Board Chairman Oscar and Wife Didi Schafer to Gift NY Philharmonic $25 Million
New York Philharmonic Board Chairman Oscar Straus Schafer and his wife, Didi, are making the largest gift to the New York Philharmonic from an individual donor in the organization's history. The $25 million gift includes $20 million to help build the Philharmonic's endowment as well as the renovation of its concert home. The Schafers are also continuing their support of the Philharmonic's free Concerts in the Parks series with an additional commitment of $5 million.
"The New York Philharmonic is both a signature of this great city and a national treasure. We are thrilled to help secure the future of this most important cultural organization and what it does for the New York City community, including the Concerts in the Parks, which we have proudly been supporting since 2007," said Didi and Oscar Schafer. "Strengthening our endowment will ensure that the Philharmonic is able to fulfill its mission long into an exciting future, as we create a world-class 21st-century concert hall to be home to our world-class Orchestra."
"The Philharmonic family thanks Oscar and Didi for their incredible generosity and
leadership. This gift provides important momentum as we bolster our endowment to secure our future, and as we look ahead to a revitalized and aspirational performance home at David Geffen Hall. It's truly a special moment for this great Orchestra," said New York Philharmonic President Matthew VanBesien.
"As we all know, the greatest impact on success of any campaign comes from the leadership of an organization," said Peter W. May, Vice Chairman, New York Philharmonic. "With this historic gift to the New York Philharmonic, Oscar and Didi embody this leadership in the best possible way and have positioned us to be on our way for all the work to be done on our campaign to build the endowment and, in partnership with Lincoln Center, renovate the Hall."
The New York Philharmonic plays a leading cultural role in New York City, the United States, and the world. This season's projects will connect the Philharmonic with up to 50 million music lovers through live concerts in New York City and on its worldwide tours and residencies; digital recording series; international broadcasts on television, radio, and online; and as a resource through its wide range of education programs and Digital Archives. Having commissioned and/or premiered works by leading composers from every era, the Orchestra now champions
contemporary music through CONTACT! and the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. A resource for its community and the world, the Philharmonic complements its annual free citywide Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, with Philharmonic Free Fridays and wide- ranging education programs, including the famed Young People's Concerts and the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, collaborations with partners worldwide offering training of pre- professional musicians, often alongside performance residencies. Renowned around the world, having appeared in 432 cities in 63 countries, America's oldest symphony orchestra has long been a media pioneer, releasing almost 2,000 recordings since 1917 and today sharing live performances through downloads and online. Alan Gilbert became Music Director in 2009, succeeding 20th-century musical giants including Bernstein, Toscanini, and Mahler.
Oscar Straus Schafer is the chairman of Rivulet Capital, LLC, a private investment partnership, which he seeded in 2012. Prior to Rivulet, Mr. Schafer founded O.S.S. Capital Management in 2001, having been a member of Cumberland Associates from 1982 to 2001, and a general partner at Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Co. from 1970 to 1982. He began his investment career in 1964 with positions at Kuhn, Loeb & Co., Havenfield Corp., and Boxwood Associates. He has been a member of the Barron's Roundtable for 25 years. He earned a B.A., magna cum laude, at Harvard College in 1961 and an M.B.A. at Harvard Business School in 1964.
Mr. Schafer has served on the Board of the New York Philharmonic since 2007, including his position as chair of the nominating and governance committee since 2008. He has also been on the board of trustees at New York Presbyterian Hospital since 2007. Mr. Schafer was on the visiting committee for the Department of Music at Harvard and funded the Oscar Straus Schafer Fellowship at Harvard for teachers of its introductory music course. He has also served as President of the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation, as well as on the boards of the Harvard Club of New York City, the University Club, and Central Park Community Fund.
Didi Fenton Schafer is a member of the board of the Central Park Conservancy and vice chairman of the New York Common Pantry, and she serves on the board of the Lyric Chamber Music Society of New York. She grew up in Europe within a family of classic music lovers.
The Schafer family always has had a love of music; Mr. Schafer's great aunt, Minnie Schafer Guggenheimer, was the grande dame organizer of New York's Lewisohn Stadium concerts, where the New York Philharmonic played in the summer from 1922 to 1964, as well as a member of the Board of the New York Philharmonic. Since 2007 the Schafers have presented the New York Philharmonic's Concerts in the Parks, which have given hundreds of thousands of people the opportunity to hear the Philharmonic for free every summer in the beautiful parks of New York City. His grandfather, Edward Schafer, bought Elias Breeskin's famous Rougemont Stradivarius violin in 1915. Mr. Schafer's family also has a long history of public service, as his great-grandfather Oscar Straus was the first Jewish cabinet member under President Theodore Roosevelt. His family also has deep connections to New York City, with family cousins having been President of Temple Emmanuel, Co-Founder of Farrar Straus and Giroux, and owners of Macy's.