Chicago Symphony Orchestra Receives a Record $32M in Gifts from Two Charitable Foundations

By Louise Burton on Jun 14, 2014 12:57 AM EDT

CORRECTION: Classicalite wishes to clarify a point about the Zell Family Foundation gift to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The terms of the Zell Foundation gift provide for the endowment and naming, in perpetuity, of the position of Music Director of the CSO. The gift does not set the terms for who will hold the position, which is implied in paragraph 3 below. Classicalite regrets the error.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra recently announced that it has received the largest philanthropic gifts in its history--$17 million from the Zell Family Foundation and $15 million from the Negaunee Foundation.

The Zell Foundation gift provides for the naming of the position of Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which has been held by Riccardo Muti since 2010. Maestro Muti recently renewed his five-year contract for an additional five years, through the 2019-20 season.

Under the terms of the Zell Foundation gift, the endowed position will be held by Maestro Muti for the remainder of his tenure, and by all future CSO music directors. This is the first time in the CSO's history that the position of music director has been endowed.

"Sam and Helen Zell have been longtime friends of the Orchestra, and since 2010 they have become my personal friends as well," Maestro Muti said in a statement released by the orchestra. "I am honored by this demonstration of great affection for the CSO through this generous gift. Endowing the position of the Music Director is a remarkable gesture of ongoing support of the Orchestra now and into the future."

The $15 million Negaunee Foundation gift provides both annual operating support and endowment funds to support the work of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Institute for Learning, Access and Training, which will be known from now on as the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The newly-renamed Negaunee Music Institute presents educational, family and community programs, which reach more than 200,000 children, teens and adults of diverse incomes and backgrounds each year.

Institute programs include concerts such as "Once Upon a Symphony" and Family Matinees; curricula and programs for teachers and students such as Orchestra Explorers and Dream Out Loud; and also the Civic Orchestra of Chicago--the only pre-professional training ensemble affiliated with a major American orchestra--which offers frequent, free performances at Symphony Center and across Chicago. The Institute also supports low-cost and free rehearsals and performances, often led by Maestro Muti.

The $15 million gift from the Negaunee Foundation supports one of Muti's long-term goals: to share classical music with more people--especially those who might not otherwise have access to it--and to strengthen the relationship of the CSO with communities in the Chicago area.

"Performances alone are not enough," Muti has said. "Having a treasure like this Orchestra, we have a responsibility to make it accessible to as many people as possible. This gift will ensure that the talents of the CSO will be shared throughout Chicago and around the world." 

CSO President Deborah Rutter said in a statement, "This commitment to the work of the Institute is truly remarkable. By endowing the work of the Institute in perpetuity, the Negaunee Foundation will significantly increase the CSO's ability to use the power of music to transform and enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands in Greater Chicago and across the globe."

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TagsChicago Symphony Orchestra, Riccardo Muti, Deborah Rutter, Zell Family Foundation, Negaunee Foundation, Negaunee Music Institute

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