ICSOM Conference 2016

ICSOM Conference 2016

By Marisa Bushman, Viola

During the week of August 22nd, 2016, I had the privilege of representing the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony at the annual meeting of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1962, ICSOM is composed of the 52 major American orchestras (including our San Antonio Symphony) and the over 4,000 musicians who make up those orchestras. Each member orchestra sends its elected delegate to the annual meeting to learn about relevant happenings in major orchestras all over the country, facilitate communication between each orchestra and support each other with camaraderie and open lines of communication.

While the majority of the conference was spent sitting in a cold hotel ballroom, I found the experience invaluable. We had interesting presentations from a hearing specialist, learned about how the American Federation of Musicians has gone to great lengths to protect our travel with instruments on airplanes, and saw a preview of a documentary by John Beder, Composed, which discusses performance anxiety and includes interviews with amazing musicians from all over the world.

Looking back at the week in perspective, the most priceless part of the conference was the time I spent with my fellow colleagues from all over the country. I learned about the difficulties the fantastic Fort Worth Symphony musicians are having, the amazing 20% pay increase over the next 4 years the Musicians of the Kansas City Symphony and their management have agreed to, and the once deemed "unachievable" 40 million dollar endowment drive just completed by the Grand Rapids Symphony. We shared what we've experienced and learned about community engagement in discussion sessions, examined the cost of living increases that are making it extraordinarily difficult for musicians employed by the Oregon, San Francisco and San Diego Symphonies to even rent an apartment, and we had open and frank dialogues about the future of classical music and how we can all do our part to preserve the legacy that so many before us have worked hard to preserve for all of us. I am looking forward to representing the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony next year at the ICSOM conference in Buffalo, New York, and I am sure I will have loads of great news to report about our fantastic orchestra.

The Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony (MOSAS) stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters of the Fort Worth Symphony who are on strike after 14 months of stalled negotiations. A city enjoying giant strides of economic growth deserves an orchestra who reflects its prosperity. Growth, not cuts for the Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony!

Pictured below:

Delegates from the Texas member orchestras stand together to show their support for the Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony. L-R: Anne Marie Brink (Dallas), Judy Dines (Houston), Debbie Brooks (Fort Worth), Marisa Bushman (San Antonio). To learn more about how you can support the Musicians of the FWSO, please click here.