ITHACA, N.Y. — Tatiana Sy looked down at her phone shortly after news broke yesterday that Talib Kweli would be performing on the refurbished Ithaca Commons on Sept. 3.


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Bus To Nature: Route 22

“It was just an explosion of shock and excitement,” she said in an interview on Thursday.

Sy, who recently became the director of special events at the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, was in charge of booking an act for the concert. She is also an Ithaca College alum, and said colleagues and former IC classmates were texting her, excited that she’d managed to bring a hip hop legend to Ithaca.

Kweli, who has been called “hip-hop’s outspoken conscience” by Time Magazine, will perform on the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Commons. The DIA expects a large crowd.

“We’re attempting to offer something special to downtown and the entire Ithaca community to bring energy to the new Commons,” said Sy. “This is just a small piece of a bigger vision.”

Sy previously worked as the director of talent and production for the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, where she established a relationship with Talib Kweli’s entourage after he performed in 2014. She said that Brooklyn’s festival is one of the most accessible in the country, and that she wanted a similar vibe at Ithaca’s concerts.

Lee Conlon, who is the manager of Angry Mom Records, hopes the concert brings business to the Commons, saying he supports “anything that brings people downtown after the somewhat fiasco of the Commons rebuilding process, not just for us as a music store, but all of the music businesses downtown.”

Conlon said he’s happy that Ithaca was able to attract someone who is “of international renowned” in addition to the local artists performing throughout the summer in front of the State Theatre.

The DIA is working to figure out how to accommodate the large number of people it expects to attend, especially given that this concert is on the Commons itself. Sy said she had already been doing sound tests and mapping out possible layouts for the concert.

“I’ll be the one running all over the place” on the day of the concert, she said.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs is an intern with the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at