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Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Marketing & Communications
(714) 876-2380

Two Principal Chairs endowed by longtime Pacific Symphony supporters—Elizabeth and John Stahr and Catherine and James Emmi—in effort to solidify orchestra’s future

Orange County, Calif. — November 20, 2014

Pacific Symphony recently became the recipient of two new principal chair endowments. The significant and exemplary gifts were received from longtime Symphony supporters Catherine and James Emmi and Elizabeth and John Stahr. The Principal Second Violin Chair has been endowed by the Stahrs, while the Emmis, who have been subscribers and donors of the Symphony since 1987, endowed the orchestra’s Principal Cello Chair, held for the past 22 years by Timothy Landauer. Landauer’s chair is the second chair endowed by the Emmis, who have also underwritten Symphony musician Robert Becker’s Principal Viola Chair with a generous gift in 2001. In speaking to the Emmis, while relaying a sentiment of other principal musicians, Landauer said: “The chair endowment is a trust and honor bestowed on us by wonderfully generous donors. It challenges us to make more beautiful music to show our gratitude and appreciation.”

The Symphony’s Principal Second Violinist since 1998, Bridget Dolkas, beamed when she heard the news that her Principal Second Violin Chair had been endowed by Stahrs, before proclaiming: “I’ve always wanted to be a Stahr!”

“Endowing a principal chair in the orchestra is like naming a building at a university,” said board member Mike Gordon, one of the Symphony’s most generous volunteers and co-leader of an effort to build the Symphony’s endowment over the next several years. “The Symphony depends on a strong endowment to keep ticket prices affordable and to assure a dependable revenue stream that supports the orchestra’s artistic

leadership. Because we are a relatively young orchestra, we must play ‘catch up’ in building our endowment. Other major orchestras of similar budget size ($20 million) have endowments three or four times the size of their budget. Pacific Symphony’s endowment is just shy of the $20 million threshold, and we plan to double that over the next three years.”

Gordon, along with his wife, Ellie, practices what he speaks. The Gordons have endowed Raymond Kobler’s Concertmaster Chair in perpetuity. In total, seven of the Symphony’s 24 principal chairs have been endowed.

John Forsyte, the Symphony’s president, thanked the Emmi and Stahr families at the organization’s recent annual meeting. “Pacific Symphony is unique in many ways,” he said.  “As the orchestra matures and further diversifies its commitment to the Orange County community, it must have a healthy and growing endowment to support our services, especially our education and community outreach programs, which have no dedicated revenues. And our growing number of endowed chairs sends a strong signal of commitment to our musicians and to those around the country.”

The Symphony’s endowment also includes funds that have been given over the years to support specific programs. Arts-X-press, a summer arts immersion program for middle-school students, is entirely endowed by contributions in memory of Cole St.Clair, including a $1,000,000 gift from the late Mary and Peter Muth.

Pacific Symphony’s endowment is governed by investment policies with oversight by the Symphony’s board of directors, assuring that the endowment’s permanency is protected, and that donors’ commitment to the long-term financial stability of the Symphony is assured. In addition to the endowment, a separate endowment restricted to use by the Symphony has been established at the Orange County Community Foundation, providing an alternative depository for residents who may not be closely aware of the Symphony’s endowment.

“Nothing during this anniversary season would please me more than to provide

for the long-term security of this great orchestra,” said Music Director Carl St.Clair, who is celebrating his 25th season with the orchestra. “Key to that objective is a substantial endowment that can provide this long-term financial stability. Symphony leadership is dedicated to this goal, and—with the community’s help—it will be achieved.”

For more information about Pacific Symphony, call (714) 755-5799 or visit For more information about the Chair Endowments, call Gary Good, senior executive for special campaigns and major gifts, at (714) 876-2360.