The timing could not have been more perfect for Margaret Alkek Williams to make a $5 million commitment to the Houston Symphony. The philanthropist, whose beauty and grace belie her age, turns 80 in September when the symphony's opening night concert will be performed in her honor.
Symphony board chairman Jesse Tutor made the announcement on the stage at Jones Hall during a special gathering of symphony members and patrons. In addition to endowing the newly-established Margaret Alkek Williams Executive Director/CEO Chair, the funds will support symphony operations and its sustainability fund.
Tutor noted that this is the largest single contribution that the symphony has received from an individual since 2006.
“As a governing director of the Houston Symphony," Williams said, "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.”
Williams is noted for her philanthropy across the city's cultural arts landscape and in the medical center. She is a regular at the city's prominent black-tie galas where she supports various organizations with major table purchases in addition to generous contributions.
Mark Hanson, who will be the first to hold the endowed executive director/CEO chair, commented, “For more than a quarter of a century, Margaret has been an extraordinary advocate for the Houston Symphony . . . 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."