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GRSMA's Active Participation in ICSOM

Location of their 60th annual conference. Re-election of their President. Interviews for their monthly DEI video series. Home base for their online Conductor Evaluation Program. All of these items indicate that the musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony are a vital part of ICSOM, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, whose membership is composed of the top 53 orchestras in the US and Puerto Rico.


Musician-leaders from across the country traveled to Grand Rapids for the 2022 ICSOM conference, which was held August 24-27 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Grand Rapids Downtown.

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GRSMA musicians were excellent hosts, led by our own version of P B & J: horn player Paul Austin, violist Barb Corbato, and percussionist Jack Latta. Jack served as this year’s ICSOM Conference Coordinator and made sure that all details for this event were handled smoothly, which included organizing GRSMA volunteers for the conference room's setup and teardown, clerical duties, and transportation to events which occurred away from the hotel.


ICSOM Conference Coordinator Jack Latta shows attendees everyone's favorite handy map of Michigan. (Photo credit: Leonard DiCosimo)

In honor of the 60th annual conference, ICSOM hired local video producer Marty Hogan to create a video of highlights from the opening day.  This included moments from the speech by GRS President and CEO Mary Tuuk Kuras, greetings from AFM Local 56 President Bennie Keys, and the welcome from Mayor Rosalyn Bliss (who provided a proclamation to name August 24th as ICSOM Day in Grand Rapids). Experience GR is to be thanked for funding the reception that evening, which was held at the Downtown Market and organized by GRSMA violist Leslie Van Becker. (Read more about Leslie HERE) 

On the final evening of the conference, attendees were given the choice of four optional community activities to assist in exploring West Michigan. These options included a private tour of the Meyer May House which was designed by noted American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, a guided walk along the Grand River that the city offers to discover the African-American history of Grand Rapids, a Beer Dash that used the city’s free DASH bus to explore the pubs and breweries of Beer City USA, and a hike to Lake Michigan at the Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

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Many who attended the conference had never been to West Michigan and appreciated the time to visit these sites and bond with other attendees. 


During the conference, Paul Austin was elected to a third term as ICSOM President.

First elected to ICSOM’s Governing Board in 2015 as a Member-at-Large, Paul became their President in 2017. “It is an honor to have been re-elected,” said Paul, “as ICSOM furthers the mission of improving the lives of orchestral musicians and facilitating communication within our ranks.” At the conclusion of this term, Paul will have served as ICSOM President for seven years.


Paul is also a member of ICSOM's DEI committee and now hosts a monthly video series that he created last spring to highlight their Musicians of Color. The first interview for Musician Profiles: Celebrating Racial Diversity appeared in June 2022 and was with former GRSMA double bass player Joseph Conyers, who currently is Assistant Principal Bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The October 2022 video features GRSMA violinist Haijin Choi, who is our Orchestra Committee Chair. We hope that you will take a moment to watch and share the interviews of this important series.


In addition to serving as our elected ICSOM Delegate, Barb Corbato is the Administrator of ICSOM's online Conductor Evaluation Program. Barb's duties include providing and collecting the surveys so that ICSOM musicians can give detailed opinions about their conducting staff and guest conductors. Upon request, Barb compiles and provides this confidential data to orchestra managers to assist in their renewal or hiring decisions of conductors. Barb and Paul were instrumental in establishing ICSOM's online system, which was launched in 2018.


Considering that the musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony were accepted into ICSOM in 2013, they have jumped quickly into the arena as a valued member of this organization.

ICSOM seeks to promote unity among musicians everywhere, and GRSMA is proud to contribute towards that goal.

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