Wilmington Symphony receives hefty donation, announces new downtown venue

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Wilmington Symphony board president Karen Smith and longtime conductor Steven Errante celebrate a recent legacy gift and move to a downtown venue during the group's Kentucky Derby fundraiser last week. Courtesy photo.
Wilmington Symphony board president Karen Smith and longtime conductor Steven Errante celebrate a recent legacy gift and move to a downtown venue during the group’s Kentucky Derby fundraiser last week. Courtesy photo.

A longstanding local musical group has received a legacy gift from one of its most loyal supporters.

The Wilmington Symphony Orchestra’s endowment fund was given a $90,000 donation during the non-profit’s Kentucky Derby Day fundraiser on May 7. The hefty contribution came from the estate of Frank and Ruth Funk, longtime Wilmington residents and arts advocates.

“Ruth served on our orchestra’s board of directors for many years, and now the Funks’ generosity is extending even beyond their lifetimes,” said symphony board president Karen Smith. “Their gift is further tangible evidence that the Wilmington Symphony is appreciated as a valued asset to the region and that there is belief in our local orchestra’s importance and permanence.”

Smith’s assertion may come from the organization’s nearly 50-year tradition of showcasing regional talent of all ages and offering a variety of educational programs.

The Funks’ gift was one of several major announcements made at last week’s derby party. While noting the orchestra’s roots in the community, Smith looked ahead, confirming upcoming plans to create a downtown presence in its 46th season.

For the first time, Wilmington Symphony Orchestra will perform at Cape Fear Community College’s Wilson Humanities and Fine Arts Center.

“The availability of a new performance venue located in what has now become the center of our region’s growing population base coincides with our board’s plans to increase the orchestra’s accessibility,” Smith said.

Symphony conductor Steven Errante was on hand to dedicate the 2016-17 concert season in honor of Gaile Zack, a founder of the group who recently retired after 45 years.

“Soon after her arrival to Wilmington in 1971, Gaile worked tenaciously and tirelessly to organize a local orchestra…The lives of so many citizens across southeastern North Carolina are so much richer because of her work,” Errante said.

Errante is no newcomer, either. This season will mark his 30th as conductor of the group.

More information about 2016-17 performances and youth programs, visit Wilmington Symphony’s website.