- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - Christmas has come early to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The CSO’s board on Tuesday announced two donations that add up to an impressive $32 million. The Zell Family Foundation gave $17 million and the Negaunee Foundation gave $15 million.

A CSO statement says they are among the largest lump-sum gifts the celebrated symphony has ever received.

The money from the foundation linked with billionaire businessman Sam Zell and his wife, Helen, will help endow the music director position.

Riccardo Muti has held that post since 2010. The Italian-born maestro recently renewed his five-year contract for an additional five years.

The gift from the Chicago-based Negaunee Foundation will help support the CSO’s Institute for Learning Access and Training. And the institute will be renamed the Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO.