Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation Gives Historic $50 Million Grant to The Cleveland Orchestra

In recognition of the gift’s long-term impact, main performance space is named Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Concert Hall

The Cleveland Orchestra’s iconic home since 1931, named for founding benefactor John Long Severance, becomes Severance Music Center

André Gremillet, President & CEO of The Cleveland Orchestra, today announced that the Orchestra will receive the largest gift in its 103-year history: a grant of $50 million from the Cleveland-based Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, which will greatly strengthen the finances of the institution while increasing its impact in its local and global community. The gift, one of the most significant ever made to a major symphony orchestra, is also the largest in the Mandel Foundation’s 68-year history.

In an exceptional act of philanthropy, the largest portion of the grant—$31.5 million—is being dedicated to endowment funds, bolstering the Orchestra’s financial foundation and supporting a Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Opera and Humanities Festival. Other funds in the grant will go toward supporting and expanding the Orchestra’s programs and partnerships. The grant will provide an unprecedented opportunity for The Cleveland Orchestra to expand access across the globe by investing in digital infrastructure and provide audiences with increased program and content choices through the Orchestra’s streaming platform, “Adella.”

In recognition of the magnitude and long-term impact of the gift, the Orchestra is naming its main performance space the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Concert Hall. The name of the Orchestra’s building will change from Severance Hall to Severance Music Center. This expanded designation will continue to honor the foundational importance of John L. Severance’s leadership as integral to the Orchestra’s legacy while signaling that the Music Center encompasses both Mandel Concert Hall and Reinberger Chamber Hall and serves as a musical gathering place for the entire community.

André Gremillet said, “This unprecedented gift lays the groundwork for The Cleveland Orchestra’s second century, supporting our long-term capacity to offer extraordinary musical performances and inspiring programs while transforming our ability to reach audiences far beyond the physical limits of our building. Like the Orchestra, the Mandel Foundation combines a global outlook with a deep commitment to the Cleveland community. We will forever be grateful to the Foundation for its extraordinary generosity.”

Dr. Jehuda Reinharz, President and CEO of the Mandel Foundation, and Stephen H. Hoffman, Chairman, said, “The Mandel Foundation has made this grant because of the Mandel brothers’ deep commitment to the vitality of Cleveland and a belief in the value of the humanities to shape an enriched spirit of life. The world-class level of music of The Cleveland Orchestra is the embodiment of both, and with this gift we hope to help ensure that it will be available for generations to come.”

Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director, said, “As the Orchestra prepares to embark on its 104th season, we are moved and inspired by this remarkable recognition of our work. The musicians and audiences will feel the benefits of the Mandel Foundation’s gift almost immediately, starting with the upgrades to the building which will allow us to continue capturing video for our digital offerings.”

Richard K. Smucker, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said, “Coming after the challenges of the past year and a half, this outstanding gift from the Mandel Foundation enables us to step forward with renewed confidence in our ongoing drive to strengthen the financial foundation of The Cleveland Orchestra. We hope and trust that many other donors, large and small, will be encouraged in their giving by this model of philanthropy.”

About The Cleveland Orchestra

Under the leadership of music director Franz Welser-Möst since 2002, The Cleveland Orchestra continues to extend its artistry and musical abilities and remains one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world. Year after year the ensemble exemplifies extraordinary artistic excellence, creative programming and community engagement. In recent years, The New York Times has called Cleveland “the best in America” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color and chamber-like musical cohesion, describing The Cleveland Orchestras as “virtually flawless,” “one of the finest ensembles in the country (if not the world)” and “not just America’s most elegant symphonic ensemble, but also one of its premier opera bands.”

One of the few major American orchestras founded by a woman, Adella Prentiss Hughes, The Cleveland Orchestra performed its inaugural concert in December 1918, at a time of renewed optimism and progressive community ideas. By the middle of the century, decades of growth and sustained effort—along with its own concert hall—had turned the ensemble into one of the most admired around the world.

A long history of strong community support from across the ensemble’s home region continues to drive the Orchestra forward and has provided remarkable energy and focus throughout the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The past decade has seen an increasing number of young people attending concerts, bringing fresh attention to The Cleveland Orchestra’s legendary sound and committed programming. A series of annual opera presentations has also showcased the ensemble’s unique artistry and collaborative work ethic. Productions have included Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (2019), Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (May 2017), a double bill of Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin and Bluebeard’s Castle (April 2016) and an innovative presentation of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (May 2014, with encore performances in Cleveland and Europe in 2017).

The partnership with Franz Welser-Möst marks its 20th year with the 2021-22 season and has earned The Cleveland Orchestra unprecedented acclaim around the world, including a series of residencies at the Musikverein in Vienna, the first of its kind by an American orchestra. The Orchestra’s 100th season in 2017-18 featured two international tours, concluding with the presentation on three continents of Welser-Möst’s Prometheus Project featuring Beethoven symphonies and overtures presented in May and June 2018 at home in Cleveland, in Vienna’s Musikverein and in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall.

The Cleveland Orchestra has a long and distinguished recording and broadcast history. A series of DVDs (available through Clasart Classics) and CD recordings under the direction of Mr. Welser-Möst continues to add to an extensive and widely praised catalog of audio recordings made during the tenures of the ensemble’s earlier music directors. In 2020, the Orchestra launched its own recording label to great fanfare and praise and also created a new series of streaming broadcasts for audiences at home during the pandemic.

Seven music directors—Nikolai Sokoloff , Artur Rodziński, Erich Leinsdorf, George Szell, Lorin Maazel, Christoph von Dohnányi and Franz Welser-Möst—have guided and shaped the ensemble’s growth and sound since its founding in 1918. Through concerts at home and on tour, via radio broadcasts and a catalog of acclaimed recordings, The Cleveland Orchestra is heard today by a broad and growing group of fans around the world. For more information, visit: clevelandorchestra.com.

About the Mandel Brothers and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation

In 1940, brothers Jack N. Mandel (1911-2011), Joseph C. Mandel (1913-2016) and Morton L. Mandel (1921-2019) invested $900 and bought the furniture, fixtures and inventory remnants of a small auto parts business from their uncle, Jacob Mandel, and started Premier Automotive Supply Company which later became Premier Industrial Corporation. The worldwide headquarters was located on Euclid Ave.

The brothers began donating to charities in the late 1940s, and as their business success increased, so did their giving. In 1953, the brothers founded the Mandel Foundation to make philanthropic contributions for charitable, religious and educational purposes. In 2012, the Foundation name was officially changed to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.

The work of the Foundation is grounded in the belief that exceptional leaders, inspired by powerful ideas, are key to improving society and the lives of people around the world. The Mandel Foundation has identified five areas of engagement that influence its decisions for giving, in the United States and Israel, which include: leadership development, management of nonprofits, humanities, Jewish life and urban engagement.

Morton Mandel served as Chair and CEO and oversaw the planning and operations of the Mandel Foundation until his death in October 2019. In 2011, Jehuda Reinharz, former President of Brandeis University, was named Worldwide President of the Mandel Foundation. Upon the passing of Morton Mandel, Jehuda Reinharz was named President and Chief Executive Officer and Stephen Hoffman, President Emeritus of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, was named Chair of the Board.

For more information on the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, visit mandelfoundation.org.