All Are Welcome

8am to 9pm Daily


Directions | Grocery Delivery | Kitchen Delivery

Coop Scoop Blog

Be the Change (September 2023): Vanguard

By Natalie Criscione

You have probably heard of the Albany Symphony Orchestra (ASO) conducted by David Alan Miller, and perhaps you’ve seen a performance on stage. (If you haven’t, you should!) The Grammy Award winning orchestra is a cultural icon of classical and contemporary music in the Capital District and welcomes performers and composers from throughout the world. Audiences see incredible concerts that they remember for weeks or years to come, as they find themselves humming Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, or a world-premiered piece by a contemporary composer.  Children recall memories of conductor “Cowboy Dave” at the Palace Theater, who introduced them to classical pieces, showed them how music tells stories, and ignited their interest in being part of an orchestra. 

There is so much to see and hear at a concert that one easily forgets what might be happening backstage, on the other side of the lights and curtains, in the back of the house, and within the daily operations. Behind the scenes of the ASO is another kind of choreography and performance, and different kinds of stories. Aside from the small, brilliant staff, there are dozens of dedicated volunteers whose mission it is to “promote and sustain exceptional classical music through performances and educational outreach in the greater Capital District.”

Vanguard-ASO, originally established in 1963 for the purpose of raising money to build an acoustical shell to enhance audience experience, has grown to become the fundraising and support group for the ASO. Volunteers help to coordinate and provide concert ushers, lodging and transportation for visiting artists, assistance with office work (stuffing envelopes, for example!), aid for children’s programming events, and even refreshments for certain occasions. Prior to events, Vanguard-ASO hosts concert previews to introduce subscribers to guest conductors, performers, and composers. Opportunities abound for such enrichment and new volunteers are always welcome. 

Fundraising includes such events as Jazz Brunches and Shrimp Boils at June Farms, a Victorian Tea and Fashion Show, as well as trips to the Culinary Institute of America, the Sagamore, and Indian Ladder Farms. With each event are opportunities to connect with others, make new friends, and share a passion for supporting the strong tradition of orchestral music in the Capital District.

Vanguard-ASO is also involved in community outreach and music education. One of their ongoing initiatives is to collect and distribute gently-used instruments to area schools that may otherwise not have a sufficient supply for the number of students who are interested in music. By placing instruments into the hands of students, opportunities are realized and connections made. Suddenly those professional musicians on stage represent possibilities and goals for young people.

During the month of September at Honest Weight, when you say “yes” to the question “Would you like to round up to the nearest dollar?” consider yourself part of a growing crescendo that hums along with the broader symphony. To join Vanguard-ASO and help support the Albany Symphony Orchestra, visit their website at And, while you’re surfing, check out the ASO website as well:

« Back to Coop Scoop Blog