Collective Bargaining is the process used by unions and their employers to come to negotiated, binding agreements on the terms of work for members of the union. The process is complex, slow, and rarely leads to a contract either side is happy with. Both sides are tasked with submitting proposals and counterproposals ad nauseum to slowly force the other side into accepting their terms. Collective Bargaining, this work for chamber orchestra, is a musical mapping of this obtusely convergent process. A slow convergence of harmoniousness (partials of the overtone series slowly converging on the fundamental E) is juxtaposed with wild gestures equally slowly converging into a singular voice. Indifference from management (microtonal chords in the winds and brass) is met with increasingly organized responses from the workers (aleatoric gestures in the strings) until inevitably something close-to-but-not-quite-right is reached. This work is based on my own experiences negotiating for the Temple Graduate Employee Union.
Evan Kassof (b.1988) is a composer, conductor, opera-maker, union activist, and former physicist. He is pursuing his PhD in Music Composition at Temple University, and previously studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music and opera-making at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In general, his musical interests fall into three categories (with lots of cross-pollination): operatic/dramatic vocal music, science-music that sonifies physical phenomena, and left-leaning political music. As a conductor, he champions new music and also engages with important older works (Pierrot Lunaire) and unusual performances like cabarets and film with live orchestra. He's a founding member of the Philadelphia-based multimedia production company ENAensemble, which performs socially-oriented shows which stage films, chamber music, operas, and other performance styles in a coherent theatrical setting. More at ENAensemble.org and evankassof.com