By Beth Beshaw, M&T Bank Market President for Albany
On a beautiful June day, with a gorgeous blue sky above, I had the opportunity to join well over a thousand of our neighbors for the Sing Out! New York concert at Jennings Landing in Albany.
Together, we enjoyed a tremendous performance of the Albany Symphony that featured a composition inspired by Frederick Douglass. It was part of the annual American Music Festival, which M&T Bank was proud to support.
This year’s American Music Festival packed two weekends full of innovative, collaborative music that delivered stirring tributes to equality, inclusion and diversity. The Sing Out! New York Tour, which brings the festival to communities across the Capital Region, carried an important theme this year – From Seneca Falls to Stonewall. It celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and the 100th anniversary of the legislative actions that led to the 19th amendment, securing women’s right to vote.
As is so often true with artistic expression, the music shared during the tour was about more than entertainment; it was about empowerment. It was art created to deepen our understanding and inspire us to remain vigilant in the advancement of equality for all people.
At each of the stops during the Sing Out! New York Tour, our community experienced brand-new compositions that were representative of pivotal moments in the fight for equal rights. In total, about 12,000 people attended the concert series.
In Schuylerville, Loren Loiacono teamed up with Capital Repertory Theatre to create Petticoats of Steel, a work that brought the suffrage movement to life.
In Albany, Andre Myers joined the Albany High School Chamber Choir to create Studies in Hope: Frederick Douglass, a hip hop-influenced composition driven by Douglass’s words and relentless pursuit of equality.
In Schenectady, Clarice Assad worked alongside Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region to develop Ain’t I A Woman, a composition inspired by Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech of the same name.
In Hudson, Viet Cuong partnered with choreographer Adam Weinert and the Hudson Dance Collective to craft Transfigured, a work inspired by the Stonewall uprising and the LGBT movement.
Our team at M&T was eager to support the Albany Symphony and sponsor this important series of events. Beyond fulfilling our commitment to expanding access to the arts, Sing Out! New York invited a wide range of voices and artists to be heard by our community, promoting diversity and inclusion.
The event’s economic impact is significant, too. The festival generated an estimated $445,000 in audience spending in the community, and the total impact, when the full scope of the series is factored in, is far greater. Investing in our creative economy contributes to our community’s vibrancy, enhances our quality of life and helps attract visitors and new residents.
Congratulations to the Albany Symphony, its team and all of the artists who worked so hard on the American Music Festival and the Sing Out! New York Tour.
It was a memorable, unique experience that brought people together to celebrate music and created connections that will strengthen our community.
If you’re interested in being a part of next year’s American Music Festival, contact the Albany Symphony to learn how you can get involved.
Ms. Beth Beshaw is the Market President for Albany, NY at M&T Bank. She is active in the community as past chair of Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region and a valued member of the Albany Symphony’s Board of Directors.