Richard and Emily Smucker have pledged the amount, with $3m as challenge grants to encourage further fundraising efforts

1024px severance hall front, cleveland, ohio

Photo by Daderot

The Cleveland Orchestra has hailed a ‘generous new commitment driven by a belief in the power of music to change lives’ after its board president pledged $15m in donations. Richard Smucker and wife Emily have made the pledge as part of the orchestra’s 100th season celebrations.

Richard Smucker recently stepped down as CEO of the family-run J.M. Smucker company, an Ohio-based manufactured of jam and other foods. He has been president of the orchestra’s board since March 2017 and a trustee since 1989.

‘Emily and I love The Cleveland Orchestra,’ he said in a statement. ‘The work these musicians do inspires audiences and young people throughout our community, across the nation, and around the world.

‘From my own life experience, I know that music has the power to change lives. It has transformed how I think about the world, and I revel in the experience of sharing a performance with family and friends, all of us together. I find myself renewed through music.’

The Smucker gift will be used to fund artistic and education programs, as well as bolstering the orchestra’s endowment. Of the total, $3m is allocated as ‘challenge grants’, match funding community fundraising efforts. The orchestra owes its home, Severance Hall, to such a scheme, as John Long Severance’s donation galvanised fundraising in 1929 and the hall was completed despite the onset of the Great Depression.

‘Richard and I invite people from across Northeast Ohio and the world to join us not only in giving to the Orchestra but in championing the impact their extraordinary music can have on individual lives,’ said Emily Smucker.

Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Möst declared himself ‘deeply moved by Richard and Emily Smucker’s support’.

‘They are deserving of thanks, not just from us today, but from future generations who will be inspired by The Cleveland Orchestra.’