Troy Music Hall and WEXT Announce the UpLift Commissioned Music Series

The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and WEXT are excited to announce a new online event, the UpLift Commissioned Music Series. The Hall worked with Sophia Subbayya Vastek and Sam Torres, of Organ Colossal, to commission local artists to participate. Vastek and Torres originally curated the Hall’s Lift series, a successful program that invited a small audience to sit on the Music Hall stage with the artists as they performed. This series was interrupted by the pandemic.

The UpLift Commissioned Series is a reinterpretation of the Lift Series, a way to safely continue to bring new and talented musicians to an audience now at home. It features one new song from each artist, commissioned by the Music Hall. These new works reflect the emotions and experiences of the musicians during the last year. Each performer has filmed a video of their song, performed onstage at the Hall, which will be premiered on YouTube and Facebook. Each video premiere will be followed with an online discussion with the artist where the audience will be able to ask questions and interact with one another. 

“As the pandemic crisis unfolded last spring, we began to think creatively about how we could continue our mission of bringing music to our community in this new environment.” says Jon Elbaum, Executive Director of the Music Hall. “How do you celebrate and promote social inclusion when we all have to practice social isolation? We asked Sophia and Sam to reach out to our strong local music community to create this series. The results are, just like the artists, unique, thoughtful, and a joy to hear.”

“The pandemic has been devastating to musical communities everywhere.” Says Sophia Vastek, “As we set out to curate this series, we wanted to uplift, celebrate, and support the marvelous talent that we have right here in the Capital Region.  Each of these artists have contributed so much to our community over the years, and the works that they’ve created for this project speak powerfully to this specific time and place that we’re in.  The works and performances are joyful, deeply honest, and a microcosm of a larger musical community that has been transformed in more ways than one over the past year.”

This series is free and open to the public, no ticket required. Links to view the videos and links to the after premiere discussion will be made available closer to the performances.

The complete series:

Belle Skinner, Friday, April 23, 2021, 7 PM
Veena Chandra and Devesh Chandra, Friday, May 7, 2021, 7 PM
Taína Asili & Gaetano Vaccaro, Friday, May 21, 2021, 7 PM

Belle Skinner

Friday, April 23, 2021, 7 PM

Belle-Skinner is a dark nostalgic singer-songwriter based in upstate New York and Brooklyn. With a hauntingly beautiful, lilting soprano and innate sense of melody she crafts tales of songbirds, sirens, and desert nomads – nuanced and layered stories that bridge the gap between past and present. Though her influences cover a broad range of genres – from French chansons and Russian folk to contemporary alt-pop and rock – her voice often draws comparisons to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley, Angel Olsen, and early St. Vincent.

Veena Chandra and Devesh Chandra

Friday, May 7, 2021, 7 PM

Sitarist Veena Chandrais an internationally renowned musician, composer, and choreographer. Known for her skill and sensitivity as a performer, Chandra has been praised for her ability to communicate the beauty and complexity of North Indian classical music to the western listener. She is the founder and director of the Dance and Music School of India in Latham, NY where she teaches Indian classical music. She has been a faculty member at Skidmore College since 1990, teaching sitar in the Music Department. She is also the Artist Associate in Sitar at Williams College. 

Devesh Chandra has been learning the Tabla since the age of 3. He has learned Northern Indian Classical Music by accompanying his mother, Veena Chandra. Devesh is a sought-after tabla player and educator. In addition to tabla solos and playing with Indian Classical Music, he has collaborated and worked with musicians across a broad range of musical genres from Western Folk and Western Classical to Flamenco and Jazz as well as Latin Music and Japanese Taiko. 

Taína Asili & Gaetano Vaccaro

Friday, May 21, 2021, 7 PM

Taína Asili performed in the Hall’s original Lift Concert Series, and the Hall was thrilled to invite her back to participate in UpLift. She is a New York-based Puerto Rican singer, filmmaker and activist carrying on the tradition of her ancestors, fusing past and present struggles into one soulful and defiant voice. Her music combines powerful vocals carrying themes of hope and liberation with an energetic fusion of Afro-Latin, reggae and rock. Asili’s music offers a sound that spans continents, exuding strength of Spirit, inspiring audiences at venues across the globe – From Carnegie Hall to the Women’s March on Washington to the main stage of San Francisco Pride.

Gaetano Vaccaro is first generation Sicilian, raised in Albany, NY. Influenced by the Sicilian guitar playing of his father and grandfather, Gaetano began studying various musical instruments in his early childhood. One might now be challenged to find an instrument he cannot play, well versed in guitar, bass, drums, saxophone, clarinet, flute, keyboards, and cello. Gaetano is skilled in numerous genres from rock to jazz to flamenco. He has studied under well-known jazz guitarists John Hilton and Pat Martino, and flamenco guitarist Miguel Angel Cortez. In addition to his duet work Taína Asili and his work with la Banda Rebelde, Gaetano performed across the country numerous times and put out two albums with hip hop/rock band Broadcast Live.

Since 2009, he has been an arts instructor to youth in music, film and new media with the award-winning program YouthFX. Gaetano is committed to making meaningful contributions to community through his work, and has been supporting non-profit organizations, small businesses and artists with music, media and design for over a decade.

Please visit the Hall’s website for more info. If you have any questions, please call the Box Office at 518-273-0038 between 10 and three on Mondays. If you are unable to speak to a member of the Box Office staff directly, please leave a message. A member of our Box Office staff will get back to you as soon as they can.  More information on the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall is available on the website at

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