MEAA Federal Council Report Final note: VALE John McAuliffe
Voracious Viola Study Trip Professional Development Leave Peak Performance Symposium Lessons In Confidence
Senza Sord JUNE 2018 Contents
Contents Contents 1
Overture Tania Hardy Smith_________________2
Orchestra reports____________________________ 17
Voracious Viola Study Trip Justine Marsden___________________________________3
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra___________ 17
Professional Development Leave Lachlan Bramble__________________________________8
Opera Australia Orchestra__________________ 19
Peak Performance Symposium Lessons In Confidence Wendy Page_______________________________________ 10
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra________ 18 Orchestra Victoria _____________________________ 20 Queensland Symphony Orchestra_____ 22 SOMA Executive Meeting _________________ 23
MEAA Federal Council Report Mark Phillips________________________________________ 14
Sydney Symphony Orchestra ____________ 24
Paul Davies – Director, Musicians MEAA______________ 16
West Australian Symphony Orchestra__________________________________________ 28
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra_______ 26
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra___________________________________________ 31 Final note: Vale John McAuliffe_____ 33 MEAA Application Form – SOMA Section___________________________________ 34
Cover: NZSO Star Wars: A New Hope Photo: NZSO Left: TSO performs with the Violent Femmes Photo: Moorilla Gallery Design by Bayliss Design + Illustration www.baylissdesign.com.au 1
Overture Tania Hardy Smith Orchestra Victoria
Hi everyone This issue of Senza Sord highlights two opportunities taken by players to advance their professional development. All our orchestras have PD clauses in their agreements – some much more comprehensive than others, but all providing the option of time-out to pursue extracurricular and career-enhancing ventures. I’m sure many players have accessed this opportunity at some stage, but this is an encouragement to those who haven’t, to take advantage of the possibilities that are open to your imagination. It’s vitally important that we all have the option of continuing to develop and learn as musicians, particularly in the middle phases of our careers. It’s also really interesting when a colleague returns from such a venture and is able to impart their perspective about the inevitable personal renewal and advantages of taking such a step. And importantly, as Wendy Page advocates, aspire to the gathering of information that could be of benefit to all orchestral musicians. Re-awakening the joy of playing and helping extend one’s playing career are big plusses for those of us who’ve been in our jobs for decades!
events, resulting in robust conversations and debates about how best we can serve and develop our industries, particularly as many members are increasingly finding their employment situation less than secure. It was especially pleasing this year to enjoy the company of several indigenous representatives from our alliance – they infused the meetings with great passion and character.
We had a successful MEAA Federal Council meeting in Sydney in February this year, with Anthony Pope and Ben Anderson from Orchestra Victoria coming along to observe. I always enjoy the biennial event that brings together representatives from arts, journalism, entertainment, sports, outdoor, music and
There’s an updated SOMA membership form on the back page for those of you who have wanted to encourage unsigned colleagues to sign up – now’s your chance!
We say vale to John McAuliffe, with a fitting tribute from Simon Collins. Many players will not remember John, but we are all indebted to John for his work as Federal Secretary of the Musicians’ Union of Australia before the establishment of SOMA. I’d also like to pre-empt a little the retirement of Orchestra Victoria’s Principal Oboe, Stephen Robinson. Enough to say that without Stephen’s untiring work as President of the OV Musicians’ Association, Orchestra Victoria would probably not be here. It’s an accolade that applies to many OV players over the years, but can be especially pertinent, particularly in the case of someone like Steve. Thanks so much for your commitment to OV – we’re still here!
All the best to everyone Tania BACK TO CONTENTS
VORACIOUS VIOLA V V STUDY TRIP
Justine Marsden Viola, Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Musical life as a member of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra has been filled with variety from the programming to chamber music and occasional solo opportunities. Despite this, during my 28 year career in the orchestra I have periodically felt the urge to gain fresh inspiration by travelling back to my student stomping ground in Germany and beyond for short bursts of viola technique â€˜brush upâ€™ and refreshing my beloved Flow Technique learnt around eight years ago. In March last year I had the opportunity to do BACK TO CONTENTS
Justine with Tabea Zimmermann
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this again during a whirlwind three week stint in Germany and Austria supported by my orchestra in the form of up to three weeks study leave every three years.
discussed the restrictions orchestral playing posed for one’s freedom of movement and she showed me how to free head and neck by playing with my head off the chin rest.
First stop was Berlin, where I had lived during the last years of the Berlin Wall. I had organised to arrive with a day to practise before my first lesson with Tabea Zimmermann, however it was changed on the evening of my arrival to the following morning. Not ideal after a long flight, jet lag and little warm up, however this was a great opportunity to ‘practice what I preach’! The Flow Technique is about creating a comfortable feeling whilst playing one’s instrument using sensory input rather than mental instructions. By practising this technique, one can learn to surround oneself with a comfortable playing zone in any situation enabling a quick reduction of anxiety and ‘warm up’ faster than usual.
The rest of the day I had the pleasure of listening to Tabea’s students’ lessons. They are all impressive in standard with great techniques and beautiful sounds.
