Arkansas Symphony receives $1.8 million for music education, principal cello chair endowment

Posted on: February 22, 2018

“An Arkansas native left $1.8 million to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the largest individual donation in the group’s history, to foster music education and endow the principal cello chair,” writes Emma Pettit in Wednesday’s (2/21) Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock). “The gift was given by the estate of Linda Garner Riggs, [who] died … on Nov. 15, 2017. Riggs … had chaired the orchestra foundation’s board of directors…. Before Riggs’ gift, the endowment was at $5 million…. Right now, one educator is teaching 200 children to play violin as part of the orchestra’s Sturgis Music Academy, [Executive Director Christina] Littlejohn said. The academy began 18 months ago, and that level of demand was unexpected…. With Riggs’ gift, the orchestra can comfortably hire a new music educator… The money also will help retain the orchestra’s about 60 contracted musicians…. Additional money can fund somewhat experimental programs … David Gerstein, the orchestra’s principal cellist, said he wants to begin hosting ‘micro-concerts’ in local breweries…. Riggs’ gift will also endow the principal cello chair…. Riggs’ $1.8 million donation made some long-standing ideas possible, Littlejohn said. ‘Now it’s kind of like, I’ve got a little breathing room, and I can dream again.’ ”

Posted February 22, 2018