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April 5, 2017

For the third year in a row, the Oregon Symphony’s annual gala set an all-time gala fundraising record, this time raising over $1 million.

(PORTLAND, Ore.) –  The popping of celebratory champagne corks, the Rex Putnam High School Marching Band, and the thunderous applause from the nearly 400 attendees provided a spectacular and fitting end to the Symphony’s annual gala evening last Saturday, which marked yet another first in the organization’s 120-year history – shattering the $1 million gala fundraising mark. 

The evening began at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, where Mayor Ted Wheeler and President Scott Showalter welcomed thousands of the Symphony’s gala patrons and community partners, who enjoyed a free classical concert led by Music Director Carlos Kalmar and sponsored by Umpqua Bank with additional support from FamilyCare Health and NW Natural. The concert, titled “Classically American,” featured works by Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Aaron Jay Kernis, George Gershwin, and John Williams.

Between pieces, the 2017 Schnitzer Wonder Award, created by Jordan Schnitzer in honor of his parents Harold and Arlene Schnitzer, was awarded to Julane Stites, artistic director of Dance West, whose students also performed during the concert. The award included a $10,000 contribution to Dance West. Stites was the third recipient of the award, following Bonnie Reagan (BRAVO Youth Orchestras) in 2015 and Mia Hall Miller (Pacific Youth Choir) in 2016.   

After the concert, gala guests moved to the Portland Art Museum where they previewed Michael Curry puppets and enjoyed a cocktail hour, a Native American prayer by the Thunder Lodge Singers, one of the Oregon Symphony’s many community partners, and a three-course meal in the Kridel Ballroom. The dinner program included the premiere of an original video about the work of the orchestra, which now can be viewed at orsymphony.org.

In keeping with the “Classically American” theme, celebrity guest former Miss America Katie Harman shared the profound impact that music and the Oregon Symphony had on her life and how, as she toured the country following 9/11, she witnessed firsthand music’s ability to bind us all together.

In another first, over 100 other guests celebrated in the tented “Party on the Park Blocks,” where they mingled with their favorite musicians and enjoyed an evening of live music and catered food.

The 2017 Oregon Symphony Gala Committee was headed by Legacy Chairs Arlene Schnitzer and Howard Hedinger, Honorary Co-Chairs Mayor Ted Wheeler and Jordan Schnitzer, and Gala Co-Chairs Renée and Irwin Holzman and James Lynch and Robby Cunningham.

Commenting on the success of the evening, Symphony President Scott Showalter said, “We are all touched by the immense generosity of our gala patrons and grateful for the support of the countless volunteers who made the event so extraordinary.”

Net gala proceeds account for approximately 10% of the Symphony’s annual fundraising goal.

Event photos of the event are available at orsymphony.org/artwork/OregonSymphonyGala2017Photos.zip

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