Houston Grand Opera Receives $1 Million Endowment Gift
Houston Grand Opera announced a gift in the amount of $1 million from Dr. Ernest C. and Sarah Butler of Austin, Texas. The gift will endow The Sarah and Ernest Butler Concertmaster Chair of the HGO Orchestra. Longtime season subscribers to HGO, the Butlers have been extremely generous patrons of the arts and education, primarily in their hometown of Austin. "Sarah and I have seen outstanding opera in Houston for almost thirty years and are very happy to contribute to the musical excellence of Houston Grand Opera. The company has garnered international acclaim for its artistic product and we are proud that our gift will help ensure that the quality of HGO's work will continue," said Dr. Butler.
"It is particularly gratifying that this generous gift both recognizes and honors the importance and caliber of the HGO Orchestra," said HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers. "We are truly grateful to Ernest and Sarah for this marvelous support."
"We are deeply honored by this gift from the Butlers to endow the HGO Orchestra concertmaster position," noted HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech. "It is a comprehensive campaign priority to grow our Endowment in order to ensure Houston Grand Opera is a permanent part of the life of Houston, and I am thrilled we are able to name this position in honor of such wonderful people."
As a result of this gift, HGO has now raised $127 million toward a campaign goal of at least $165 million by December 31, 2014. The largest fundraising campaign ever launched in the history of the performing arts in Houston, Inspiring Performance is co-chaired by Houston business leaders J. Scott Arnoldy and Albert Chao. HGO is committed to artistic excellence and presenting work featuring the world's greatest creative talent.
The Company's unprecedented artistic and financial achievements make it arguably the most successful opera company in the United States today. This season alone, HGO has welcomed audience members from all fifty states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, as well as from at least twenty-three foreign countries.
There has been a thirty-five percent increase in subscription salessince 2007. Ernest C. Butler, M.D., is a retired otolaryngologist and the founder of the Austin Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic. Established in 1969, it has grown into one of the largest clinics of its kind in the nation. The Butlers have a long history of extraordinary philanthropic support and involvement in the arts. In 2008, they made one of the largest endowment gifts ever given to a university and the second largest for a music school, establishing the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at the University of Texas. In addition, they helped establish Ballet Austin's Butler Community School, the Sarah and Ernest Butler Opera Theatre Program at UT, the Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler Executive Director Endowment at the Austin Museum of Art, the Sarah and Ernest Family Fund Gallery at the Blanton Museum, the Sarah and Ernest Butler Family Fund Artistic Director Chair at Ballet Austin, and the Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler Concertmaster Chair at the Austin Symphony. They also supported the construction of Austin's Long Center for the Performing Arts, the home of the Austin Symphony, Austin Lyric Opera, and Ballet Austin.
They are members of the Austin Arts Hall of Fame and winners of a Texas Medal of Arts in 2011.
Dr. Butler serves on the board of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Advisory Council of the Butler School of Music, and is past treasurer and trustee of the Texas Medical Association Foundation. Mrs. Butler is the board chair of Ballet Austin, serves on the Jack S. Blanton Museum Council and the Development Board of the University of Texas, and is a past board member of Austin Lyric Opera.