I had prepared the third Reger Solo Suite and Brahms E flat Sonata, both presenting a balance of technical and musical challenges. Tabea worked initially on bow and instrument contact with a wonderful exercise whereby one plays open strings holding the instrument above one’s head, moving it up and down, at the same time playing louder and softer. Not an easy thing to do but I improved with practice. I loved the way she said (in German) that the viola and bow should seek each other out. Tabea also showed me techniques for strengthening the left hand fingers, such as using left hand pizzicato in fast passages. We 5
Although Berlin feels like a second home, the massive change to the city and its people (for the better) since East and West reunited has often left me feeling slightly disoriented when walking through parts of the old East Berlin. I normally prefer to make my own way around on the sightseeing front, however the
I loved the way she said (in German) that the viola and bow should seek each other out. hop-on hop-off bus trip tracing the path of the old Berlin Wall intrigued me, given my history with the city! It was most interesting to see the parts of the wall still left standing and to reflect back on my own memories of where it used to stand when I lived there in the 80s. When in Berlin I never miss the opportunity to hear the wonderful Berlin Philharmonic and a treat this time was hearing Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony and Pinchas Zukerman play the Elgar Violin Concerto. BACK TO CONTENTS
Next stop was Salzburg where I had two lessons with Thomas Riebl in whose mastercourse I had participated in Vienna in the 80s. He advocates a very relaxed approach to playing (practising Qi Gong regularly) and worked on bow contact and how to ‘awaken’ one’s instrument by starting the day playing very loudly close to the bridge with flat hair. Initially it is quite an ugly sound, however with persistence it is amazing how the instrument responds and the sound transforms itself into a rich glowing note. We were even able to make of one of my ‘woof’ notes practically disappear with this technique. I couldn’t wait to try it again at home...but not in the hotel room! During my stay in Salzburg I was lucky enough to hear Tabea Zimmermann play the Hindemith Concerto, Der Schwanendreher with the Mozarteum Orchestra. A wonderful experience, as she had invited me to her rehearsal during which (in the break) she held a question and answer session with the Mozarteum viola students on her life as a violist (and Mum!) and on her approach to rehearsing and performing. Apple strudel
From Berlin I went to Bremen where I had previously learnt the Flow Technique from its founder Andreas Burzik. It was great to touch base with him again and hear how his teaching has expanded to encompass actors as well as the corporate business world. There I also met up with an Australian trumpeter who had been one of his students and has lived in Germany since the 80s. She has recently published a book for teachers on how to practise incorporating Flow as one of the elements. I learnt from her a new technique whereby one imagines music one is not actually hearing, practising it using singing and gesture. 6
On my ‘free’ day I took to the hills on a Sound of Music tour. The weather was sunny and unusually mild for March (13 degrees), and the locals (in t-shirts!) sat on the banks of the river. I coped with the out-of-tune singing around me in the bus and enjoyed
. . . he encouraged me to put my entire mental focus on the bow rather than the left hand when playing a difficult passage. BACK TO CONTENTS
With Jano Lisboa
the scenery, treating myself to the biggest piece of apple strudel Iâ€™d ever seen, with lashings of custard. Last stop was Munich where I played to two viola teachers, Hariolf Schlichtig and Jano Lisboa. Herr Schlichtig has taught many fine violists who have gone on to orchestral and some solo careers. In the lesson he encouraged me to put my entire mental focus on the bow rather than the left hand when playing a difficult passage. This is a technique I now use in teaching with great results. Jano Lisboa is Principal Viola of the Munich Philharmonic and I wanted to 7
glean some wisdom from a teacher who was also an orchestral musician. Before the lessons I heard a rehearsal of Mahlerâ€™s 4th Symphony with his orchestra under their chief conductor Valery Gergiev. I really enjoyed his lessons as we discussed vibrato and use of the bow in sound production and phrasing. I had many questions for him on orchestral playing, particularly about body usage whilst performing in restricted space. Although exhaustingly intensive, I came home fulfilled and energised from this inspiring three week opportunity and would highly recommend it to all orchestral colleagues. BACK TO CONTENTS
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT LEAVE
In many jobs, employees undertaking some sort of Professional Development every year is a requirement and perhaps sometimes a chore.
Lachlan Bramble Associate Principal Second Violin Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
In the orchestral world, or at least at the ASO, Professional Development often remains on the backburner, hard to contemplate in a busy schedule, especially when something substantial will require leave to be taken and possibly overseas travel. On occasions I have observed there to be a stigma attached to self-improvement once â€˜professional statusâ€™ is obtained. Such attitudes exist at our peril as there is so much to be gained from a prevailing musical curiosity, positivity and healthy ambition in our orchestras. At the ASO we have started to explore ways to make Professional Development a more
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important part of orchestral life. Practicalities in the first instance – our new Musicians’ Agreement will have specific Professional Development Leave, accruing at a rate of two days per year and capped at a maximum of twenty working days (essentially a month). Musicians can make use of the leave to pursue genuine PD activities. SOMA negotiators presented this as part of a larger ‘Artistic Vibrancy Package’ which also included mechanisms to assist musicians transition to another career or to retirement. The package was greeted with enthusiasm from our Management and Board – its seems that everyone loves artistic vibrancy!
valuable professional development for orchestral musicians. Lessons, masterclasses and conferences are obvious first ports-of-call but I suspect that with a bit of imagination, many more intriguing options will come to light. I have not booked my flight for the Paris Conservatoire’s annual boot camp for second violinists, (I hear they have a great class on silent page turning) but when my leave accrues a little, I’ll be there with bells on!
Once the leave comes into effect, the next challenge will be to build our corporate knowledge as to what might constitute 9
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PEAK PERFORMANCE SYMPOSIUM
CONFIDENCE Wendy Page French Horn, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
In June 2017 I attended the Northwestern University Peak Performance Symposium in Chicago. I was attracted to it because of the emphasis on performance psychology and physiology, and a particular focus on how to integrate these things into teaching, rather than the usual round of masterclasses and recitals and (dreaded) warm up classes. Although run out of the Horn faculty, it was aimed at all instrumentalists and teachers. About half the attendees were students, mostly American, the rest were ‘experienced’ like me, teachers and players alike. The two horn teachers at Northwestern (Gail Williams and Jon Bowen) had gathered together a selection of experts who have helped them over the years in the extra-musical facets of horn playing, and the result was a wellbalanced, really helpful three day program, and well worth the trip. I’ve done my best to summarise main sessions as follows.
