Just four years ago, the musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony were invited to become part of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, an organization representing musicians of the top 52 orchestras in the United States.
Grand Rapids Symphony’s Paul Austin led the effort that elevated his colleagues in Grand Rapids to the ranks of ensembles including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, and the Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras.
Now, the members of ICSOM have elected Austin, a horn player, to a two-year term as President.
A member of the Grand Rapids Symphony since 1999, Austin said he’s “very humbled and extremely honored” to have been elected at ICSOM’s annual conference held in Buffalo, New York, at the end of August.
“As ICSOM's newest member orchestra, it’s exciting that the Grand Rapids Symphony has been trusted with a top leadership position in the organization,” Austin said. “Along with the many positive things that the GRS has accomplished in the past several years, this is just one more bit of good news to share with our GRS family.”
Paul Austin, who holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Tennessee Tech University, served as the Grand Rapids Symphony’s first ICSOM delegate after the organization representing over 4,000 musicians in symphony orchestras and opera companies admitted the Grand Rapids Symphony to membership in 2013.
“Paul has made great contributions to the ICSOM Governing Board as a Member-at-Large, and I am so pleased that he will be stepping up to this new role, as we work to improve the working life of our musicians and the quality of life of our communities,” said ICSOM Chairperson Meredith Snow, who is a violist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
In ICSOM’s organizational structure, its Chairperson acts as chief executive officer while its President serves as chief operating officer. Recent ICSOM Presidents have been musicians in orchestras including the Kansas City Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic and Utah Symphony.
Austin was Resident Artist at Canada's Banff Centre for the Arts as well as the recipient of a Gilmore Emerging Artist grant from the Kalamazoo Arts Council, allowing him to study in London.
Austin has appeared as soloist in the Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 with the Holland Symphony Orchestra and has been resident horn player for the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck since 2001.
As a teacher, Dr. Austin has served on the horn faculty at colleges in Michigan, Louisiana and Ohio. In 2015 he joined the faculty of Interlochen's Adult Chamber Music Camp. A frequent performer on historical instruments, he is author of "A Modern Valve Horn Player's Guide to the Natural Horn."
Before joining ICSOM, Grand Rapids Symphony musicians were members of the Regional Orchestra Players' Association, which similarly represents the interests of musicians in regional American orchestras. With ROPA, Austin had served on the Executive Board of the Regional Orchestra Players' Association as Vice President and Media Committee Chair.
Founded in 1962, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians’ mission is to facilitate communication between all members of the greater musical community and to advocate for the arts in America and beyond.