TALKING WITH SINGERS: CLARENCE FRAZER
Baritone Clarence Frazer, recipient of the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists (IRCPA) 2017 Career Blueprint Award, speaks thoughtfully about his chosen career as an opera singer, in an interview with Jenna Simeonov of Schmopera. An illuminating read.
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From League of American Orchestras
Updated information from the League about new executive order on U.S. travel restrictions
Updated information from the League about new executive order on U.S. travel restrictions
The White House has revoked the executive order concerning international travel announced on January 27, 2017 and has issued a new executive order that takes effect on March 16, 2017. While the legal and arts communities continue to study the order more fully, the League of American Orchestras’ Artists from Abroad website has been updated with information about key ways the new rules intersect with travel by artists from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. In addition to restrictions on travel by artists from those countries, global changes include immediate suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP); all nonimmigrant visa applicants must have in-person interviews. The elimination of the VIWP option will create more demand for consular appointments, so artists should allow extra time for the visa approval process. Vetting and screening procedures will be heightened at all levels of the immigration process. Artists from Abroad provides arts-specific guidance on the immigration and taxation procedures needed to present international performing guest artists in the U.S. Click here for more information.
Posted March 9, 2017
Behind the US Justice Department ruling about music-licensing royalty agreements
“The American Justice Department announced on Thursday that it had concluded a two-year investigation into the complex world of music licensing and decided against making changes to the regulatory agreements that govern ASCAP and BMI, two large clearinghouses for performing rights that process about $2 billion in royalty payments each year” for composers and music publishers, writes Ben Sisario in Friday’s (8/5) New York Times. “BMI quickly said it would challenge the decision in federal court, and ASCAP said it would ‘explore legislative solutions’ to the problems of music licensing in the digital age.… Since 1941 [ASCAP and BMI] have been bound by regulatory agreements called consent decrees. Two years ago, both organizations asked the Justice Department to change these agreements … to secure fair royalty rates in the digital era…. The Justice Department [instead] added a requirement, saying that for ASCAP and BMI to comply with the existing regulations, they must offer ‘100 percent licensing’ of their songs. Many songs have multiple writers, and those writers don’t always belong to the same rights society…. The Justice Department is giving the music industry a year to comply… It is unclear how this would happen, but industry executives say it could include the creation of new databases to share data that previously was proprietary.”
Posted August 10, 2016
Ian Smith, Chairman of the European Music Commission, has given this statement:
Dear members and friends of the European Music Council,
I write as Chair/President of the European Music Council to express my deep regret and sorrow that at yesterday’s referendum, the UK voted to leave the European Union by a narrow margin of 52% voting to leave and 48% voting to remain. The EMC remains at the core of my being and my responsibilities as Chair are if anything strengthened by this regrettable vote. I am happy to report that Scotland voted by a clear majority of 62% to remain as part of the EU and that could, of course lead, not only to the break up of Europe, which we all fear, but the break up of the UK too.
The majority vote has come almost entirely from an English-based populace who fear continuing immigration and want to retain control of the UK which is, in my view a misplaced priority and fails to grasp that we are stronger together. From a cultural and artistic perspective this is certainly the case and is why the European Music Council is strong and that strength comes from our members and our shared priorities and vision for music as a universal language that knows no barriers wherever it is practiced across all genres, all abilities and for the benefit of all peoples.
We will remain strong and focussed on our European and global agenda and I hope it is clear that what has just happened in the UK must make us all vigilant and ensure that we unite through the common language of music that is and remains our passion.
Ian Smith, Chair of the EMC
Visas: seeking more expedience, not expense!
This week, the League led a broad coalition of national performing arts organizations calling for immediate improvements to the U.S. visa process for international artists. Amidst lengthy processing delays, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed making it more costly to apply for the required visas for foreign guest artists, increasing the filing fee by 42% from $325 to $460. The date for implementing the proposed fee increase has not yet been set. The League has submitted comments on behalf of orchestras – and in partnership with a national nonprofit performance arts coalition including the American Federation of Musicians, Performing Arts Alliance, The Recording Academy, and many others – urging USCIS to make immediate improvements to the artist visa process.
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Proposed Legislation to Help Touring Canadians Enter U.S.
April 11, 2016 – As recently reported, visa processing delays by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service centers have become a major problem for Canadian touring artists and U.S. presenters. In an attempt to resolve the issues, a bipartisan legislation was recently introduced in the Congress.
The proposed “Bringing Entertainment Artists to the States” (BEATS) Act is intended to streamline the process of obtaining a P-2 classification for Canadian artists.
The P-2 classification is for artists and entertainers, individually or as a group (including essential support personnel), performing in the United States under a bilateral, reciprocal exchange program. The only P-2 programs at the moment are conducted under the auspices of the American Federation of Musicians (with the Canadian Federation of Musicians) and Actors’ Equity (with the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association).