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Wendy Page Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Dr Don Greene addressed the whole over four two hour sessions. He is a sports psychologist turned music performance psychologist with decades of experience applying and tweaking techniques typically used by elite athletes. What appealed to me was the idea that we can all apply these techniques to maximise our performance and introduce them to students as a conscious part of their practise, rather than trying to find it all out and tackle performance anxiety after it has already taken hold. On the first day he gave a talk about the science behind how we react to high pressure situations, and how the physical and mental things are related. He introduced what he calls â€˜centeringâ€™, a technique for consciously rehearsing a mental pre-performance routine to regulate your mental state during performances. This started on the first day as a seven-step process leading to a quick three-step process, but I gather you have to practise this a lot. 11
On the second day he spoke about mental rehearsal, why it works and how to practise it. He emphasised that many time-poor working musicians see it as a waste of time, especially mentally rehearsing in real time â€“ going over passages slowly, focusing on the tactile and aural sensations to make it more real to your subconscious brain etc, but explained the proven benefits on the brain and the body. Less wear and tear is a big thing, but in particular he promoted it as one of the best tools for improving confidence. If you get it right in your own mind even before you play a passage, you experience less failure, which leads to confidence. His other big confidence building tip was about regulating self-talk, how giving yourself a hard time works for a while but takes its toll over time. He suggested strategies for deliberately noticing your own verbal thoughts as you play, writing down the negative ones and then re-writing them to be what you would say to a favourite student, then BACK TO CONTENTS
Don Greene – Peak Performance Training School
Gail Williams – retired Associate Principal Horn, Chicago Symphony
substituting these positive verbal cues back into your own head as you play. Other subjects included memorisation, recovery from mistakes and bad performances, fear and how to use the energy positively, building courage. Perhaps the most amusing session was the one about adversity training, how to be focussed amidst potentially negative crowds and random distractions. We all paired up and did our centering, and then tried to distract each other while we each played a passage of music. Very noisy... Apparently if you do this enough you start to hope for distractions to put your opponents off while you sail through the audition in your bomb proof suit. Of course the biggest distraction for most of us is our own left brain noise, so the biggest thing I took from Don Greene was the importance of being aware of and controlling one’s own thoughts. I had two great sessions with an Alexander Technique person, John Henes: one workshop, one private. It was all familiar stuff which I’d not given much thought to in years, and great to see a technician with so much specific experience with instrumentalists and specialised knowledge of the peculiarities of horn playing. Most of his class was about 12
breathing not being hard work, and he worked his magic on a young girl with a debilitating stutter which had to be seen to be believed. Another session was given by Amanda Farasat about Aston Patterning, which, if I understood correctly, is similar to Alexander Technique and about postural awareness while standing and sitting. Really this session was about how to sit well, using chairs and props to maximise your body’s capabilities. The props included different sized and shaped cushions and bolsters for backs and bottoms. Another speaker was a horn player/martial artist/meditation expert with a frightening but inspiring back story. He had been a freelance high horn specialist, the go-to guy around Cleveland for squeaky high Baroque and early Classical repertoire, until he suffered a playing injury which resulted in half of his face becoming paralysed. His rehabilitation was long and complicated with the depression and loss of confidence that you might expect, but he was refreshing in his admission that he was a much diminished horn player in many ways, but still playing and enjoying it in spite of that. In the meantime he found a way of integrating his martial arts and meditation training into his recovery, and coaching other musicians in BACK TO CONTENTS
meditation as a tool for overcoming injuries, anxiety, preparing auditions etc. There were three master classes, all great. Perhaps the most un-horn specific was given by David Krehbel, a legendary ex-orchestral horn player now in his eighties, who laughed a lot and made everyone smile, and had many pearls of wisdom for the students that played for him (and the rest of us too). In the final Q and A at the end of the Symposium, it was interesting to see how many of these ‘pearls’ seemed to go over the younger students heads. They would ask him the same question in different ways and not seem to hear the answer. Q – What advice would you give a horn player starting out in the profession? A – Be kind. Be thoughtful. Keep dramas to yourself. Be prepared. Don’t bad-mouth anybody ever, because in the end it puts more pressure on you. Be critical but not judgemental. Another curious experience came on the day of the ‘massed horn choir’ rehearsal. There were eighty or ninety horn players in the room warming up conscientiously. We’d all spent a couple of days being super impressed by some very good horn students (and one brave professional) playing flashy pieces in master classes, but how many of them do you think would have the guts to sit in front of the First Horn folders? None. I sat there because I got there late and all the other seats were taken. I was in bad shape, it was harrowing and unfair and potentially humiliating. I got to test run some of Don Greene’s tips in a real life high pressure situation. In the end what helped me most was the Alexander Technique refresher. One brave young girl came and sat with me on the second rehearsal – I’m sure she’ll go places. Perhaps the highlight for me was a recital given by Gail Williams, because here was a demonstration of how all this stuff comes together over time to produce total mastery 13
over every facet of performance. Not only was it flawless virtuosity, but colour and poetry and flexibility and a beautiful sound, all in a program of mostly unfamiliar and challenging works. She played with such focus and seeming lack of ego, so I had that rare experience of forgetting it was people, it was all just great music. A grandmother in her sixties with decades of varied experience, still striving to find out more and become even better. I’d love to see something like this a little closer to home. It’s not just musicians who benefit from these things. I think it would be a great way to share information amongst interested health professionals, and perhaps orchestral administrators as well. There is a lot of really good quality extra-musical knowledge to be found locally, but it can be incredibly hard to find when you need it most. In my own personal search for relevant information I find I spend a lot of time explaining to health professionals what I do from day to day as a musician, and about the unique challenges we face. And of course those of us that do this for a living are still doing it because we are pretty good at looking after ourselves, being our own teachers and finding what we need, but a refresher every now and then is a really great thing. Plus new things are being discovered all the time. Could someone please host a Symposium called Musicians Nutrition? (Say that ten times fast). I’d go to that.
If you would like more information about Don Greene or Gail Williams, you can follow these links: For Don Greene: peakperformancetrainingschool.com For Gail Williams: hornmatters.com/2010/08/ notes-from-a-master-class-with-gail-williams www.hornsociety.org/ home/ihs-news/26-people/ honorary/675-gail-williams
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Photo: Mark Phillips
2018 Federal Council
MEAA Federal Council Report Mark Phillips Communications Director, MEAA
MEAA Federal Council met for their biennial meeting in Sydney from February 23-24, 2018. This report has been reprinted with kind permission from Mark Phillips.
