The founding of ICSOM in the early 1960s was a result of the desire and need that symphonic musicians felt to have greater control in their contract negotiations. ICSOM was the first of what are now five player conferences within the AFM. The other groups are composed of musicians who perform in US regional (ROPA) and Canadian (OCSM) orchestras, theatre musicians (TMA), and musicians of the recording industry (RMA). Each player conference has a defined and specialized mission.
ICSOM is an important resource for symphonic musicians, with a purpose of promoting, communicating, enriching, supporting, and celebrating arts in our country. Today, ICSOM represents the professional orchestral musicians in the top 52 orchestras in the US and Puerto Rico, both within the AFM and to the world at large. Note that ICSOM is not the legal bargaining representative of our orchestras; the AFM and its Locals perform that role. We are proud of our AFM union membership and stand in support of all our colleagues in the AFM and the other player conferences.
Having been ICSOM President for just a short time, two instances of positive collaboration between ICSOM and the AFM immediately come to mind.
First, negotiations for the successor agreement of the IMA (Integrated Media Agreement) have displayed our unified working relationship. I cannot give any details, but know that ICSOM’s media committee is working diligently with the AFM to ensure that musicians’ rights are protected and advanced in the world of symphonic electronic media.
Second, the presence of ICSOM and AFM in February at SphinxConnect 2018 in Detroit provided moments of solidarity as we represented professional symphonic musicians. Indeed, the very inclusion of ICSOM and the AFM with the Sphinx organization in the creation of a National Diversity Audition Fund is noteworthy. To be launched later in 2018, this Fund will assist in allowing opportunities for the training and placement of African American and Hispanic musicians in US orchestras. Such support will provide travel, financial support, and training opportunities for musicians from under-represented communities to attend orchestral auditions, plus establish a mentor network with ICSOM musicians.
Viewing the Recent News column at www.icsom.org provides a number of items further demonstrating the relevance of ICSOM. To highlight a few:
- The allegations against conductor James Levine, and the #metoo movement that sweeps our world today, were addressed. ICSOM’s Governing Board took a stand a few months ago to state our views regarding the protection of musicians, that we are to be treated with dignity and respect. ICSOM advocates that our employers provide a safe and humane work place.
- The generosity of ICSOM member orchestras was shown in their donation of nearly $225,000 to the musicians of the Puerto Rico Symphony as a result of Hurricane Maria.
- The reinstatement of an ICSOM Conductor Evaluation Program occurred in January, which provides confidential feedback about those leading our orchestras today. Now updated by using an online format, the opinions of musicians in this arena once again are clearly voiced. This data is valued highly in the hiring and renewing of music directors and guest conductors. (Note: See the President’s Report in the December 2017 issue.)
Our relevance and purpose can also be observed by reading our official publication Senza Sordino. Online issues may be viewed at https://www.icsom.org/senzasordino/. Of special note would be articles by ICSOM’s legal counsel Kevin Case; his March 2017 contribution regarding musician versus musician harassment in the workplace received much attention.
Our directory provides contact information for the nearly 4000 musicians of ICSOM, as well as our emeritus members. An online search option is in place now to allow specialized viewing of the data. Current and emeritus members with emails in the ICSOM Directory may sign in at www.icsom.info to access this service.
Other examples of ICSOM’s vital voice in several arenas include:
- The social media presence of ICSOM, which has grown over the past six months. Our Twitter feed, @ICSOM, continually reports news about our 52 member orchestras, classical music, and the arts (Note: See the President’s Report in the October 2017 issue). We reached our 10,000th tweet in October 2017 and have nearly that many followers on Twitter. Feature stories can be viewed at our Facebook page (ICSOM), including our weekly ICSOM featured orchestra of the week (a project now in its second year). Photos viewed at @ICSOM1962 on Instagram showcase our orchestras as well.
- The monitoring of ongoing concerns regarding the AFM pension fund. This is an issue of utmost importance to our membership. ICSOM’s Governing Board communicates frequently with our ICSOM Trustee representatives, former ICSOM President Brian Rood and ICSOM Secretary Laura Ross, who have our full trust and support. We continue to work with them on the issue of improved candor and transparency from the Fund.
Of course, communication is the hallmark of our organization. ICSOM’s annual conferences provide tools and information that help our orchestras. This summer the conference will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, and will include a day that would be of special interest to all musicians, featuring a tour of the newly-renovated, historic Music Hall (Note: see “Cincinnati Music Hall Renovation” in the December 2017 issue). We hope that the close proximity of many ICSOM orchestras to Cincinnati will result in a fine turnout.