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Yannick Nézet-Séguin's Philadelphia Orchestra receives $55 million donation

'Words are simply not enough to express my heartfelt gratitude,' says the Canadian conductor

'Words are simply not enough to express my heartfelt gratitude,' says the Canadian conductor

Yannick Nézet-Séguin's tenure as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra extends to at least the 2025-26 season. (Jan Regan Photography)

The Philadelphia Orchestra Association has received a $55 million anonymous donation, the largest in its history. In a press release dated June 6, the orchestra said the donation "represents an expression of confidence in the artistic and organizational leadership of the orchestra."

Montreal conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012, and he is under contract with them until at least the 2025-26 season. "In all that we do, the musicians of the Orchestra and I seek to create joy through music," he said when this $55 million donation was announced. "With this tremendous support, we look forward to sharing that joy widely and in new, groundbreaking ways in the communities of Philadelphia, across the country, and around the world."

The donation comes via a donor-advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and comprises a $50 million gift to the Philadelphia Orchestra Association and a $5 million contribution to support the orchestra's current and future operations.

"This profoundly meaningful gift is testament to the unique place of Yannick and the Philadelphia Orchestra on both the world stage and in the richly varied communities of Philadelphia," said Matías Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. "This extraordinary act of support recognizes our readiness to write the Philadelphia Orchestra's next chapter and sets us on a path to achieve artistic goals, create an expansive future for classical music, and further the place of the arts in an open and democratic society."

The New York Times reports that the value of the Philadelphia Orchestra's endowment fund will rise to approximately $212 million with this new gift. The orchestra's annual budget is roughly $50 million.

This windfall represents a remarkable turnaround for the Philadelphia Orchestra, which filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and has since had disputes with its musicians due to hiring freezes and concerns about salaries. But in March 2019, the orchestra and its musicians agreed on a contract that ensures stability for the next four years.

Nézet-Séguin, whose position at the Philadelphia Orchestra is underwritten by an endowment from Walter and Leonore Annenberg, will lead the Philadelphia Orchestra and pianist Beatrice Rana in a concert of works by Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff at Carnegie Hall in New York City on June 7.