MEAA Federal President Simon Collins has issued a rallying call for the union to continue to innovate to remain relevant to its members in a rapidly changing working environment. The union must be prepared to take risks and try new things to support members who are confronting job losses, insecure work, technological change and the ‘uberisation’ of employment conditions, Mr Collins told MEAA’s biennial Federal Council meeting on Friday. BACK TO CONTENTS
“The challenges of our changing industries mean hard decisions need to be made about how to best allocate limited resources,” he said. “Do we continue to focus on resourceintensive bargaining campaigns at the traditionally largest workplaces? Do we put more resources into servicing our existing memberships in areas of strength? Or do we take the risky approach of concentrating resources on searching out and organising in new areas? “At MEAA, we are responding through innovation. Just as the industries within which our members work are rapidly changing, so is the union. As I say, we cannot stand still. We cannot rely on the old ways. We cannot yearn for the past and hope for a return to the days of the closed shop.”
PEAK DECISION-MAKING BODY Federal Council is MEAA’s peak decisionmaking body, where 94 elected rank-and-file representatives come together every two years to deliberate on the union’s future direction. It met on Friday and Saturday in Sydney. The full Federal Council meeting was preceded by national section committee meetings on Thursday. The delegates were told that MEAA was holding ground in membership numbers, growing slightly over the past two years to about 15,400. “The simplest metric of success or failure is our membership numbers and on this measure, MEAA is holding its ground, while around us some other unions are in freefall,” Mr Collins said. 15
“Currently, we have a touch over 15,400 members, which is a marginal increase from when we met two years ago. Is this good enough? Perhaps not, but I can tell you there would many other unions who would envy these results.” The Equity section has increased members by 6% in that time, offsetting a decline due to job losses in Media. Entertainment, Crew & Sport and Musicians have also grown, while NZ Equity is fast-approaching 1000 members.
SUPPORT FOR CHANGE THE RULES CAMPAIGN The Federal Council received reports from each of the section directors, outlining their section’s priorities for the next two years.
Just as the industries within which our members work are rapidly changing, so is the union. Media director Katelin McInerney said the section will continue to expand its services for freelancers on the back of the FreelancePro membership, as well as the CommsPro membership for people who work in communications and PR. An industry-wide campaign for good jobs for digital media workers is also gaining momentum. Equity director Zoe Angus outlined the work the union is doing to tackle the culture of sexual harassment and bullying in theatre BACK TO CONTENTS
Paul Davies – Director, Musicians MEAA Bow Campbell finished his time with MEAA in February. Our new Director of Musicians is Paul Davies. Welcome Paul! Paul has worked as a national official for a number of unions over the past 20 years, most recently as NSW Director of Professionals Australia. He has set up and led campaigns in a many different industries, from childcare (Big Steps) to engineering and public infrastructure (Australian National Engineering Taskforce). He is motivated by the need for unions to adapt, change
and grow. He has degrees in Arts and Law and is a keen amateur musician who in the past has recorded and toured with rock/dance bands. While Paul will continue to focus on supporting the work of SOMA and TOMA he is interested to engage the wider community of musicians to assist and establish more sustainable industry funding and better ethical practice If you would like to contact Paul, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you haven’t yet completed the musicians’ survey recently sent out, please follow this link: meaa.org/meaa-musicians/musicians-survey
and screen. Equity, along with ECS, will ramp up the Make It Australian campaign this year.
movement’s Change The Rules campaign for a fairer workplace system.
ECS director Erin Madeley said the union was growing rapidly in the screen sector through the Get Real On Rates campaign, and would be seeking to improve pay and conditions for theatre and venue workers over coming years.
In other important decisions, MEAA will be developing a Reconciliation Action Plan and rolling out an associate membership category for the supporters of the union’s political and industrial campaigns.
Musical theatre musicians will be an area of focus for the Musicians section. On Friday, Federal Council was also addressed by ACTU Secretary Sally McManus and gave strong endorsement to the national union 16
Gold Honour Badges were presented to former Media section president Stuart Washington, former board member Lorna Lesley and Equity vice-president Jonathan Mill. These medals are awarded to members who have made a significant contribution to the union over a long period of time. BACK TO CONTENTS
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Lachlan Bramble, Associate Principal 2nd Violin After pleasant concert-giving trips to beachside Goolwa and the vinicultural Barossa Valley, things became a bit more serious for ASO in March with the 2018 Adelaide Festival. The centrepiece for us was the Australian premiere of Brett Dean’s new operatic take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. With a complex score full of booby traps and rabbit holes, the orchestra was buoyed by the fantastic reception to this significant new work by opera aficionados from all over Australia. The Festival was rounded out by a tribute concert to Leonard Bernstein and Kate Miller-Heidke’s eventual collaboration with the ASO. With all that excitement, our first Masters concerts did not take place until April. Nicholas Carter and James Ehnes took centre stage with South Australia’s newly elected premier Steven Marshall in attendance. He had a lovely time hearing Saint-Saens’ Third Symphony, which happens to be his favourite piece of music. So much so that the Premier followed us to a nearby pub for a Players Association social function.
1300 368 117 for a great deal
Nadia Buck and baby Abbie
Violinist Nadia Buck gave birth to Abigail (Abbie) in April closely followed by Caleb Wright (viola) and Ji Won Kim’s (violin) baby Teo a week later. Congratulations to the new parents! And for those who are eagerly waiting for news of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Enterprise Agreement, we are up to draft four, with bets ranging between five and ten drafts. I’m hoping for the former and we get it finished before it expires in December 2019!
