For an organization providing end-of-life care, there’s certainly a lot of new life in Austin nonprofit Swan Songs this year. The organization announced a new executive director, Shannon Moody, on July 21, and released tickets for the 2022 benefit concert, Swan Songs Serenade. The concert, cocktail reception, auction, and dinner (starting at $200 per person) will be held October 23 at Four Seasons Hotel Austin, for its first return to in-person performance since the onset of the pandemic.
It’s a multifaceted effort from some of Austin’s top creative contributors: Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma producer Adrian Quesada and his wife, multitalented community leader Celeste Quesada, act as chairs, while KUTX radio host Laurie Gallardo and former KVUE journalist Judy Maggio share emcee duties. Genre-hopping, seven-time Austin Music Awards Musician of the Year Bob Schneider is the featured performer, both for this event and in individual Swan Songs requests.
Finally, Moody is starting her tenure by helping Swan Songs founder and CEO Christine Albert plan the event, ultimately making room for Albert’s other project: making Swan Songs’ programs available outside of Austin.
The main program in question is Swan Songs’ “Musical Last Wishes” offering, which organizes a private concert for Austinites of any age, in a critical stage of a terminal illness. Friends, family, and caregivers may join to enjoy the intimate performance in the recipient’s favorite style of music — or even a specific favorite musician — often resurfacing old memories and shared cultural experiences.
"I know everybody believes in the power of music, without sounding too sappy, but it's why we're all here at the end of the day — because we believe in what the mission of Swan Songs is and the power of what music can do, all the way through life, up until these final stages,” said Adrian Quesada in a press release. “I truly appreciate the commitment to this event and this mission."
Moody has experience supporting programs as they move into new communities, and was instrumental in bringing single mothers’ nonprofit the Jeremiah Program to Austin from Minneapolis. And Albert has experience scaling her own organization — after all, it was her voice that was requested in the early '90s by a dying fan, sparking the idea for Swan Songs. Since its official start in 2005, the organization has given more than 1,400 concerts that financially support musicians, without burdening the fans who request them.
“After two years of virtual Swan Songs Serenades, it is a joy to be planning this in-person event, especially alongside our new Executive Director, Shannon Moody,” said Albert in the release. “Shannon brings a depth of nonprofit leadership experience that will ensure Swan Songs continues to thrive. … We are fortunate to have her passion, community relationships, and strategic leadership.”
Swan Songs Serenade will be held October 23 at Four Seasons Austin. More information about the organization and tickets are available at swansongs.org.