I hadn’t been to a Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA) conference in a long time. OK, since 2002 when I wasn’t re-elected President. So when Polyphonic suggested that we three Senior Editors cover our respective Players Conferences, I was a bit hesitant about going. OK, a lot hesitant. But I did finally decide to go and am very glad indeed that I did. I saw lots of old friends, made some new ones, and very much enjoyed both the conference presentations and the activities in Dayton. I also spent some time over at the Dayton Philharmonic office doing interviews for a Polyphonic spotlight on the DPO. (Check our Orchestra Spotlight section soon for more info about the DPO.)
Players conferences represent their member musicians to the national union (AFM) to facilitate communication and urge the union to provide necessary services to its members. They also hold a yearly conference for member musicians/organizations.
The International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) was founded in 1962; see Laura Ross’ excellent article What Is ICSOM? for an overview and a brief history. ROPA was founded in 1984 to provide similar representation to smaller orchestras. There were 13 founding members at the 1984 conference in Columbus OH. Two other groups of musicians have also followed ICSOM’s lead and formed their own players conferences: the Recording Musicians Association (RMA) and the Theater Musicians Association (TMA). ICSOM’s Canadian members left ICSOM when the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM/OMOSC) was formed in 1975.
This article is rather long, but it was a jam-packed three days. I’ve presented the information in chronological order so you can follow the agenda of the three days.
Tuesday morning began with welcoming speeches followed by a keynote address by Randy Cohen of America for the Arts.
Tuesday afternoon included ROPA officer reports and remarks by Tom Lee. Then the delegates attended breakout sessions.
Wednesday morning featured reports from SSD staff, remarks from representatives of the other three players conferences (ICSOM, OCSM and RMA), a presentation on analyzing orchestra finances by William Thompson from the Univ. of Louisville, and reports from troubled orchestras.
Wednesday afternoon and evening the delegates had a private tour of the beautiful Schuster Performing Arts Center, and then were treated to the ROPA 25th Anniversary dinner and celebration.
Thursday presented ROPA Counsel Patricia Polach talking about contract re-openers, Vinni LoPresti and Will Luebking from the AFM-EP Pension Fund, and David Nesmeth leading an Alexander Technique exercise.
Here’s my “Reporter’s Notebook” from the conference.Read More