ppca Phonographic Performance Company of Australia
PERFORMERS’ TRUST FOUNDATION Providing grants to promote and encourage music and the performing arts www.ppca.com.au
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Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Kirstin Kenny, Violin Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has just returned from an eleven day tour of China. We performed in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Beijing. Despite the expected slippery details of touring in China it all went very smoothly. As always the orchestra rose to the occasion despite heat and humidity. Tianyi Lu, MSO’s assistant conductor, was excited to conduct Carl Vine’s V in Shanghai. Members of her family were there to see her do a fantastic job. Tianyi informally took on a lot of roles on tour from addressing the audience, to tour guide
and general hotel staff wrangling. Cheers and thank you Tianyi. The production and operations team were fantastic as always and for the most part we all had lots of fun. Before leaving we finally signed off on our EBA and sent it to the Fair Work Commission. There is still a bit of nail biting going on but it is a massive relief to have that part of the process over with. We are already spending time discussing issues to be discussed in the next round of negotiations. We have had some fantastic appointments with Rosie Turner, Anthony Chatterway, Liz Woolnough and Richard Shirley all passing trials. Congratulations to all. One of the most significant changes that MSO has seen in many many years is the retirement of Geoff Payne at the end of last year. After thirty-nine years in the orchestra, thirty-two in the principal chair, thousands of amazing concerts and a whole pile of recordings, we have had to come to terms with not seeing him there quite as often. Congratulations Geoff. A legend on and off the stage, master story teller, one of the world’s finest trumpet players and simply put ...a top bloke.
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Opera Australia Orchestra Mark Bruwel, Oboe President, SOMA After seven months of closure, the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Opera House re-opened on New Year’s Eve. There are a lot of positives and a few areas that are still being worked through. The pit is more open with about half a metre coming off the front of the stage, the ceiling being raised, and the floor lowered in some areas. There is a beautiful light coloured timber on the ceiling with new air conditioning, speakers and lights – all giving a new recording studio feel. The most significant change can’t be seen and that’s the new sound enhancement system. In the Theatre the sound experience for the audience can be moved from intimate chamber to stadium. The orchestra’s sound can be adjusted to help facilitate a greater range of dynamics and general orchestral colour. In the pit it is possible to change the acoustic separate to the Theatre. It is also possible to adjust the sound to be able to hear different sections of the orchestra. While there have been improvements, there have also been challenges. The sound enhancement system has brought in the ability to change the orchestra’s sound on an iPad in an instant. With that come some serious questions in relation to the decision making processes of how the OAO’s sound is firstly determined and then maintained from night to night, and then from user company to user company. Needless to say this is still a work in progress.
where the violas and cellos normally sit. There is an advantage in having the string section leaders in closer proximity but a disadvantage in having all the ‘noisy’ sections under the stage. As amazing as the new system is, the physical limitations of the pit are still essentially the same. On a different topic, our new Agreement has been lodged with the Fair Work Commission. Salary increases are 2% for 2017, 2.5% for 2018 and 3% for 2019. We finally ironed out our salary structure and made some adjustments and additions to our LOP process. A time limit for negotiation was arbitrarily put on us leading to a series of Memoranda of Understanding being signed rather than the issues just negotiated and included in the Agreement. Backpay for 2016 and the adjustments to the Length of Service Increments have now been paid. Lastly, the court ruling in England finding in favour of the musician suing the Royal Opera House in London for hearing damage, is something we will all need to keep a close eye on. Particularly around monitoring sound levels for peaks as well as daily average exposure and making appropriate steps to protect our hearing for both scenarios, not just the daily averages as many of us currently do. I understand an appeal process is being considered. The implications of all this could be quite serious.
Another aspect of the sound enhancement system is the possibility to move the orchestra back to a more traditional seating with the winds in the middle, rather than out the front 19
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Orchestra Victoria Josh de Graaf, Associate Principal Oboe Orchestra Victoria kicked off the year with some delightful recordings of Coppelia with the delightful Barry Wordsworth – who was magnificent in pacing the orchestra through the sessions. From there the orchestra broke off into the first Five at 5 chamber series which grows every year, and a successful run of bodytorque, featuring new bite-sized ballets from today’s choreographers paired with chamber ensembles from OV to create a new, dynamic collaboration. This linked into the first of the main stage ballet seasons in Melbourne, featuring the choreography of one of the greatest, Graeme Murphy. The highlights for the orchestra were Ravel’s Shéhérazade songs and Stravinsky’s Firebird.
The season also marked the first ballet season (and the first outside a Ring Cycle) to make use of the expanded pit in the State Theatre, a welcome development for our artistic and OHS outcomes. This pit will be in action again later this year in ballet and for OA’s production of Meistersinger; conversations continue to ensure this pit becomes the default setting at OV. After another busy Hamilton festival in Western Victoria, which included an array of chamber concerts, an education program and a full orchestral concert, the orchestra embarked on another opera season of Tosca, La Traviata and Massenet’s Don Quichotte. As I write, we are in the middle of this most enjoyable season – inspiring conductors and casts making the autumn season fly past. Outside of performing, the orchestra has voted on an EA which is being prepared for submission to the FWC. A robust round of discussions were finally brought to an end after twelve months of negotiations. This was our first negotiation since the takeover, and the three year contracts issue dominated proceedings as was always going to be the case.
Principal Flute Lisa-Maree Amos and conductor Barry Wordsworth at the Coppelia recordings
While we were unable to turn this around, there were some significant improvements to the language around renewal processes, and conversations will continue around this ineffective and inhibiting industrial instrument. Indeed, the strategic plan currently being undertaken company wide gives us the opportunity to provide further education around the issue. BACK TO CONTENTS
Stephen Robinson with Lucinda Cran, Lisa-Maree Amos and John Noble at Stephen’s last Merry Widow
In more positive news, we welcome and congratulate Bec Adler (Tutti Violin) who has successfully completed her trial. Welcome also to Lucy Warren and Tony Zhai (Tutti Violin) who have begun their trials following auditions late last year. And finally, a welcome to Karina Filipi who joins us as Principal Tuba. While this position is a nine month contract it is great to have a Tuba position in the orchestra! The process to find a Concertmaster has also begun, as has a new combined audition/ Expression of Interest for Principal 2nd Violin, which is the first of these ‘combined’ processes we have run. On the management side, Angela Chilcott joins us as Head of Orchestra Management in a welcome addition to the team. It’s great to have Angela on board ‘across the road’ after many years at MSO. And lastly, we are now literally ‘across the road’ from MSO following a move into the building just behind the Arts Centre (which will see us in the space until the end of 2019 at least but hopefully beyond). Back in the day, the hall was the purpose built home for the old Victorian State Opera. It is amazing to (finally) be in the arts precinct of Melbourne. Equally amazing is the space 21
which, while still needing a bit of acoustic work, is the best we’ve had in my time at the orchestra. We also share the building with Carlton and United Breweries who are leasing part of the building back after its sale last year. Here’s to a few joint functions – will play for beer... Many thanks to Libby Christie and Sara Pheasant (amongst others) for facilitating this move. Cheers, Josh
In breaking news Lucy Warren and Tony Zhai have both passed their trials – congratulations and welcome to OV! And Steve Robinson finishes possibly his last season of The Merry Widow – looking happy Steve!