Under the BEATS Act, Canadian artists would be able to file a P-2 petition for admission into the United States with an immigration officer at any Class A port of entry located on the border of the United States and Canada, or at any pre-clearance station at a Canadian airport, right on their way into the US. The Act would also provide Canadian artists the flexibility to alter the dates and venues of performances listed in the original petition. The only stipulation is that the additional performances or engagements cannot be more than one third of the performances or engagements listed on the original petition.
The proposed Act however has limitations. First, it would only assist Canadian artists applying for a visa through one of the P-2 union reciprocal programs that are currently established with the American Federation of Musicians and Actors’ Equity. Second, artists choosing to process their petition at a port of entry would run the risk of seeing the petition turned down by a border official, which would result in last-minute cancellations. Third, it is unlikely that Congress will pass the Act before the November election.
In spite of this, the Beats Act, just like the Arts Require Timely Service Act, is another positive step towards raising awareness of the challenges related immigration for Canadian artists touring in the United States.
New Ivory Rules Support Musical Instruments.
On July 6, 2016, new rules will take effect related to both international travel and domestic commerce with musical instruments that contain small quantities of African elephant ivory. The League played a key leadership role in national conversations with White House officials, top leadership at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Congress, and conservation organizations to successfully seek solutions that would address urgent conservation concerns while also protecting international cultural activity.
The rules broaden access to travel permits, allow for domestic interstate commerce in musical instruments containing small quantities of ivory, and very helpfully clarify that legally-crafted musical instruments are not contributing to the African elephant poaching and trafficking crisis.
In announcing the rules to reverse current travel restrictions and provide opportunities for ongoing domestic interstate commerce in musical instruments, the USFWS stated that, “We listened carefully to the legitimate concerns raised by various stakeholder groups and, as a result, are allowing commonsense, narrow exceptions for musicians, musical instrument makers and dealers…to trade items that have minimal amounts of ivory and satisfy other conditions. These items are not drivers of elephant poaching and do not provide cover for traffickers.”
What does that mean?
For international travel, the new rules remove the current prohibition on travel with musical instruments purchased after February 25, 2014 that legally contain African elephant ivory. This removal of the purchase date restriction is a significant improvement. By July 6, the USFWS will issue a revised Director’s Order clarifying the policy change, and musicians who purchased instruments after February 25, 2014 that legally contain ivory will be eligible to apply for a travel permit.
That sounds good, but there will still be problems with over-zealous Customs officials.
Under the new rules, a musical instrument that contains African elephant ivory may qualify for a travel permit if the worked African elephant ivory meets all of the following criteria:
– The African elephant ivory contained in the instrument was legally acquired and removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976;
– The instrument containing worked ivory is accompanied by a valid Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) musical instrument certificate or equivalent CITES document;
– The instrument is securely marked or uniquely identified so that authorities can verify that the certificate corresponds to the musical instrument in question; and
– The instrument is not sold, traded, or otherwise disposed of while outside the certificate holder’s country of usual residence.
This is not over yet.
Further requests of the music community related to easing international travel restrictions will be under consideration in separate U.S. rulemaking procedures, and as CITES is renegotiated in 2016.
Here’s how to board Airberlin with a viola or violin
Fiona Stevens has nailed it:
I had a very pleasant conversation today with Frau Unger from Airberlin head office who has helped many of us violinists in the past. She allows me to post the following procedure for taking violins on board until the wording of Airberlin terms & conditions is changed.
Anyone wishing to take a violin/viola on board should write to email@example.com stating their flight & booking number, and the dimensions & weight of their instrument case. They should then receive written confirmation that they will be able to take the instrument as handluggage at no extra cost.
For anyone wondering why, whilst top management has decided to change policy in favour of musicians, it is taking so long for the official wording to be changed: this is (much the same as my recent post re Eurowings) because changing the wording of general terms & conditions requires every department (including legal) to ok the new wording, and this simply takes time.
Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition:
April 26 – 29, 2017 Queens University, Kingston, Ontario. Application Deadline: December 5, 2016.
A new Canada-wide Music Composition Competition
McGill University’s Schulich School of Music has announced a new competition open to all Canadian composers age 35 or younger.
The competition will be funded by a $1 million donation from McGill alumnus Dr Graham Sommer.
The Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers will “shine a spotlight on the best young composers from across Canada, bringing them to the attention of the Canadian public and the international musical world,” said Schulich School of Music’s Interim Dean, Julie Cumming.
The first annual competition is slated to begin in the Spring of 2017 and will commemorate Canada’s 150th and Montreal’s 375th-anniversary celebrations. Contest details will be release later this year.