Ciminelli donation starts BPO’s Crescendo Campaign on high note, James Fink, Business First

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra not only kicked off its 2015-2016 season on Sept. 16, it unveiled a campaign to raise its endowment by $30 million.

And, to kick-start the Crescendo Campaign, Louis Ciminelli, BPO board of trustees chair and LPCiminelli chairman, announced he is making a $1 million gift to the fund. The gift coincides with Ciminelli’s 60th birthday Thursday, Sept. 17 and to mark Daniel Hart’s decade as orchestra executive director.

As part of the campaign, $10 million is being set aside for the “Next Generation Education Fund” that targets music education and awareness programs between the orchestra and area elementary and secondary schools. The BPO reaches 50,000 students annually through the program.

The Tower Foundation, in conjunction with the campaign, has offered a $1 million challenge grant for the Next Generation Education Fund. The foundation, named after civic leaders Peter and Elizabeth Tower, will provide $1 million if a matching $1 million is reached for the education fund.

“To keep the momentum of the program going, we need dollars,” said Ang Fatta, Crescendo Campaign co-chairman.

Ciminelli said through a “silent phase” of the Crescendo Campaign, some $17 million has either been raised or pledged.

The BPO is seeking an endowment fund north of $50 million.

Ciminelli said he is confident that the Crescendo Campaign may reach its goal by the end of next year.

“The goal is to make commitments to the BPO that will last well beyond our time,” Ciminelli said.

In recent years, Ciminelli has made more than $4 million in donations to the orchestra’s endowment fund. His latest is in recognition of Hart’s work.

Hart is widely credited with turning the orchestra’s finances around and stabilizing the organization including re-signing acclaimed music director and principal conductor JoAnn Falletta to a new contract that keeps her in Buffalo through 2021.

“The position of executive director, and Dan Hart in particular, is crucial to the health and well-being of this organization,” Ciminelli said. “Sound fiscal management is critical to the BPO, and I know that with Dan in charge, the organization will be stable for many generations to come, for which I am forever grateful.”