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Queensland Symphony Orchestra Richard Madden, Trumpet We shall begin our ride through the happenings of QSO with the sad news that that our Chief Executive, David Pratt, will be leaving us soon due to family reasons. When he made his announcement a feeling of deflation can best describe the emotion of the room as David is probably everybody’s favourite boss (well definitely in one’s top ten). His legacy is one of keeping an eye on the future with positivity, while quietly reminding us of all the current little problems that may make the journey bumpy. We wish David all the best for his future and thank him for leaving us with the ship pointing in a positive direction. Our readers should know that while we are currently looking for a new Captain, you can rest assured that sand paper was not involved…
QSO has been performing quite a variety of programs this year, in amongst five Maestro Series have been two Music on Sundays concerts compared by Guy Noble, two ballet seasons, a choral concert, two hired gigs, a schools education concert, a very successful (because our new sold-out audiences loved it all) contemporary chamber music series, combining local ‘riff-raff’ talent with orchestral arrangements (now known as WAVE), Commonwealth Games recordings and what seems like every note John Williams ever wrote and more to come later in the year. So now we come back to reality with an operetta, and are about to venture on to our first tour for the year, to the Gold Coast(! ) to play at their new outdoor concert venue.
The new ampitheatre, Gold Coast
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Our workload has been helped by the return of new mums Bec Seymour (Violin), Claire Ramuscak ( Contrabassoon) and Irit Silver (Clarinet), the successful trial appointments of Hyung Suk Bae to Associate Principal Cello, Nicholas Thin to Second Violin and Nicole Greentree to Viola, and we look forward to Alex Miller starting his trial for Associate Principal Horn. Alondra De la Parra has had her second child and Matthew Hodge in Marketing has become a new father. Richard Madden and friend
We also look forward to our new director of Artistic Planning, Tim Matthies from Musica Viva, starting up mid-July – my question for him is, what has happened to the overture?
SOMA EXECUTIVE MEETING SYDNEY 18 & 19 February 2018 Draft Agenda items • Intro/welcome to Executive members • Previous Minutes and Matters Arising • SOMA Financials and Membership • Orchestra Reports • Melbourne Opera Company • ‘Special Arrangements’ clauses – update • Music tuition/teachers – contractual issues • TOMA/LPA/MUA coverage issue – update • How SOMA is travelling, any issues on the horizon? Opportunities? • SOMA Executive/President • MEAA Federal Council – update •S enza Sord articles • SOMA meeting in NZ? • Any other business • Next Meeting If anyone would like any further information on the above, or if you have any questions regarding industrial issues in general (personal or otherwise), please see your SOMA representative.
OTHER INFORMATION If you are a member of SOMA, you should also be receiving fairly regular emails from MEAA specifically related to SOMA issues. If this is not the case, perhaps this is a good time to update your email address with MEAA! Contact MEAA Member Central Phone: 1300 656 513 Email: email@example.com And for your information the Pay Roll Deduction payment option for SOMA membership fees has been made available on the ‘Join MEAA’ online application form (meaa.org).
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Sydney Symphony Orchestra Emily Long, Violin
The orchestra began an exciting new chapter by welcoming our enthusiastic new CEO Emma Dunch, who officially started her tenure in January. Along with Emma there have been a number of personnel changes in the Philanthropy and Marketing departments, and we are lucky to welcome MSO’s revered librarian Alastair McKean.
Photo: Rosemary Curtin
Photo: Rosemary Curtin
Rick Miller joined the SSO as a young rockstar and has been in the band for an amazing forty-two years and eight months. He was appointed to the percussion section in 1975, and then to the position of Principal Timpani in 1986. Rick will be missed by orchestra and audience alike – the most enthusiastic audience applause has always been reserved for his engaged and passionate timpani playing. Craig Werneke, Principal Bass Clarinet, also joined the SSO as a youngster a mere 32 years ago and has seemingly not aged since (he has nary a grey hair)! Craig’s easy going and friendly personality, and mellifluous bass clarinet tone will be much missed. A popular and highly respected First Violinist, Amber Davis, has left us after twenty-one years to pursue her other passions and has embarked on a ‘Tree Change’ moving
with her family to a property in paradise near Bellingen on the NSW North Coast. Amber is no stranger to the country – before studying at the Con she took a break from music and spent a year as an outback jillaroo!
Photo: Rosemary Curtin
2017 marked the end of an era as we farewelled some highly esteemed, popular and long-serving colleagues.
Top: Craig Werneke, Principal Bass Clarinet and Clarinettist Chris Tingay Rick Miller
Bottom: Amber Davis and Kirsty Hilton
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Photo: Monique Irik
version of a Wagner Ring Without Words, and the Deryck Cooke completion of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony.
