An Interview with ICSOM President and GRS Horn Paul Austin
GRSMA Horn Player Paul Austin was recently elected President of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians. Christine Golden recently chatted with him about this good news.
Q: It seems to me very prestigious for the Grand Rapids Symphony that we have within our ranks the President of ICSOM, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians. Maybe readers would want to know how you accomplished that so soon after GRS became a member orchestra!
A: It truly was an honor to have been named ICSOM President last summer. Even though the Grand Rapids Symphony just joined ICSOM four years ago, we have been an active member of this organization that includes the top 52 orchestras in the USA. It is no surprise that the GRS is recognized as a leader in the orchestra world, and I am so pleased to represent the GRS on a national level.
Q: What does this position involve, and what are your new duties as ICSOM President?
A: Actually, the duties of ICSOM President are very similar to what I handled during my time as ROPA Vice President a few years ago. I suppose I come to the new appointment with previous experience of overseeing the 85 regional orchestras of ROPA. There is an ICSOM Chairperson, Meredith Snow of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who is the external or public face of ICSOM, its CEO as it were. My job as President deals with the in-house duties, more like a Chief Operating Officer of an organization.
Q: Being ICSOM President means that you must be extremely busy. What have you done in your new job, and does it involve much travel?
A: In the past three months, I have established an online Conductor Evaluation Program for ICSOM, and I served on the musician team for the Integrated Media Agreement (IMA) negotiations, which included travel to New York City. Since I handled ROPA's conductor bank from 2008-17, and negotiated the IMA in 2008-09 as ROPA's Media Committee Chair, I was very familiar with both of these projects. Also, I have coordinated ICSOM's Call-to-Action to raise funds for the musicians of the Puerto Rico Symphony, an ICSOM orchestra, due to the damage of Hurricane Maria. Right now we have collected over $200,000 from ICSOM orchestras, which says a lot about how the organization steps forward for its membership. In addition, I continue to manage ICSOM's Twitter account and enjoy keeping current with ICSOM's orchestras and topics about our industry. 2018 may involve travel to visit ICSOM orchestras, and I look forward to ICSOM's annual conference next summer since it will be held in Cincinnati (where I lived for 11 years during my graduate degrees at the College-Conservatory of Music, as well as being a free-lance musician).
Q: Congratulations again Paul on your new role as ICSOM President. We wish you the best.
A: Thank you. Being ICSOM President is definitely a high point of my career as an orchestral musician.