The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall opens its doors to something new this week with the start of The Lift Concert Series, the brainchild of two Troy-based musicians Sophia Subbayya Vastek and Sam Torres. Celebrated cellist and Saratoga resident Ashley Bathgate kicks off the series on Wednesday, Jan. 29. t

Designed to showcase a variety of musicians with local connections in an intimate setting, the series will usher attendees through the music hall’s Franklin Alley entrance, to its massive lift and up onstage to sit within a breath of the performers.

Vastek, a pianist and concert producer, and Torres, a composer, audio engineer and saxophonist, met at the Manhattan School of Music and relocated to Troy in 2018 after various projects brought them through town. 

“What we’re trying to do is have different groups who would be great to have in the hall without having to feel the pressure of having to sell 1,000 seats while potentially bringing in some people who aren’t regulars–and perhaps giving regulars a different perspective,” says Torres. 

With a relatively early start time of 6 PM and an accessible ticket price $15, the couple hopes concertgoers will start their night in Troy at the music hall and then stick around. 

“If you bring your ticket to Plum Oyster Bar you get a complimentary glass of prosecco. So there is a motivation for people to come out and get their ticket but it also benefits Plum on what is generally a slow evening and encourages people to get out and ‘Enjoy Troy’™,” Torres laughs. 

“We really want people to leave and go out after,” stresses Vastek. 

Taina Asili, booked to perform as part of the series on Feb. 19, says the format of the series is an inspiration to her and sees how it could also serve to inspire attendees to think about music in a different way. 

“I love the hall as a venue, it is stunning and I’ve seen incredible performances over the years. As an artist, I’m excited to have the opportunity to play it. I believe many local venues are recognizing how the region is shifting and growing, recognizing that audiences want more diversity. They want the arts in the region to reflect the community.” 

Asili says she found inspiration while at SPAC’s On Stage series. She explains that being on stage during performances by Red Barrat and MUICA allowed her to process their performances in a different way than she would have had she been feet away. 

“I love playing big stages with a full band but that setup at SPAC allowed me to see these intimate performances. To study the percussionist and his movements to witness the details. So I look forward to sharing my voice with the audience, to perform where I’m not belting so they can hear my musical flourishes and hear my voice more clearly.”

Asili’s set will reflect more intimate songs off of her recent recordings. “These are intimate, passionate songs that are dear to my heart about issues that are dear to my heart,” she says. 

Vastek and Torres will also be performing as part of the series, March 4, as their ensemble Organ Colossal. 

“We’re bringing a group of local performers to play music by local songwriters and composers. As a classical minded person, I play music by other people all the time, but I don’t often see the composers showcased in the area–and there are some really talented composers, and obviously songwriters,  in the area–we wanted to bring it all together,” says Vastek.  

Bridging the gap between scenes is at the heart of The Lift series and the couple’s larger mission. “Creating spaces where people feel comfortable and platforms that bring artists together is what we want to do… and just seeing what happens ” says Vastek. 

Tickets for each show are $15 or $50 for tickets to each show in the serie. Ashley Bathgate’s performance has sold out all stage seating, but regular seating is available. 

Ashley Bathgate, January 29

Taina Asili, February 19 

Organ Colossal, March 4

The Westerlies, April 29