Victoria Bihun as Princess Leia
We have had many new orchestral appointments already this year and are thrilled to congratulate Victoria Bihun who has successfully passed her trial in the Second Violin section. Tori hails from country Victoria via Melbourne and Tassie, and is one of a total of ten alumni of the Fellowship program who are now permanent members of the orchestra. We have two new violinists and a Principal Bass Clarinet appointed to trial and we continue with our recital audition process for Co-Concertmaster, Principal Flute and Co-Principal Horn. In other news, Principal Tuba Steve Rosse is currently off on his uni-cycle on a job-swap with Perry Hoogendijk of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Congratulations to First Violinist Claire Herrick, who welcomed baby Myah with husband Mitesh, and to Associate Principal Flute Emma Scholl and Steve who have added baby Zoe to their family. A few new fur babies have also been keeping orchestra members busy! On the programming front, Chief Conductor David Robertson very successfully launched the 2018 season by directing us an in an all Mozart affair. With Emmanuel Ax we showcased six of the great Mozart Piano Concerti over three weeks, together with Mozart Symphonies and Overtures. Other highlights of the Subscription season have included two very enjoyable and exciting weeks with Donald Runnicles exploring his 25
On the other end of the stylistic spectrum we enjoyed turning our hand to the Baroque (and turning off our vibrato!) in Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 with Maestro Masaki Suzuki. Along with challenging programs jam-packed with Strauss Tone Poems and other such ‘notey’ works there have also been a number of weeks of Commercial artists this year – Evanescence, Paloma Faith, and others. You may have played with them too as they made their way around the country! At the start of this season the orchestra tried out a new venue – the ICC in Darling Harbour – and set a record with our performances of Star Wars: A New Hope conducted by Nicholas Buc, performing to a total of 12,000 people over two shows! The third instalment of Harry Potter also proved popular with audiences and we managed to sell six performances in the Opera House Concert Hall. We have had some wonderful soloists so far this year – violinist Lisa Batiashvilli was notable for her amazing rendition of Prokofiev’s 2nd Concerto, and her husband François Leleux sparkled on the oboe and at the podium. Our own orchestral members have also shone in starring roles. We’ve showcased Kirsten Williams, Paul Goodchild, Shefali Pryor, and it’s been a big year for bassoons with Todd Gibson-Cornish and Matthew Wilkie both taking to the front of the stage! The middle of the year looks to be very busy and we have a European tour with David Robertson on the horizon to finish up the working year. Many thanks go to Kees Boersma for his dedicated work as President of the Musicians’ Exec, and we have welcomed Rosemary Curtin in this role. BACK TO CONTENTS
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Matt Goddard, Principal Timpani Guest Conductor, Johannnes Fritzsch is the director of the course. This year there were eleven participants who worked initially with pianists before five rehearsal calls with the full orchestra culminating in a performance at the Federation Concert Hall.
We then moved on to another first: the Australian Conducting Academy Summer School. The school is run by the TSO in partnership with the University of Tasmania and will be an annual event. TSO Principal
After a couple of weeks of recording and two (mostly) dry outdoor concerts, Marko Letonja arrived for the first concerts in his final season as Chief Conductor. Amongst these was a semi-staged performance of selections from
Photo: Moorilla Gallery
The year started in usual style for TSO with performances at MONA FOMA. This year was a world first with two sell out performances with the Violent Femmes. Great arrangements were written by TSO Principal Tuba, Tim Jones, and a fun time was had by all.
TSO performs with the Violent Femmes
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The TSO and Eivind Aadland rehearsing with the Launceston Philharmonic Orchestra
the Grieg’s complete Peer Gynt. It was nice perform the music in its dramatic context. The wind section has toured regionally, the strings performed two concerts with Avi Avital as mandolin soloist and the brass, timpani and percussion are performing a concert in
late May. We’ve had our annual two weeks recording and performing with British pianist, Howard Shelley and we are looking forward to performing a programme of Vaughan Williams, Britten, Walton and Elgar with Sir Andrew Davis shortly. Another first for us was a side-by-side rehearsal with the Launceston Philharmonic Orchestra on the morning following a Masters concert in Launceston. With conductor Eivind Aadland, we rehearsed music from their upcoming concert. It was a very successful event. Mitchell Nissen commenced as Principal Bass Trombone at the start of the year and Jonathan Békés recently completed his trial successfully in the cello section. Our CEO and Managing Director, Nicholas Heyward, has announced that he will retire at the end of the year after 17 years at the helm. Jacqui Walkden, previously Librarian and most recently Orchestra Co-ordinator, has recently commenced as the new Director of Operations.
Johannes Fritzsch with Australian Conducting Academy participant, Joel Bass
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West Australian Symphony Orchestra Rachael Kirk, Viola As always, orchestral life in the west has been busy and varied with our regular diet of subscription concerts interspersed with opera, ballet, school and community performances, as well as performing the sound-tracks for Planet Earth II and Harry Potter 3 and the backing for bands such as Eskimo Joe. March saw the return of Principal Conductor Asher Fisch and we performed some exciting programs including Strauss’ Alpine Symphony and Beethoven 9 and we recorded a CD of Wagner with Stuart Skelton.
In the other team-building activity, we all had a fun time dressing up for the recent Symphonic Tribute to Comic-Con concert,
All photos: Sam Tout and Julia Brooke
This year we’ve undertaken a couple of new activities that have proven to be excellent orchestral team-building exercises – much more productive than those dreaded Training
Days! The first of these was our inaugural Festival of Chamber Music, an event involving twelve chamber music concerts presented over two days at the Perth Concert Hall. Logistically it was very complex and our awesome orchestral management was kept very busy making sure everything was in the right place at the right time in the preceding rehearsal weeks and at the performances. It was busy for the musicians as well, but it was wonderful having the opportunity to work in smaller ensembles and we look forward to the concept continuing next year.
WASO Symphonic Tribute to Comic-Con
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WASO in all its glory
with the majority of costumes courtesy of a generous patron who gave us access to the entire contents of her costume-hire shop. We had most of the superheroes covered plus many characters from movies, TV shows and computer games. Did you know Yoda played the cello? The performance was made
even more memorable by the now infamous deflation of conductor Chris Dragon’s T-Rex costume mid-way through Jurassic Park. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out on social media. More recently we’ve performed The Cunning Little Vixen with the WA Opera conducted by Johannes Fritzsch. This was the first time most of us had played this opera and it was refreshing for all, orchestra and audience alike, to experience an opera not in the ‘Top 10’. There have been some recent changes at the helm of WASO with the announcement in March that Janet Holmes à Court was stepping down from the role of Chairman of the WASO Board after twenty years of unending hard work and support. We thank Janet for her huge contribution to WASO and we’re delighted that she’s agreed to remain on the Board. We welcome Richard Goyder, previously CEO of Wesfarmers and current Chairman of the AFL Commission, to the role of Chairman of the WASO Board.
