), Leonard Leibowitz (ICSOM legal counsel), Steve Lester (Chicago Symphony), Susan Martin (Philadelphia Orchestra attorney), Lynn Rosen (Utah Symphony), Mel Schwartzwald (Cleveland Orchestra attorney), Brian Ventura (Detroit Symphony), Emily Watkins (San Antonio Symphony), John Wieland (Jacksonville Symphony), and Chris Woehr (St. Louis Symphony). The panel explored negotiations over the past few years, discussed the changing role and attitude of managers and boards, and suggested improvements for the future.
Thursday evening’s negotiation review included participants Bill Foster (National Symphony), Jan Gippo, Len Leibowitz, Steve Lester, Susan Martin, Mel Schwarzwald, and moderators Laura Brownell and Brian Rood (ICSOM president). They touched on some of the topics from the Orchestras Under Attack panel, but also delved into board and management negotiation tactics during this last round of negotiations. Noteworthy was the discussion about a series of conference calls among the musicians’ negotiation teams hosted by ICSOM and assisted by SSD during those negotiations.
Brian Rood moderated a panel that explored the roles and relationships among orchestras and their locals. It included local officers David Angus (Rochester Philharmonic and Rochester L. 66 president/secretary-treasurer), Doug Fisher (Columbus Symphony and Columbus L. 103 president), Mark Jones, David Lennon, Robert Levine (Milwaukee Symphony and Milwaukee L. 8 president), and Lovie Smith-Schenk (Houston L. 65-699 president), as well as Laura Brownell. With so many of the officers also working musicians, there were interesting perspectives, and it was enlightening to hear all of them share their experiences and emphasize how important communication is between orchestras and their locals.
ICSOM Governing Board Member-at-Large MAL Bruce Ridge North Carolina Symphony spoke eloquently on steps that could be taken to fight the pessimism and negative rhetoric that seems so prevalent in the orchestra industry, in the process mentioning many positive and encouraging signs. MALs Henry Peyrebrune The Cleveland Orchestra and Steve Lester expanded on Bruce’s message and presented a vision of ICSOM, analyzing ICSOM’s successes, pointing out areas that could be improved, and indicating where we must go in the future.
Leonard Leibowitz presented important information about a variety of negotiation and legal issues, following up with a pop quiz on grievances. Adaptistration.com author Drew McManus highlighted the importance of keeping open the lines of internal communication with blogs and data maintenance. Bruce Ridge also spoke about the importance of new member orientation and of building relationships with boards, audiences and community members.
Twenty resolutions were reviewed during the conference. See page 6 for the complete text of all adopted resolutions. Editor Conference delegates passed resolutions that:
- established a committee, with representatives from ICSOM, ROPA and OCSM, to formulate recommendations to the IEB for the creation and implementation of a code of ethics for touring and residencies that musicians, boards and managements might look to when planning such travel, to help and not harm local orchestras.
- urged the IEB to take immediate action regarding the St. Louis Symphony musicians’ orchestra services program request.
- reinforced ICSOM’s support of ICSOM Counsel Len Leibowitz.
- urged orchestras to include language referencing the AFM bylaws in their local CBAs.
- established a program to document by videotape the history of ICSOM and its orchestras.
- supported Montreal Symphony musicians during their ongoing strike, Pittsburgh Ballet musicians in their battle against taped music, and Puerto Rico Symphony musicians in their attempt to preserve their bargaining rights.
- commended the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony for taking the high road in the press during their recent conductor search.
- thanked the many artists who assisted the St. Louis and Montreal Symphonies during their work stoppages.
- bestowed the title of “Honorary Officer of ICSOM” on AFM Secretary-Treasurer Emerita Florence Nelson.
The resolution recommending a code of ethics for touring and residencies is one of the most important actions that came out of the conference. Many delegates expressed hope that such a code of ethics would protect all our orchestras, but most especially those who are in trouble or have been disbanded.
Additional resolutions honored and thanked musicians who had given extraordinary service to ICSOM, many as Governing Board members who had completed their terms of office. Robert Levine, who already bears the title “ICSOM Chair Emeritus,” steps down as ICSOM Webmaster. Although he will continue to help ICSOM in many ways (including as assistant Conference coordinator), he leaves big shoes to fill. Lynn Rosen stepped down as MAL after one year of service to prepare for responsibilities as a first-time mom. Henry Peyrebrune stepped down as MAL after a two-year term to welcome the birth of his fifth child. Both Lynn and Henry have made remarkable contributions to ICSOM and we look forward to the day when they consider stepping back into leadership positions. Finally, and sadly, Brian Rood stepped down after serving for three years as
ICSOM president. Brian stepped in at a time when ICSOM was at a crossroad. His leadership, guidance, extraordinary service, and friendship will be hard to replace. Rest assured that while Brian has other responsibilities to his orchestra and his family right now, he will remain involved with ICSOM. He is one of those many resources we will continue to look to for suggestions and guidance, as we do with many of our former officers. We hope he, too, will consider returning to a leadership role in ICSOM.
Bruce Ridge and Laura Ross Nashville Symphony were elected by acclamation to the offices of president and secretary, respectively. Implementing a decision to better stagger terms of Governing Board members (made at the 2003 Conference), two MAL positions were elected as two-year terms and two as one-year terms. Steve Lester was re-elected to one of the two-year terms, and three new MALs were elected. James Nickel Dallas Symphony will serve the other two-year term, while Meredith Snow (Los Angeles Philharmonic) and Nancy Stutsman (Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra) will serve the one-year terms.