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Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and High Museum of Art Each Receive $1.5 Million Bequest
Light bars frame the entrance from the public piazza to part of the Renzo Piano expansion of Atlanta's High Museum of Art. AP Photo/Ric Feld.

ATLANTA, GA.- The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Art are each recipients of an estimated $1.5 million bequest, totaling $3 million, from longtime Atlanta arts patron Barbara D. Stewart. Per Ms. Stewart’s request, the funds are unrestricted.

In addition to Ms. Stewart’s bequests to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Art, was a bequest to The Atlanta Opera for $9 million.

“Every city should be so fortunate to have a champion such as Barbara Stewart,” said Atlanta Symphony Orchestra President Stanley Romanstein. “The legacy she is leaving the Atlanta Opera is remarkable, and to extend her enthusiasm and her generosity to the Orchestra and the High Museum only reinforces the thriving arts scene in this great city. We are immensely honored by her trust in our work, and grateful for the many opportunities this gift will provide.”

“A member of the High since 1992, Barbara Stewart demonstrated exceptional commitment to the museum and the arts in Atlanta with this gift,” commented Michael E. Shapiro, the High’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director. “As a regular contributor to the museum’s annual fund, as well as the High’s Capital Campaign for the 2005 expansion, her gifts have helped the museum become what it is today and will help us build our endowment for the future. We are very pleased that her continued investment will benefit the High and the city to become a national and international leader in the arts.”

Ms. Stewart’s support of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra spans twenty years, during which time she was a steadfast donor to the Orchestra’s annual fund and regular subscriber to the Orchestra’s classical season.

Barbara Stewart was a native of Pittsburgh and a long-time Atlanta resident and supporter of arts in Atlanta. Ms. Stewart earned her bachelor's degree from Arcadia University and studied economics at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of New York University. After working as a professional economist in New York, she founded the insurance consulting firm Stewart Economics, Inc., and moved to Atlanta in 1992. Ms. Stewart's many passions included classical music and opera, visual arts, and travel, and she was a devoted patron of the Atlanta Opera, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. At the Atlanta Opera, she held a major leadership role, serving not only as one of its hardest-working board members but also as its Treasurer, then Vice President, then President.

On many occasions, Ms. Stewart asked her friends and colleagues to remember how important yet tenuous arts funding is today, and to see her major charitable gifts as challenges to be matched, not replacements of other badly needed gifts. She fervently hoped her example will be followed by many others, and that these organizations will move forward to even greater achievements.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, currently in its 66th season, consistently affirms its position as one of America’s leading Orchestras by performing great music, presenting great artists, educating, and engaging. The Orchestra is known for the excellence of its live performances, presentations, renowned choruses, and its impressive list of GRAMMY® Award-winning recordings. The leading cultural organization in the Southeast, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra serves as the cornerstone for artistic development and music education in the region. Since September 2001, the Orchestra and audiences together explore a creative programming mix, recordings, and visual enhancements, such as the Theater of a Concert, the Orchestra’s continuing exploration of different formats, settings, and enhancements for the musical performance experience. Another example is the Atlanta School of Composers, which reflects Mr. Spano, and the Orchestra’s commitment to nurturing and championing music through multi-year partnerships defining a new generation of American composers. Since the beginning of his tenure (to date), Mr. Spano and the Orchestra have performed over 100 concerts containing contemporary works (composed since 1950), including 15 ASO-commissioned world premieres.

The Orchestra and Chorus has recorded more than 100 albums and its recordings have won 27 GRAMMY® Awards in categories including Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Choral Performance, and Best Opera Performance.

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