Couple named as underwriters of the orchestra with one of the largest single gifts to the company
(Los Angeles) April 7, 2021 – Philanthropists Terri and Jerry Kohl have made an immediate $5 million gift and pledged a challenge grant in support of the LA Opera Orchestra and the company’s post-COVID recovery, part of which will be used to fund an upcoming production of Oedipus Rex by Igor Stravinsky. The challenge grant has been designed to raise money for the company’s endowment, ensuring long-term support for the orchestra. This gift, in recognition of the unique hardships that artists are facing as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns, is the largest pandemic-era gift the company has received to date and makes the Kohls among the largest donors in LA Opera history.
“We are extremely touched by and grateful for the generous, heartfelt and meaningful support from Terri and Jerry, which comes at a critical moment for the company,” said LA Opera President and CEO Christopher Koelsch. “Our stage has been regretfully dark for a year, and while we have been able to provide our orchestra some level of financial support as well as performance opportunities through our On Now digital programming, this gift will help to ensure that we are able to return to pre-COVID levels of employment and artistic strength as soon as it is safe to do so.”
In recognition of the gift, the company has named Terri and Jerry Kohl sole underwriters of the LA Opera Orchestra, officially calling it the “LA Opera Orchestra, generously underwritten by Terri and Jerry Kohl.”
“I cannot think of anyone in our community who has demonstrated such care and support for orchestral musicians,” said LA Opera Board Chair Marc Stern. “Terri and Jerry’s support of LA Opera’s orchestra will not only be transformative for the future of the company, it will also be a powerful affirmation of the excellence, artistry and individual worth of each member of the orchestra, many of whom play for orchestras and ensembles throughout Southern California.”
Made up of 62 core musicians, the LA Opera Orchestra can encompass as many as 100 players, depending on repertory. Led since 2006 by James Conlon, the company’s Richard Seaver Music Director, the group is lauded for its consummate musicianship, distinctive sound, and versatility. Players in the orchestra also fill principal positions with other distinguished Southern California symphony orchestras, ensembles and chamber groups, and the musicians are regularly heard in Hollywood film, television and recording sessions. Additionally, many are regarded as the region’s leading instrumental instructors. Their work with LA Opera has been honored twice in recent years by the Recording Academy, winning Grammy Awards for Best Opera Recording for Rise and Fall of The City of Mahagonny (2008) and The Ghosts of Versailles (2016).
In advance of LA Opera’s return to public performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in September, 2021, the orchestra will next be heard in the upcoming company premiere of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, a work chosen both for the complexity of its orchestral scoring and for its thematic resonance. Conducted by James Conlon and directed by Matthew Diamond in creative collaboration with Manual Cinema, the opera is currently being planned for outdoor performances in the early summer of 2021, subject to evolving Los Angeles County Department of Public Health public assembly regulations. This will mark the first in-person performances for the full orchestra since March 8, 2020. More details will be announced soon.
"I am deeply grateful to Terri and Jerry Kohl for having demonstrated such generosity in giving the members of our LA Opera Orchestra the support and recognition that their consistently high level of performance has merited," commented James Conlon, LA Opera’s Music Director. “In the nearly 15 years since I came to Los Angeles, I have come to know our musicians not just as world-class artists but, as wonderful colleagues whose dedication to their art and to the company is unswerving. Their artistic contribution is fundamental to LA Opera's powerful artistic image, and I am gratified to know that my personal appreciation for our orchestra musicians is not only shared, but amplified, by the Kohls' extraordinary generosity."
As with most other performing artists during the pandemic, members of the orchestra have largely been sidelined as the result of COVID -19 safety guidelines and closures. While LA Opera has been able to offer some limited employment and other forms of financial support to players during the shutdown of the theater, the company and its musicians alike are anxious to restore opera to the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
“This last year has been a roller coaster of emotions,” said Grace Oh, a violinist in the LA Opera Orchestra. “As musicians, we were among the very first to be affected by pandemic cancelations and have yet to come back. We had to put our art—something we’ve worked for throughout our entire lives—on hold indefinitely. With news of the vaccines and everything getting back in motion for our return, it is almost hard to believe there is truly a light at the end of the tunnel. This extremely generous gift, specifically focused on the orchestra, is a welcome sign of appreciation for our artistry and a signal that our return to live performance is truly imminent. We couldn’t be more excited and grateful.”
Longtime attendees and generous supporters of LA Opera, the Kohls have been contributors to the company since 2008. The Kohls are recognized as civic and cultural benefactors across Los Angeles and nationwide as a result of their individual and corporate generosity, with leadership support of the region’s most prominent musical organizations, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Colburn School, Pasadena Symphony, MUSE/IQUE, Pasadena Pops and Los Angeles Master Chorale. Terri Kohl currently serves as president of the Blue Ribbon, The Music Center’ premier women’s support organization. They are the founders and owners of Brighton, a producer and retailer of women’s fine accessories products available in Brighton Collectible stores, fine specialty boutiques and online. In addition to their personal giving, their company generously donates to a variety of national and local charities, including the company’s Power of Pink program which raises money to fight breast cancer.
"Terri and I are passionate about live music performances, but we care even more about the individual musicians who make those treasured experiences possible,” said Jerry Kohl. “For more than a year, the lives and careers of classical musicians have been completely upended by the pandemic. We want to do everything in our power to ensure that the organizations that employ them, giving them the opportunities to share their talents with our communities, have the resources they need for returning to live performances as soon as possible. The LA Opera Orchestra is comprised of dozens of the nation’s top players, many of whom have become friends. It is a true honor for Terri and me to be associated with this orchestra, LA Opera and the outstanding service they provide to our community.”
“The last 12 months and the next 12 months have been and will be the most challenging in Los Angeles music history,” he continued. “We’re stepping up because we passionately care. I hope others will step up and show their passion for Los Angeles musicians by giving whatever they can, big or small.”
ABOUT LA OPERA
Los Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be with thrilling performances, thought-provoking productions and innovative programming. The communal and curative power of opera is needed now more than ever before, given the extraordinary challenges of the time. As LA Opera awaits its cue to return to the stage with world-class productions in theaters, the company is offering a multitude of content including live recitals, opera broadcasts and learning opportunities via its LA Opera On Now digital offerings, which have accumulated nearly 850,000 views since launching last spring. The company is grateful to its supporters for helping to ensure that it has the resources needed to get through this unprecedented period through the LA Opera Relief Fund. Those wanting to support LA Opera can visit LAOpera.org/donate.
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