Seattle Symphony, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Ciara and Russell Wilson Raise Nearly $1.4 Million For Youth, Equity and Access

Pictured from left to right: Macklemore, Ciara, Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Pablo Rus Broseta, Russell Wilson and Ryan Lewis. (Photo by Jean Marcus)

The artists joined together for a sold-out benefit concert at Benaroya Hall hosted by Russell Wilson, raising nearly $1.4 million for programs supporting youth, equity and access to the arts.

The Seattle Symphony, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Russell Wilson and Ciara came together for an inspirational, one-night-only concert at Benaroya Hall on Thursday, May 10, 2018, raising nearly $1.4 million in support of initiatives of the Why Not You Foundation, the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Equity Fund and the Seattle Symphony.

Seattle Symphony Board Chair Leslie Jackson Chihuly and Larry Estrada, Board member of the Seattle Symphony and the Why Not You Foundation, welcomed the audience to the concert and explained the cause that united the three organizations.

“Equity means that everyone is on an equal playing field — it’s seeing who’s trying to get in the room but can’t,” said Estrada. “Equity cannot be achieved without access and all three groups tonight are doing very important work to ensure the youth in our community have transformative opportunities.”

Chihuly added, “At the core of the Seattle Symphony is our mission — one that is universal: to unleash the power of music, bring people together, and lift the human spirit. We all believe that music has the power to transform lives and we’re so thrilled that tonight’s concert brought us together for a night of incredible music while raising funds to empower our youth.”

Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson hosted the evening and introduced performances by current and past participants from each organization’s respective programs.

Tah-jae, a sophomore at Franklin High School and mentee of Friends of the Children, performed a spoken word piece titled after Russell and Ciara’s foundation, “Why Not You.” The Why Not You Foundation partners with organizations to inspire and empower children so they reach their highest potential.

“We are so proud of our work in the community through the Why Not You Foundation and are always looking for ways to collaborate with innovative partners such as the Seattle Symphony and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to have a greater impact,” said Russell Wilson.

Ciara added, “We are grateful for our community’s support and excited that the funds raised tonight will directly benefit the lives of kids in our community.”

Third through 5th grade Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School students who have participated in the Seattle Symphony’s Link Up program joined the orchestra on stage as the audience sang along to Beethoven’s famous Ode to Joy from his Symphony No. 9. Link Up is a multi-year curriculum that encourages young students to fully participate in the music-making process. Taught by classroom teachers, music teachers or Seattle Symphony teaching artists, Link Up culminates in a performance at Benaroya Hall where students sing and play along with the orchestra.

Glasshouse, aspiring teen hip-hop artists from The Residency, performed original songs on the program. The Residency is a program founded by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis that provides teens with tools they need to strengthen songwriting, performance techniques and beat production.

"I was fortunate growing up to have access to equipment and opportunities that helped me find my passion in music,” said Ryan Lewis. “We wanted to do whatever we can to help give young people great opportunities, so they can discover their passions.”

After intermission, students from the Garfield High School Orchestra joined the Seattle Symphony side-by-side on stage, performing “Same Love” and “Otherside” with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, with special appearances by Mary Lambert and Eric Nally.

“As our city grows and changes, it's so important for us to be supporting and investing in young people,” said Macklemore. “If we want this generation and the next generation to be healthy, fulfilled and to make progress, then we need to give young people the space and platform to express themselves.”

As all the artists joined in for the finale — “Can’t Hold Us” — Russell Wilson took the baton, conducting the orchestra for a few moments before handing off to Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Pablo Rus Broseta.

Wilson told the audience, “As my father always challenged me to ask, why not you? We all have an opportunity to contribute and make a difference.”

This special musical evening was presented by Alaska Airlines, with additional sponsors including T-Mobile, Aegis Living, Safeway, Expedia, Larry & Brittni Estrada, Goldman Sachs, Linda Rae Hickey & Mark Grant, Jeffrey & Grace Roh, Intuitivex and Wheels Up.

Posted on May 11, 2018