The Zell Family Foundation Makes $17 Million Contribution to The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association

The Zell Family Foundation Makes $17 Million Contribution to The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, at its Board of Trustees meeting today, acknowledged the announcement by Helen and Sam Zell that the Zell Family Foundation has made a $17 million contribution to the CSOA's endowment and general operating funds. This gift provides for the naming, in perpetuity, of the position of Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which has been held by Riccardo Muti since 2010.

"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."

CSOA Board Chairman Jay Henderson said, "We are so grateful for this visionary and transformative gift to the CSO. The generosity and commitment by Helen, Sam and the Zell Family Foundation are both rare and steadfast, and we have been the fortunate beneficiaries of that generosity time after time. Creating a lasting legacy here by endowing this position is a fitting way for them to show their dedication and support for all that our Music Director does. It seems only appropriate that Maestro Muti be the first named Music Director in CSO history, given the impact he is having on this Orchestra and this city, as well."

Helen and Sam Zell have a long history of support for the CSO. Helen has served as a CSO Trustee since 2007, and has also been a member of the Board's Executive Committee since that time. The Zells and the Zell Family Foundation have underwritten and sponsored numerous CSO concerts over the past decade, most recently supporting Music Director Riccardo Muti and the CSO's concerts together during the first years of his tenure. Under the terms of this new gift, the endowed position will be held by Maestro Muti for the remainder of his tenure, and by all future CSO music directors.

CSOA President Deborah Rutter said, "There are very few people who can make the kind of impact that Helen and Sam Zell have made on the CSO. A gift such as this is extraordinary, and we extend our heartfelt thanks to the Zells and the Zell Family Foundation for their generosity, their commitment and their ongoing belief in the music-making that takes place here at Symphony Center. The support of our Music Director is unprecedented for the CSO and we are deeply touched by the Zells in their commitment to Riccardo Muti, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and their standards of excellence. It has been my distinct honor and pleasure to know Sam and Helen and to work closely with Helen as a friend and trusted advisor."

Maestro Muti began as Music Director in 2010. He recently renewed his five-year contract for an additional five years, through the 2019/20 season.

In addition to Helen and Sam Zell announcing this transformative gift today, the CSOA announced a gift of $15 million from the Negaunee Foundation to support the Institute for Learning, Access and Training under a new name, the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. These two commitments are among the largest in the CSO's history.

About the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Its music director since 2010 is Riccardo Muti, one of the preeminent conductors of our day. Pierre Boulez is the CSO's Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus; Yo-Yo Ma is the CSO's Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant. Mason Bates and Anna Clyne are the CSO's Mead Composers-in-Residence.