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$21 million gift to symphony orchestra from low profile philanthropist Colburn family
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$21 million gift to symphony orchestra from low profile philanthropist Colburn family

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) Board of Trustees announced that the locally based Negaunee Foundation of the Colburn family has made a $21 million gift to the CSOA.

Representing one of the largest commitments in the CSOA’s history, the gift builds on a multi-decade history of giving by The Negaunee Foundation that is focused on education and community programs and strengthens the organization’s endowment fund to ensure long-term financial stability for the many programs of the CSOA: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Negaunee Music Institute and Symphony Center Presents. The new gift also includes operating funds for concert sponsorships and special artistic projects in the current and upcoming seasons.

“The impact of The Negaunee Foundation’s transformational gift ensures that young musicians and communities in Chicago, around the country and across the world will remain connected to the extraordinary musical and educational resources of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” said CSOA President Jeff Alexander. “The CSOA expresses its sincere gratitude to The Negaunee Foundation for this exceptional generosity and vision that will sustain our inspiring and effective programs well into the future.”

CSOA Board Chair Mary Louise Gorno added, “The Negaunee Foundation demonstrates tremendous civic leadership with this support. Chicago greatly benefits from donors like The Negaunee Foundation, who recognize the power of the arts to improve lives and connect us in meaningful ways. We celebrate their ongoing commitment to this important work.”

Since the 1990s, The Negaunee Foundation has provided the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with leadership gifts for education and community programs and overall operating support for CSO concerts and other programs. In 2014, the foundation made a $15 million gift to endow the CSO’s formerly named Institute for Learning, Access and Training, which was renamed the Negaunee Music Institute at that time. Since then, the foundation has regularly provided leadership support for the CSOA, including a $10 million gift in 2022 to grow the endowment fund and sponsor CSO concert programs with a wide variety of distinguished artists.

The Negaunee Music Institute connects people to the extraordinary musical resources of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by educating audiences, training young musicians and serving diverse communities across Chicago and around the world. Signature programs of the Negaunee Music Institute include CSO for Kids concerts and school partnerships that annually engage over 25,000 children pre-K through grade 12, especially within Chicago Public Schools; the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and its innovative fellowship program; various other musician training programs such as the Chicago Youth in Music Festival; the Young Composers Initiative, introduced by CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery in 2022; the CSO Percussion Scholarship Program; Notes for Peace, a social impact initiative that supports parents who have lost children to gun violence; education and community engagement activities on CSO tours, and several other industry-leading programs that build future audiences and musicians.

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