Carnegie Hall Concert Goes On, After Strike Canceled Performance

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(The Whiffenpoofs / October 2, 2013) By SUZANNE CARLSON, The Hartford Courant 5:13 p.m. EDT, October 2, 2013 EAST HARTFORDThe Fine Arts Commission is sponsoring a free concert by the Whiffenpoofs of Yale University on Friday Oct. 4. Scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Community Cultural Center at 50 Chapman Place, the concert will feature songs from a range of genres sung in the Whiffenpoofs signature a capella style. The oldest all-male college a capella group in the United States, the Whiffenpoofs were founded in 1909 and have been featured on a number of television programs, including “The West Wing,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Jeopardy!,” “The Gilmore Girls” and “The Sing-Off.” “Last year’s Whiffenpoofs were on the season finale of ‘Glee,’ which is pretty exciting,” said group member Benji Goldsmith, 21. [Sample Our Free Breaking News Alert And 3 P.M. News Newsletters] Every year a new crop of seniors is selected for the group. Goldsmith is one of 14 selected for the current group and serves as music director. “I conduct the group in performance and lead rehearsals but also sing,” Goldsmith said. “We all feel so lucky to be a part of this group, it’s definitely an honor and we really kind of don’t take it for granted.” Not only is acceptance an honor, it’s also a full-time job.

A strike by stagehands forced the cancellation, but the union temporarily suspended its strike on Thursday, allowing the concert hall to open its doors for now. A union leader told Reuters he was optimistic the two sides could reach a permanent deal by Friday. The dispute hangs on whether the stagehands – mostly prop-makers, carpenters and electricians – should have a role in a new educational wing that the Carnegie Hall Corp plans to open above the hall next year. The corporation wants to hire cheaper labor at the education wing. Negotiations with the union took an unprecedented turn on Wednesday when Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees decided to go on strike for the first time in the history of Carnegie Hall. However, when James Claffey, president of Local 1, emerged from negotiations on Thursday afternoon, he announced the union had agreed to pull down the picket line for the day, citing progress in the talks. “This is a goodwill gesture towards Carnegie Hall,” said Claffey, whose local has negotiated some of the most lucrative pay in the industry. He later said further progress had been made, and that even though picketing would continue, he hoped to reach a deal by Friday. Carnegie Hall’s five full-time stagehands make an average of $400,000 per year including benefits, The New York Times reported, citing the organization’s tax returns. Claffey said there were many more stagehands represented by the union who work only sporadically. “This dispute is not about those employees,” Claffey said. “This is about everyone else. These are middle class employees.” The strike forced Carnegie Hall to cancel a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra with violinist Joshua Bell. The concert was part of Carnegie Hall’s opening-night gala, the organization’s biggest fundraising event of the year. “We are disappointed that, despite the fact that the stagehands have one of the most lucrative contracts in the industry, they are now seeking to expand their jurisdiction beyond the concert hall and into the new education wing in ways that would compromise Carnegie Hall’s education mission,” said Clive Gillinson, the organization’s executive and artistic director.

Concert Update

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All monies go directly to help the refugees. From 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, there will be a free Meet & Greet photography exhibit at the Ashland Art Center, 357 E. Main St., Ashland. The next day, Saturday, Oct. 5, there will be benefit concert from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Grizzly Peak Winery , 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland ( ) Concert organizer Barbara Goldfarb Seles and other volunteers say this celebration will honor Stockwells hard work and the generous support of the local community. Tables and chairs will be set up on the grounds around the stage with a dance area in the center.

Canal St. $65 to $80, on sale 10 a.m. Friday at the box office and through Ticketmaster. Martin Short: 8 p.m. Jan. 18, Pabst Theater , 144 E. Wells St. $70 to $95 at the box office, (414) 286-3663 and The Chieftans: 8 p.m. March 7, Pabst Theater. $70 to $95, on sale noon Friday. Goblin: 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Turner Hall Ballroom , 1040 N. 4th St.