Chicago Symphony receives $17 million gift

Chicago Symphony receives $17 million gift


norman lebrecht

June 12, 2014

Santa sometimes come in June. See press release below. UPDATE: And click here to see what followed that.

muti blackhawks

CHICAGO—The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, at its Board of Trustees meeting today, acknowledged the announcement by Helen and Sam Zell that the Zell Family Foundation has made a $17 million contribution to the CSOA’s endowment and general operating funds. This gift provides for the naming, in perpetuity, of the position of Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which has been held by Riccardo Muti since 2010.“Sam and Helen Zell have been longtime friends of the Orchestra, and since 2010 they have become my personal friends as well,” said CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti. “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.”

CSOA Board Chairman Jay Henderson said, “We are so grateful for this visionary and transformative gift to the CSO. The generosity and commitment by Helen, Sam and the Zell Family Foundation are both rare and steadfast, and we have been the fortunate beneficiaries of that generosity time after time. Creating a lasting legacy here by endowing this position is a fitting way for them to show their dedication and support for all that our Music Director does. It seems only appropriate that Maestro Muti be the first named Music Director in CSO history, given the impact he is having on this Orchestra and this city, as well.”

Helen and Sam Zell have a long history of support for the CSO. Helen has served as a CSO Trustee since 2007, and has also been a member of the Board’s Executive Committee since that time. The Zells and the Zell Family Foundation have underwritten and sponsored numerous CSO concerts over the past decade, most recently supporting Music Director Riccardo Muti and the CSO’s concerts together during the first years of his tenure. Under the terms of this new gift, the endowed position will be held by Maestro Muti for the remainder of his tenure, and by all future CSO music directors.


  • sdReader says:

    It’s great that they have done this, but let not Riccardo Muti become the “Sam and Helen Zell Music Director” or anything along those lines. Otherwise it’s just crass egotism on one side and a sell-out on the other.

    True philanthropy is anonymous.

  • Rosana Martins says:

    Wonderful gesture! The CSO is a great orchestra and certainly deserves the gift of keeping Muti for a long time, as well as future music directors.
    I wish it will encourage people in other states and countries to do the same.