A second orchestra posts record gift

A second orchestra posts record gift


norman lebrecht

September 30, 2021

A couple of hours after the Cleveland Orchestra received a record $50 million donation, guess what happens at the Phoenix Symphony.

Its music director Tito Munoz reports:

Last week, my CEO Suzanne Wilson and Board Chair Molly DeFilippis were asked to come to the offices of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust for what they thought was a routine meeting. The Piper Trust has been an incredibly generous steadfast supporter of The Phoenix Symphony over the years, and my position bears the name “Virginia G. Piper Music Director” in recognition of that.
Little did Molly and Suzanne know that they were about to be given the largest one-time gift ever made to our orchestra… $7.5 million… which was a part of one of the most unprecedented charitable giving events in Arizona history. On that day, the Piper Trust gave surprise gifts totaling $123 million to 71 organizations. Of them, ours was the largest.
To say we are grateful is insufficient. This is a transformational gift, and it shows the confidence our community has in the monumental work our team has done over the last incredibly difficult 18 months. I’m proud of our organization. I’m so excited for the coming season, and I look forward to our first service back together, less than two weeks from now, where we will be able to once again make the best music together.
This season will mark The Phoenix Symphony’s 75th anniversary. What a way to ring it in. 

Here’s the press release.


  • J Barcelo says:

    Bravo! Great news for Phoenix. They have such potential but like many other smaller orchestras are having to do too many pops concerts – and it shows in the playing. Maybe this will help them get back to doing more classical concerts.

    • Ron T says:

      i don’t know about your opinion of pops concerts, but “sound of speed” was one of the finest pops “shows” AZ ever saw.

  • Violinophile says:

    Being Phoenix, unfortunately most of that money will simply be used to upgrade the air conditioning and clean up after the giant sandstorms. Seriously, this is wonderful news. What a shame that orchestras in America get so little public support to survive without such rare gifts.

  • Anonymous says:

    I hear the gift came in hours after the board ratified the new contract cutting the season by 8 weeks. The timing seems odd to cut musicians weeks then all of a sudden receive this awesome amount of money. Shame their musicians were also
    Furloughed for an entire season. I’ll be curious to hear if any of that money is used to repair the musicians lost wages or lost weeks of work.

    • Farmer Joe says:

      The board AND musicians both would have had to ratify the contract.

      But to think that the timing of this gift (apparently only about 5% of all of the gifts given by this foundation on this day) has anything to do with the minutiae of the musicians contract is a bit preposterous. And if this idea is coming from a musician, then it shows deep ignorance and entitlement.

      If the symphony leaders have any sense, they will smartly invest this money, and not use it for “quick fixes.” It’s the latter mindset that usually keeps organizations in trouble.