The Baltimore Symphony has received a $1 million challenge grant from the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, a group of family foundations dedicated to cultural and educational philanthropy in the Baltimore region and Israel.
The foundation, a longtime benefactor of the BSO, will match any new gift of $5,000 or more. In addition, contributors in the $2,500-$4,999 group who double their donation in the present fiscal year will also have their gifts matched.
According to the Baltimore Sun, BSO officials have said this may be the first unrestricted challenge grant in the orchestra's 91-year history. The orchestra will have until the end of the 2007-08 season to match the Meyerhoff donation.
Marin Alsop will become the first woman to lead a top-tier American orchestra when she officially begins her tenure as music director of the BSO at the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Terry Meyerhoff Rubenstein, executive vice president of the Family Charitable Funds, said, "As a family we recognize that with the arrival of Marin Alsop and a new leadership team in place, the BSO is writing its own success story and is now poised to push the artistic limits like no other time its history."
The grant is good news for the BSO, which has had a tumultuous few years on administrative and budgetary fronts. Alsop's appointment in 2005 was met with hostility from the musicians. In January this year, James Glicker, the orchestra's CEO since mid 2004, stepped down. He was temporarily replaced by interim president W. Gar Richlin and succeeded, in September, by Paul Meecham as BSO president and CEO. In June, board chairman Philip English stepped down after a three-year term and was replaced by Michael Bronfein.
In March, the orchestra cashed in part of its endowment after years of budget problems left a deficit of almost $16 million. According to the Sun, the BSO's board of directors put aside $27.5 million of a $90 million endowment to eliminate the debt and fiscally support the current season.