In 1938, a group of composers and arrangers writing music for movies, being dissatisfied with the lack of appreciation for their efforts, decided to band together and form an organization to promote their general interests. This group of arrangers and composers were out standing practitioners of their art, and possibly, man for man, may not be equaled to the present day: Eddie Powell, Conrad Salinger, Walter Scharf, and many others, with Robert Russell Bennett as the first president. They dubbed their group “The American Society of Music Arrangers” (ASMA), the predecessor to ASMAC. Despite the fact that they were also composers, they decided to stress their importance as arrangers, where their rights were sadly nonexistent. At that time there were eight major studios, and each studio had its own thirty-five to fifty-piece staff orchestra on full employment. One of ASMA’s first goals was to also be fully employed. When they tried to get a royalty for their orchestrations, they were dismally bound for failure, a situation that still exists to this day. They concentrated on other values, like screen credits, better working conditions, improved union scales, even parking privileges, and anything they could think of that might not be too objectionable to the powers that were.

 

In 1987 the name ASMA was changed to ASMAC, a belated recognition of the fact that most members were also practicing composers. The membership has now grown to over 500, and the goals and camaraderie are also continuing to expand by welcoming members who are, or have been, active in the preparation of music for movies, theatre, recording, television and live performances. Through monthly luncheons, seminars and master classes and workshops, and “Honor our Own” events, we strive to bring the long term members into contact with students and young professionals seeking to become composers or arrangers in an unofficial mentorship program.

 

ASMAC offers annual scholarships in both arranging and composing, and annually recognizes leaders in our field by presenting one or more of the following: The Golden Score Award, The President’s Award, and the Irwin Kostal Award.

ASMAC NYC was founded in the spring of 2020 by Doug Besterman and Ed Windels, from an idea originally initiated by former ASMAC President Larry Blank, and with the generous input and participation of a vast number of the New York City musical theater community.

Current initiatives include:

  • Educational content featuring top creators in their field 

  • Guides for new and upcoming orchestrators and arrangers

  • Mentorships

  • A score study library of historic and current musical theater works

ASMAC NYC aims to provide a community for arrangers and orchestrators, principally those working in theatre, concerts, and recording.

We look to inspire, mentor, and educate our current and future colleagues by sharing our collective stories and experience so that our craft will continue to thrive and grow.

  • Developing content, tutorials, and other support tools to inspire our community and bolster our collective professional development.
     

  • Fostering innovation for the future of our field while continuing to build on useful past practices and approaches.
     

  • Sharing common practices through discussion as well as targeted committees.
     

  • Encouraging aspiring professionals through mentorship, educational material, and live example.

ASMAC History: Eighty Years and Still Going Strong