Contributions to Fund Are Still Being Received
Highmount: When the magnitude of the August 28 flooding became apparent, the board of directors of the Belleayre Conservatory quickly decided to turn the final show of the Belleayre Music Festival’s 20th anniversary season into a benefit for flood victims. As of midday on Monday, net proceeds from the show plus received contributions totaled more than $32,500 with more donations still arriving to be turned over to the flood relief effort.
Just five days before the concert by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, wheels were quickly put into motion to rearranged the concert into a benefit. Receiving great cooperation from the media (both traditional and social) news of the benefit quickly spread.
As the initial shock of Sunday’s flood began to wane, many people were looking for ways to help the region continue its recovery from this devastating event. The benefit concert would provide a double boost of funding to help local communities begin to rebuild and a “feel good” concert that would provide a perfect tonic during a very stressful period.
By week’s end, news of the benefit show had spread locally and out of the region. Ticket sales became brisk. By Saturday evening, the festival tent was packed and hundreds of additional supporters purchased lawn seats to enjoy the show. In a symbolic gesture that also pleased those without reserved seats, the back of the festival tent was opened for the show, providing a unique vantage point.
And the support of concert-goers did not end with their tickets purchases. Many visitors generously made additional donations to the conservatory’s fund-raising efforts.
Topping off the good vibrations generated by the benefit show was the fact that Saturday evening was unusually mild on the mountaintop. The scene was one of strong emotion as area residents and visitors became one as they gathered to support flood victims from local communities. Prior to the start of the concert Richard Tucker and the Catskill Chorale sang the “National Anthem” and “God Bless America” and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Deputy DEC Commisioner, Mark Gerstman, and Conservatory Chairman Joe Kelly addressed the crowd.
As it turned out, the headlining act turned out to a perfect fit of the occasion. Bela Fleck’s infectious, genre-busting sound had the crowd rocking and numerous crowd members remarked that it was the best concert they had ever seen.
Mel Litoff, artistic director and producer of the Belleayre Music Festival, concurred that it was truly a magical evening of community support and great music.
“It was the most amazing night in the 20-year history of the festival,” he stated.
Anyone wishing to make additional donations should send them to the Belleayre Conservatory (memo Flood Relief Fund) at P.O. Box 198 Highmount NY 12441. Checks, Master Card and Visa are accepted. For additional information, please call 845 254-5600, ext. 1344.