Texas music troubadour Robert Earl Keen will be the featured performer at the 10th annual Swan Songs Serenade, a fundraiser for the Austin nonprofit that provides free musical experiences for terminally ill individuals. The gala is scheduled for Oct. 25 at the Four Seasons Hotel, though founder and CEO Christine Albert acknowledged Thursday that the organization is prepared to present the event “virtually if we have to.”
Tickets, $150 per person, will go on sale Aug. 1. Sponsorship opportunities also are available. If the event happens at the Four Seasons as planned, it will include live and silent auctions, a VIP sponsor reception and a seated dinner in addition to Keen’s performance.
Asked whether the coronavirus pandemic might force changes in plans for the gala, Albert replied that “we definitely understand it’s a very real possibility.”
Albert added that the pandemic already has temporarily altered the nonprofit’s mission. With in-person concerts not possible at present, Swan Songs has recruited Austin musicians to prepare video concerts in a variety of musical styles that can be accessed whenever desired.
The organization also has broadened the scope of service beyond end-of-life patients to include those in isolation because of illness, Albert said. The virtual concerts also are being made available to caregivers. “It’s just about bringing comfort to everyone, including the staff” at health care facilities, she said.
Albert noted that Swan Songs board members discussed whether to announce the fall gala and ultimately decided that “we can’t live in fear. We’re all finding out that you just deal with whatever is happening and pivot.” She says the board has discussed contingency plans but hasn’t made any decisions toward that end yet.
“In the meantime, we’re continuing to operate as best we can,” Albert said. “Music is needed more than ever, and the musicians need to work more than ever.”