Mercedes Bass celebrates her birthday with $5M gift to Fort Worth Symphony

Leading the symphony: Mercedes Bass with, from the left, Kevin John Edusei, principal guest conductor; Keith Cerny, president and CEO; Robert Spano, music director. (Photo courtesy FWSO)

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO) announced Tuesday that Fort Worth philanthropist and symphony board chair Mercedes Bass has donated $5 million to support the orchestra’s “ongoing efforts to expand its philanthropic base and continue its mission of artistic excellence.”

Described as a “transformative gift,” the donation was made in celebration of Mrs. Bass’ 80th birthday and will be allocated over the course of five years, the symphony said in a news release.

In addition to her donation, the release said, Mrs. Bass has initiated the Campaign for Artistic Excellence Matching Gift Program aimed at inspiring the philanthropic community to rally behind the FWSO and encouraging even greater support for the orchestra’s service to the community.

In recognition of Mrs. Bass’ steadfast support and generosity, the release said, the FWSO will rename its popular Concerts in the Garden series as “The Mercedes T. Bass FWSO Concerts in the Garden Series” for a period of 15 consecutive years. The new name will take effect when the series returns after pausing while the Fort Worth Botanic Garden constructs an outdoor amphitheater as part of its master plan.

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Meanwhile, an interim FWSO summer concert series is being called the Mercedes T. Bass Sounds of the Summer Series.

“We are immensely honored and grateful for Mrs. Bass’ extraordinary gift,” said Keith Cerny, president and CEO of the FWSO. “Her unwavering support allows us to continue our mission of enriching lives through the power of music. We are excited to embark on this new chapter and look forward to the future with great enthusiasm.”

Mrs. Bass’ leadership role with the symphony and her commitment to its growth as an internationally acclaimed institution were explored in depth by the Fort Worth Business Press in a November 2022 cover story, “Quest for the best: Mercedes Bass and the Fort Worth Symphony reach for the stars.”

“There is no reason that Fort Worth should not have the best,” she said at the time. “You can’t just have a vision. You have to have a plan and it is our hope that we will reach our goal.”

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Key to the plan, the story said, was the hiring of Cerny as president and CEO; Maestro Robert Spano as music director; and Kevin John Edusei as principal guest conductor.

“Thank goodness for the board, they took charge, provided leadership and put us on a path forward,” Mrs. Bass said.

More information about the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra can be found on the FWSO website.