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Atlanta Symphony receives $1.25 million gift to endow musician positions

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has received a $1.25 million pledge from an Atlanta couple to support its Musicians’ Endowment Fund.

The gift from longtime ASO patrons Sally and Carl Gable is an incipient one in the ASO’s drive to add 11 endowed full-time musician positions by the end of the 2017-18 season.


In December, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation gave the arts center a $38 million gift that included an estimated $8 million in endowment matching funds for the ASO.


The Gables’ initial $500,000 pledge payment means that the ASO now has $1 million in cash in the endowment fund.


The four-year collective bargaining agreement forged in November between musicians and management of the ASO and its parent nonprofit Woodruff Arts Center calls for the orchestra, which was reduced from 88 full-time musicians in the 2012 contract to 77 this season, to grow back to at least 88 by the new pact’s end.


The cost to endow a musician chair in perpetuity is $2 million to $2.5 million, meaning that the ASO must raise approximately $25 million over the next four years to meet the terms of the contract.


“We have significant work to do,” arts center president and CEO Virginia Hepner and interim ASO president Terry Neal wrote in an internal announcement to Woodruff employees Wednesday. “But we have great plans in place to help us achieve our goals.”


The Gables, both retired (he was a corporate attorney and manufacturing business executive, she a church music director), have served on a variety of arts boards, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Opera, Spoleto Festival USA and the Carlos Museum. For a time, Sally sang with the Robert Shaw Chorale.


The couple also endowed the Atlanta Opera music director’s chair occupied by Arthur Fagen.


The Gables authored the 2005 book “Palladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House,” recounting their multiyear effort to restore a 18,000-square-foot villa built in 1552 by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio near Venice, Italy, with 104 frescoes, 44 pairs of shutters, 24-foot ceilings and, at the time of their purchase, no central heat.


A team of Woodruff and ASO administrative and board leaders has been organized to pursue gifts for the Musicians’ Endowment Fund, including Neal, arts center vice president of advancement Janine Musholt and ASO director of development Jessica Langlois. Even ASO music director Robert Spano is expected to play a role.


Though much of their work will go on behind the scenes with potential corporate, foundation and high-level individual donors, broader public outreach is being planned as well. In the meantime, supporters can contribute gifts of any amount. Checks made payable to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (write Musicians’ Endowment in the notes section) can be mailed to:


Jessica Langlois
Director of Development
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
1280 Peachtree St. N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30309


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