Ashley ‘Superman’ Smith and Michael ‘Queen Amidala’ Waye
Another departure of note was the surprise retirement at the end of 2017 of Associate Principal Double Bass Joan Wright after well over thirty years of wonderful music-making BACK TO CONTENTS
Ben ‘The Phantom’ Caddy
Liam O’Malley, Julia Brooke, Chris Dragon, Brian Maloney, Christina Katsimbardis and Frankie Lo Surdo
with WASO. We’re missing Joan but we doubt she’s missing us as she continues her extended trip around Australia with partner Jim Mann. We wish her well in her retirement and on her travels wherever they may take her. On the recruitment front we are delighted to welcome Alex Isted to the violin section after her successful trial.
Frankie ‘Buzz’ Lo Surdo and Pete ‘Woody’ Miller
Social news: We congratulate violinist Kate Sullivan on her marriage to Paul Prothero in December. We also welcome two new additions to the extended WASO family: Nina born in February to Nik Babic (viola) and his wife Jeanette, and Humphrey, first-born of Keith McGowan (Orchestral Management) and his wife Tori. We wish them many long nights of uninterrupted sleep!
Even Superheroes need a cuppa! Andrew ‘Batman’ Sinclair
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New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Carolyn Mills, Principal Harp The NZSO has had a varied and exciting start to 2018. Nelson Opera in the Park is a long standing institution, and on a beautiful February evening we played to a crowd of over 7000 in the delightful company of tenor Simon O’Neill and soprano Anna Leese, as well as award winning singer songwriter Bic Runga and her band.
Our Music Director Series began with the stunning Naughton sisters performing Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos in E Flat Major to full houses across the country. Familiar audience pleasing programmes in April included La Mer and Bolero, as well as the wonderful Sasha Cooke singing Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été. Our new Shed Series began with an exhilarating combination of Frank Zappa, Mozart and Varese. The informal atmosphere
March brought out Star Wars fans, many dressed in character for the occasion, who filled the venue for both live music showings of Star Wars: A New Hope as part of the NZ Festival. For many, especially of the younger generations, it was their first time
to see the movie and their first live orchestral experience...a doubly exciting event.
Star Wars publicity photo
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Bridget Douglas, NZSO Principal Flute, at the Shed
festival celebrating the life and works of puppeteer, filmmaker and creative genius Jim Henson, the NZSO offered four sold-out performances of the musical world of Jim Henson. It featured the characters and music from Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show, as well as film footage of The Dark Crystal and archival footage of Henson’s magic worlds. The concerts were hosted by Wellington’s own Bret McKenzie, who won an Academy Award for his musical directorship on the characters’ 2011 release, The Muppet Movie.
and casual format (including open bar throughout the concert) was a hit. The orchestra enjoyed performing large and small ensemble works, and the up close and lively interaction with a sold-out room full of new faces.
Our viola section has been joined by Sam Burstin from the UK, who has taken up the position of Associate Principal. Section Principals Julia (viola) and Andrew (cello) Joyce welcomed baby Hannah into their family in January, and first violinist Anna Van Der Zee’s daughter Greta arrived in February. We warmly welcome the new arrivals!
Photo: Rob Sarkies
Photo: Peter Linz
The NZSO recently performed with some other familiar faces. As part of the Jim Henson Retrospectacle, a three-week
May has been busy with Leonard Bernstein At 100, and The Four Seasons rounding out a contrasting pair of programmes.
NZSO percussionists and timpanist Bruce McKinnon, Lenny Sakofsky and Larry Reese enjoy the spotlight with their percussion colleague Animal
Bret McKenzie with Kermit the Frog
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Vale John McAuliffe John served as Federal Secretary of the Musicians Union of Australia from the late 1980’s until well after the demarcation dispute which resulted in the separation of the five mainland ABC orchestras into what we now know as SOMA. The musicians of Australia’s Symphony Orchestras have much to thank John for. Under his guidance and leadership, a national delegate structure was developed across the ABC Orchestras which undertook extensive delegate training at annual courses at the now defunct Clyde Cameron College in Albury. This highly motivated group of workplace activists met regularly and systematically tackled the substantial issues that faced orchestral musicians in their workplace. The ‘National Orchestra Delegates’ appeared regularly in the Arbitration Commission alongside John, in disputes that were frequently engineered to force change.
the Musicians Union. The demarcation dispute that ensued when the MUA resisted change itself, set these motivated delegates against their own Union and ultimately they faced John in his capacity as an MUA official.
Every single case was a win.
John’s influence on me as a young activist remains evident today. Every day I am using skills which I learned through my association with him and the National Orchestra Delegates.
It was thanks to John’s well acknowledged tenacity and his foresight in facilitating focussed training that this group achieved extraordinary change in working conditions and established musicians collectively as the major stakeholders in Australian symphony orchestras. It is now a matter of history that John’s support for our orchestral musicians became a matter of contention with his own employer
These were tumultuous times for all of us involved and feelings were inevitably hurt.
As SOMA fast approaches its 25th anniversary, musicians in all our orchestras, past and present should take a moment to remember the wonderful contribution made by John to our working lives.
Simon Collins Federal President MEAA
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What is your role? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Do you work in any other MEAA workplaces?
If yes, where . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PAYMENT METHOD - PLEASE INDICATE EITHER OPTION ONE OR TWO OPTION ONE - PAYROLL DEDuCTION For permanent musicians and also suitable for casual/freelance musicians who wish to have their fees deducted in the weeks that they work for the nominated orchestra where payroll deduction is available. I hereby authorise the pay officer to make deductions from my pay for MEAA membership fees for the weeks that I work and in accordance with the appropriate scale as advised to the pay office by the MEAA each year.
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June 2018 edition of Senza Sord, the official publication of the Symphony Orchestra Musician Association.