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San Bernardino Symphony receives largest gift in its history

san bernardino symphony photo

Music Director and Conductor Anthony Parnther leads the San Bernardino Symphony and Los Robles Master Chorale in concert at the historic California Theatre for the Performing Arts
Zachary Leazer/San Bernardino Symphony Association

September 27, 2021

In its most compelling sign of resurgence since beginning to emerge from the COVID pandemic, the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra has received the largest gift in its history: $2 million.


The donation, from the Paramo family, places the funds directly into the orchestra’s endowment.


“We were overwhelmed with the generosity of this donation,” said orchestra board president Dean McVay, adding “a gift like this will make it possible for us to positively impact more people than ever before.” 


Along with its 93-year history of orchestral music-making, the Symphony is known for its collaborations with local schools and community organizations to ensure ready access to the arts, especially for local students and their families.  They regularly perform free annual concerts for over 3,000 Inland Empire students. Even during the COVID shutdown, they were able to provide a full digital concert to the entire San Bernardino City Unified School District.


The $2 million boost to the endowment is exactly the scale of gift the orchestra has long sought as the cornerstone of a new endowment campaign. An endowment is money kept in perpetuity, kicking off investment income each year used to offset operating costs.


Gifts of this size are unusual for regional orchestras. The $2 million gift is the largest in dollar terms the San Bernardino Symphony has ever received, even outpacing a generous $1 million dollar bequest by former Board member Frank Plash in 2007.


The new gift has already been paid to the orchestra, and comes with no conditions for spending it on specific activities, said McVay. As part of the Symphony’s established endowment, this gift will provide an additional $100,000 each year to augment ticket income and annual giving to cover an operating budget that will be roughly $1 million this upcoming season. 

Photo of Dean McVay, Anne Viricel, and Conductor Anthony Parnther

San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra Board President Dean McVay, Executive Director Dr. Anne Viricel, and Music Director and Conductor Anthony Parnther
Arnie Rodni-Rodriguez/San Bernardino Symphony Association

“This gift is a major vote of confidence in the musicians of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra, our incredible board and staff, and in the direction we’re moving as we expand the size, scope, and community outreach of this organization,” said Music Director Anthony Parnther.


Orchestra piccoloist Kathleen Dyer, chair of the musician members’ committee, said the “gift is so uplifting because it means our work matters, that the arts matter.”

“I think this amazingly generous gift recognizes that what the SBSO contributes to art and culture throughout the Inland Empire is something worth valuing,” added San Bernardino Symphony executive director Dr. Anne Viricel. Symphony leadership is now working toward expanding the endowment further and has each pledged to include the organization in its own long-term planning.


“We cannot ask others to help sustain our future if we are not willing to do so ourselves,” added McVay, “and the Symphony has been in my personal long-term plan for many years.”


Concluded Parnther, “Our job as an orchestra is to create beauty and share it with our community. This gift makes it possible to enrich the city of San Bernardino and the Inland Empire even further. The future is tremendously exciting for the San Bernardino Symphony.”

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