For the second time in six months, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra will have received a sizable donation to endow a musician’s chair.
This week, the TSO announced that the Diamond Foundation — the philanthropic group behind the Diamond Children’s arm of Banner University Medical Center — will donate $1 million to the orchestra to endow the concertmaster’s chair. The first recipient of the Joan B. Diamond Concertmaster Chair will be current concertmaster Lauren Roth, who joined the TSO in 2013.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to honor my mom in her lifetime,” said Joan Diamond’s daughter, Helaine Diamond Levy, executive director of the Diamond Family Philanthropies.
Joan Diamond, wife of Diamond Ventures Chairman Donald Diamond, grew up in a musical family. Her father played violin and her mother was a concert pianist in Cincinnati, Levy said. Joan Diamond studied piano and voice at the University of Arizona in the 1940s and involved her children in classical music.
“Music in my family is generation skipping. It passed over me and my sister, but all of my children played musical instruments,” Levy said.
The Diamond Foundation first began discussing the gift with TSO officials several years ago. At the time, Levy said, it would have been the foundation’s largest gift to date.
But talks stalled with the recession and administrative changes within the orchestra. By then the foundation had pledged $15 million to build the children’s hospital at Banner UMC at the University of Arizona.
Levy said they resumed talks when Mark A. Blakeman joined the orchestra as CEO and president in 2014.
“With Mark’s arrival, he pretty much picked up the pace and has been out in the community and trying to engage the community with the symphony more,” she said, including reaching out to donors like the foundation on creative ways to engage with the symphony.
The Diamond family has donated to the TSO over the past 10 years and the family has been season subscribers since 1966, Levy said. She said her mother regularly attended TSO concerts but hasn’t recently because of illness.
“It is especially gratifying to have supporters like the Diamond family recognizing the value of our greatest asset: our professional core of musicians,” Blakeman said in a written statement.
This is the second time in six months the orchestra has received money to endow a specific instrument. Last August, the Connie Hillman Family Foundation established a $400,000 endowment for the principal trumpet chair.