Article by Lewis Lazare Reporter - Chicago Business Journal | June 12, 2014, 1:00pm CDT
The Zell Family Foundation has made a $17 million gift for the naming of the position of Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director, now held by Riccardo Muti.
photo by Todd Rosenberg
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra today said it received two contributions totaling $32 million. The two gifts are the largest in the 123-year history of what is considered one of the world's greatest orchestras.
Helen and Sam Zell, who head the Chicago-based Zell Family Foundation, have made a $17 million contribution to the Symphony's endowment and general operating funds. Among other things, monies from the gift will be used to name, in perpetuity, the position of Music Director at the Symphony, which has been held by Riccardo Muti since 2010. Muti recently renewed his contract for five years through the 2019-20 season.
Sam Zell is the well-known Chicago real estate mogul and businessman who owned the Tribune Co. for a turbulent period of time that included a plunge into bankruptcy. His wife Helen Zell has been a member of the CSO's Board of Trustees since 2007.
A second gift of $15 million is being made by the Chicago-based Negaunee Foundation to support the work of the Chicago Symphony's Institute for Learning, Access and Training, which will be known going forward as the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony.
The Institute was established as the education and community outreach arm of the CSO. The Institute typically engages with some 200,000 children, teens and adults of diverse incomes every year. Founded in 1987, the Negaunee Foundation has made gifts to the CSO in the past, but today's gift is the largest.
CSO get record-setting pair of gifts totaling $32 million
By Hailey Lee | June 12, 2014
Today was Ms. Rutter's last board meeting before she steps down at the end of the month to head the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. She said she is proud to leave behind a secure financial legacy.
“When you pour your heart and soul into an organization, you want it to remain in a great position when you move on,” Ms. Rutter said. “These gifts help me feel that greatness and relief to see how well the institution will do.”
The two gifts are the equivalent of 43 percent of the orchestra's annual budget of $75 million. They represent an 11 percent increase to the orchestra's endowment, now $315 million including the gifts.