The gifts include $17 million from the Zell Family Foundation for general operating support and to endow the position of music director. Sam Zell and his wife, Helen, who has served as a CSO trustee since 2007, have underwritten and sponsored numerous CSO concerts over the past decade.
"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."
The $15 million gift from the Negaunee Foundation will provide endowment and annual operating support for CSO's Institute for Learning, Access and Training, which will be renamed the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The institute's programming includes concerts for children, families, and school groups; programs for teachers and students; free performances by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, which claims to be the only pre-professional training ensemble affiliated with a major American orchestra; and low-cost and free CSO rehearsals and performances. The gift also supports Muti's long-term goals of sharing classical music with those who might not otherwise have access to it and strengthening CSO's relationship with local communities.
"Performances alone are not enough," said Muti. "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."