The Future Is Now

The Future Is Now

News Release



Memphis, TN (May 21, 2019) — Last Saturday, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra (MSO) announced an ambitious drive to properly capitalize the organization, as well as the first named chair in decades. A current matching fund of $10 Million will increase the impact of donations to the campaign, dollar for dollar, and to encourage participation in the overall $35 Million campaign. Including the potential matched gifts, $25 Million has been raised to date. The early success of the campaign also means that 100% of future gifts can go directly to the endowment.

The orchestra also announced that it would be naming the Principal Clarinet position for past MSO Chairperson Gayle S. Rose, a lifelong supporter of music and former professional clarinetist. Rose was a stabilizing force in an otherwise rocky time for the organization and her steadfast support and guidance has allowed the MSO to come through with great hope for the future. Alongside her many successes in fundraising drives was the visionary push to secure Maestro Robert Moody to a long-term contract as Music Director. Long time musician Robert Patterson first met Gayle while playing gigs together over 30 years ago. He shared, “I appreciate her ability to effect positive change as I followed her career through the years from afar. It was a delight to become reacquainted with her when she assumed the role of MSO Board Chair some thirty years after we had played in our ensemble together. The MSO still exists only because of her unrelenting effort to keep it going.” Open chairs in the orchestra will be named throughout the campaign.

The MSO Board of Directors established permanent endowments at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and the University of Memphis Foundation, which will manage the funds for the current and future benefit of the MSO. The University of Memphis Foundation fund will also support the collaborative work between the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music and the MSO.  Symphony Board Chair Louise Barden shared, “The funds are true endowments which are permanently restricted to prevent spending of the corpus.  This structure provides an important safeguard for investors in our campaign, and it will ensure stability for the organization and our musicians for years to come.”

The campaign, titled The Future is Now, is launching its second phase to complete the endowment drive and build the reserve fund to an appropriate level. The next $10 Million raised will be matched dollar for dollar to provide a major incentive for involvement and will welcome both cash and estate gifts. The end result will provide the proper capital to support the “core orchestra” model adopted in the mid-1980s. “The musicians are the orchestra,”  MSO President and CEO Peter Abell said, “their talent and contribution to the city is why we exist and we are very pleased this campaign can reward the artists for everything they do and have done to make this a wonderful place to live.”

The MSO is also undergoing a transformation to be an orchestra for the entire community. Music Director Robert Moody shared, “Music is the one great thing that can unite all people. Live music is very special no matter how it is delivered and the challenge to connect with the entire community is the reason I wanted to be in Memphis.”

To learn more about how to make a gift to the campaign please visit or contact: Peter Abell, MSO President and CEO | (901) 779-7825

About the Memphis Symphony Orchestra: The Memphis Symphony Orchestra, under Music Director Robert Moody, strives to enrich the lives of our diverse community through exceptional music and dynamic programs. More than 400 musicians, staff and volunteers make up the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Chorus and the Memphis Symphony League, operating educational programs, organizing community engagement events and performing concerts. Find information about all upcoming performances, ticket purchases, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s involvement in the Memphis community, and learn how to support MSO by visiting