Second massive gift for Chicago Symphony – that’s $32 million in a day

Within hours of receiving $17 million to support the work of music director Riccardo Muti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has announced a second gift of $15 million to provide young people’s concerts and training programs.

The donation, by the Negaunee Foundation, is one of the largest it has ever given. To quote the press release: It supports a long-term goal of Riccardo Muti, Music Director of the CSO: 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. “Performances alone are not enough,” Maestro Muti 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.”

This is an astonishing way for Deborah Rutter to round off her presidency of the orchestra before heading off to Washington to revive the Kennedy Center. It is also a tribute to the magnetism of Riccardo Muti, who has demonstrated his ability to excite philanthropists almost as much as he energises musicians. Happy days in the Windy City. Press release follows.

 

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CHICAGO—The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) Board of Trustees announced today that the Chicago-based Negaunee Foundation has made a $15 million gift to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). One of the largest commitments in the institution’s 123-year history, it provides both annual operating support and endowment funds to support, in perpetuity, 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 mission of the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO is to create and sustain connections to music for individuals and communities by sharing the extraordinary musical resources of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Through its educational, family and community programs, the Institute engages more than 200,000 children, teens and adults of diverse incomes and backgrounds each year.

Institute programs include concerts for children, families and school groups, such as Once Upon a Symphony and Family Matinees; curricula and programs for teachers and students such as Orchestra Explorers and Dream Out Loud; 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 and which celebrates its 95th anniversary this season; and low-cost and free rehearsals and performances, often led by Music Director Riccardo Muti. The Institute’s programs are an important expression of the CSO’s commitment to Citizen Musicianship – using the power of music to contribute to our culture, our communities, and the lives of others.

The $15 million gift from the Negaunee Foundation supports a long-term goal of Riccardo Muti, Music Director of the CSO: 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. “Performances alone are not enough,” Maestro Muti 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.”  

Said CSOA President Deborah Rutter, “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. The Foundation’s generosity will also allow the Institute to become ever more responsive to community needs while sustaining the Institute’s longstanding community, education, family and training programs, including the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. We could not be more grateful to Negaunee.”

The Negaunee Foundation was created in 1987 to celebrate the arts and education in greater Chicagoland. It has a long history of support for the CSO and the Institute’s programs, having been a major donor to the CSO since the early 1990’s. Negaunee has been one of the largest annual supporters of the Institute in recent years. The Institute was founded in 2008 to integrate, highlight and expand the CSO’s longstanding and wide-ranging education and engagement programs. Since its founding, the Institute has been led by CSOA Vice President Charles Grode with the guidance of the Institute Board.

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  • This is admittedly off-topic, but I want to hear a GREAT reading of the score of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly — which no one has conducted brilliantly since Karajan 40 years (!) ago — and I can think of no better forces for this than the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti.

    The work must be played sumptuously and accurately, with keen attention to symphonic structure — exactly the qualities CSO/Muti would bring in concert format.

    Neither the orchestra nor Muti has ever performed this music, and the maestro is stubborn about confining his Puccini to Tosca and Manon Lescaut, just performed ravishingly in Rome. Yet no other forces in the world could do a better job. Will some big donor please twist some arms?

    • Riccardo Muti probably knows best what repertoire he wants to conduct or not conduct, and for what reasons. Maybe you should write to him though and tell him that you know better, just like you know better than Grimaud how to play Mozart and better than Gergiev how to conduct Shostakovich. Maybe you could open some kind of consultant business in which you coach musicians like the above how and what to play and conduct. I imagine you could make a lot of money there…

    • Among other things, that arts funding is concentrated where the wealthy live while the rest of the country is culturally impoverished.

  • Fiddle, no. A great reading of the vast score would bring any conducting name to prominence, and I believe I’m acquainted with the work of all the contenders, as you may be yourself.

    So, no one since Karajan, and that’s sad, considering the quality of the score.

    For comparison, look at the attention given to Mahler’s 3rd Symphony, about the same length as Puccini’s Act II / Act III.

  • Ah yes, and Sinopoli had no command of counterpoint…well unfortunately he is dead, so he won’t be able to take lessons in counterpoint from you.

  • The Minnesota Orchestra did pretty well today, too. Scored over 13 million in gifts, and removed Michael Henson from the masthead.

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