Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra Announces Public Phase of $5.1 Million Campaign for the Future

Press Release

Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), named 2020 Professional Orchestra of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, announced today the public phase of its $5.1 million Campaign for the Future. The Campaign is supported in large part by The Davee Foundation, which donated $3 million to IPO in March 2018, creating IPO’s first-ever endowment. Building on this transformational investment, IPO’s Executive Director Christina Salerno and Board of Directors sought to use the endowment as a launching pad to increase the overall financial stability of IPO while cementing Artistic Director Stilian Kirov’s vision for the orchestra’s artistic relevance and importance in Chicago’s Southland region.

Since taking the helm in 2017, Salerno and Kirov have catapulted the organization forward, drawing new, younger and more diverse audiences, fostering an environment where IPO is seen as an integral partner of the south and southwest Chicago suburbs. The completion of the Campaign for the Future will allow IPO to invest in the organization’s regional impact through expansion and innovation, cement multi-tiered educational partnerships, and become an orchestra of the community by expanding its equity, diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives.

Initiatives launched during Salerno and Kirov’s tenure include:

·         Hiring a consultant from Orchestrate Inclusion to help the orchestra on its path to fostering inclusion and equity across the organization and in partnership with the community. 

·         Launching “Classical Evolve” annual composition competition to expand the canon of classical music for current and future generations. Winning composers are named IPO “Composer-in-Residence” and have the opportunity to compose three works for IPO season. Making application criteria more inclusive in 2018 helped more female composers qualify.

·         Enhancing IPO’s musical repertoire to tout less well-known composers, especially female, African American and Bulgarian composers.

In September 2017, The Davee Foundation—a longtime IPO supporter—recognized the organization’s new found ability to enhance educational programming and music repertoire  and decided to gift $3 million to be put towards IPO’s first-ever endowment, with provisions for both general operating and educational programming. James W. Dugdale, Jr., President of The Davee Foundation at the time of the endowment grant, said, “The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra has been a grantee of The Davee Foundation for 21 years, and was a favorite of Ruth Dunbar Davee. We have been very impressed with both the quality of their music and their dedication to education. We look forward to watching their progress for many years to come.”

Following a “silent phase” where IPO approached some of its most dedicated supporters, raising another $1 million in pledges from long time investors and inspirational Board gifts, IPO formally moved to embark on a $5.1 million campaign on March 7, 2020. The following week IPO cancelled its concerts due to the global pandemic crisis.

“For Chicago’s Southland region, a $3 million gift demonstrates a transformational investment by our community and is likely one of the largest gifts any organization in the region has ever received,” said Kathleen Field Orr, Board President. “Campaign for the Future is a significant achievement that shows major public investment in an orchestra during these difficult times, and thanks to Christina and Stilian’s exceptional leadership, IPO is poised to succeed even in the most uncertain of seasons, and continue enhancing and diversifying the company, repertoire and programs.”

$1 million dollars remains to be raisedfor Campaign for the Future. More information about the campaign can be found at

About Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

Named 2020 Professional Orchestra of the Year by Illinois Council of Orchestras, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra is celebrating its 43rd Season in 2020-2021. From its community orchestra roots in Park Forest, the 69-member orchestra has grown into a critically acclaimed professional orchestra, with increasing attendance and incredible regional support. Under the leadership of Music Director Stilian Kirov and Executive Director Christina Salerno, the mission of IPO is to provide concerts of compelling professional symphonic music, support music education, and expand audience awareness of musical excellence for the diverse communities of the greater Chicago region.

In June 2020, IPO was one of 28 U.S. orchestras to receive Catalyst Fund grants from League of American orchestras to advance EDI within the organization.  This is the second year IPO has received this award.

During the Summer of 2020, IPO presented works by Price, Still, and Garrop alongside works by Dvorak, Beethoven, and Mozart during three, sold out socially-distanced concerts at Olympia Fields Country Club, plus a “pop-up” string trio concert at the Park Forest Farmer’s Market in September, which was attended by 100 people. Hundreds more have engaged in IPO’s livestream and virtual offerings produced over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra is supported in part by Ozinga Foundation, Gerhard Manufacturing and Designing, Michuda Construction, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, FnA Outdoors, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

For more information, visit or call 708.481.7774.

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