Family donates $29.5M to symphony orchestra

The donation comes from the symphony's chairman of the board of trustees.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A philanthropic family has given $29.5 million to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra -- the largest gift the orchestra has ever received and among the largest private investments in any American orchestra.
The gift from the family of Richard P. Simmons should serve as a catalyst for an upcoming endowment campaign, orchestra officials said Saturday.
"The gift is intended to be a strong first step to ensure that the Pittsburgh Symphony remains a world-class orchestra," said Richard Simmons, 75, chairman of the orchestra's board of trustees. "I hope that others in the community who recognize the importance of this asset will join me to achieve this objective."
Simmons is the former chairman, president and CEO of Allegheny Technologies Inc. and chairman of its executive committee. In 1994, he gave the orchestra $5 million.
"Our musicians, our board and our community are overwhelmed by Dick's vision and by his generosity," said orchestra President Larry Tamburri. "There is no doubt that all of us will respond to his challenge with comparable selflessness and enthusiasm."
How it's split
The gift includes a $7.5 million unrestricted gift to address current and future needs; a $5 million challenge to raise $25 million in a planned endowment campaign; and a $17 million irrevocable legacy for the orchestra's endowment when three consecutive balanced budgets are achieved provided that the orchestra remains an independent organization.
The symphony has an accumulated deficit of about $6 million, said spokesman Jim Barthen. Simmons' gift, he said, is "a first step in a long process. But the conditions are pretty hefty."
"In times of organization-wide sacrifice, this generous gift from Dick and his family could not be more welcome," said Andres Cardenes, concertmaster. "I think I can speak for all my colleagues in the orchestra when I say we are humbled, inspired and relieved to know that our work is valued so greatly."
The gift ranks fifth among private-sector investments, according to the American Symphony Orchestra League.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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