May 20, 2015


Vanessa Astros
Senior Director, Communications

(713) 337-8560

Kristen Bennett
PR Coordinator
(713) 337-8557

Download Photo
Margaret Alkek Williams with Mark Hanson, Executive Director/CEO 


Symphony receives largest single gift from an individual in nearly a decade

Gift will endow the creation of the Margaret Alkek Williams Executive Director/CEO Chair

Gift to also support key artistic projects, including Three Weeks of Beethoven, The Cosmos—An HD Odyssey and the continuation of the renamed “Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision Series” of concerts

The Houston Symphony's 2015-16 Opening Night performance to honor Margaret's 80th birthday

HOUSTON (May 20, 2015)—Chairman of the Board Jesse B. Tutor, addressing a full crowd of Houston Symphony family members and supporters on the stage of Jones Hall yesterday evening, announced that Governing Director Margaret Alkek Williams has committed $5 million to the institution. The gift – the largest single contribution the Symphony has received from an individual since 2006 – will support operations, Sustainability Fund and the Houston Symphony Endowment to create the Margaret Alkek Williams Executive Director/CEO Chair.

“The performing and visual arts community in Houston is incredibly important to me. Attending the range of performances and exhibitions that our city has to offer gives me great joy, and is personally very fulfilling. It is vital that our flagship arts organizations have the operational and endowment support they need to prosper and grow,” Margaret Alkek Williams said. “As a Governing Director of the Houston Symphony, I am proud to provide this $5 million commitment at this pivotal time in the orchestra’s history as they embark on the implementation of a 10-year strategic plan that will very much ensure the Symphony thrives as Houston’s symphony well into its second century.”

The gift is not only a vote of confidence in the organization’s new “Vision 2025” Strategic Plan, which seeks to deepen the orchestra’s impact and profile in the Houston community and beyond, but is a ringing endorsement by Margaret in the work of Executive Director/CEO Mark C. Hanson.

Margaret continued, “Since they first arrived in Houston five years ago, Mark Hanson and his wife Christina have become good and trusted friends. As much as Mark is honored to be the first person to hold the Margaret Alkek Williams Executive Director/CEO Chair, I am equally honored to attach my name to such an important position in the organization’s leadership.”

In acknowledging the gift, Executive Director/CEO Mark C. Hanson said, “For more than a quarter of a century, Margaret has been an extraordinary advocate for the Houston Symphony. On a personal level, she continues to be a dear friend to both Christina and me. Through her philanthropy, she has allowed the organization to dream, to pursue new ideas and to retain and recruit the finest musicians and conductors to Houston. I’m deeply honored to be the first person to hold the Margaret Alkek Williams Executive Director/CEO Chair.”

In making her gift, Margaret has also allowed the Symphony to meet its Sustainability Fund goal for the 2015 fiscal year. Sustainability funding has allowed the Symphony to report four consecutive balanced budgets during a period of transformational change and growth that has included a Centennial Celebration and the appointment of a new Music Director.

Margaret’s generous donation will be linked to a variety of artistic projects close to her heart, including 3 Weeks of Beethoven for the 2016-17 and 17-18 seasons and her continued support of the “Sound + Vision” concert series, which will be renamed the “Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision Series” and The Cosmos—An HD Odyssey, the third and final installment of the Symphony’s innovative HD Odyssey film series. The “Margaret Alkek Williams Sound + Vision Series” is a series of concerts that seeks to build deeper relevance and more accessibility for new audiences, featuring visual elements such as video, dialogue, text translations, visual images and/or special lighting, all in support of the live music.

In recognition of the gift, among other ways throughout the season, the Houston Symphony’s 2015-16 Opening Night performance on September 12th will be given in honor of Margaret’s 80th birthday.

About Houston Symphony

During the 2014-15 season, the Houston Symphony enters its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. This season also marks the inaugural year for new Music Director Andrés Orozco- Estrada. The Houston Symphony is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas whose inaugural performance was held at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $29 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 286 performances for 300,000 people, including 82,000 children, annually. For tickets and more information, please visit or call (713) 224-7575.