In Memoriam: Robert Capanna, Former President of The Presser Foundation

Robert Capanna

Robert Capanna, Former President of The Presser Foundation

It was with the profoundest sense of loss and sadness that we received news of the passing on January 26, 2018, of our dear friend, colleague, and former President of The Presser Foundation, Robert Capanna.  Known and respected by all as a gifted composer, visionary leader, financial strategist, and as a man of scruples and conviction, his legacy to the art of music, to the City of Philadelphia and the region, to the nation through his leadership of organizations dedicated to advancing the causes of music and education and, specifically, to The Presser Foundation will long be felt by and influence the countless people and organizations he touched.

Bob’s leadership as President of The Presser Foundation for ten years resulted in major strategic planning, thoughtful revision and updating of the Foundation’s approaches to virtually every dimension of its philanthropy, steadfast adherence to the guiding principles established by Theodore Presser himself, and, in sum, exemplary stewardship.

The Presser Foundation Trustees, Committee Members and staff express sincerest condolences to his wife, Cathryn Coate, to his children, and to his extended family and his many colleagues and friends at this time of great loss.

A visitation is set for Wednesday, January 31st from 4:00-6:00pm at the Pennsylvania Burial Co./Baldi Funeral Home, 1327-29 S. Broad Street.  A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Donations in his name may be made to the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, 1528 Walnut Street, Philadelphia 19102; PRISM Quartet, 257 W. Harvey Street Philadelphia 19144; and Philadelphia FIGHT, 1233 Locust Street, Philadelphia 19107.



News Release: The Presser Foundation Announces Capital Support Grants

May 2, 2017 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – The Presser Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of grantees for Capital Support.  These grants, totaling $647,500 this fiscal year, are designated for capital projects of music organizations providing a broad range of classical symphonic, chamber, choral and/or vocal music. Capital projects include the construction of new facilities and the renovation or expansion of existing facilities.

Dr. Jeffrey Cornelius, Chair of the Capital Support Committee commented on these grants, “Awardees of this year’s Capital Support grants were selected from among applications of considerable merit representing a wide range of educational and presenting organizations.  Building and renovation initiatives approved by the Board were judged to be particularly congruent with founder Theodore Presser’s vision.  Applicants established their potential for significant impact on advancing music education, performance, and philanthropy.  We congratulate these organizations on their vision and their contributions to their respective communities.” 

 2016-17 Capital Support Grantees (in alphabetical order)

Bethany College

Cathedral Choir School of Delaware

The Grand Opera House

Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation

Illinois Wesleyan University, Presser Hall*

Kimmel Center, Inc., Academy of Music*

Lebanon Valley College*

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts

Ohio Wesleyan University, Presser Legacy

Settlement Music School

Stetson University, Presser Hall

Temple University, Boyer College of Music and Dance

University of Delaware

*Previous Multi-Year Grantee

News Release: The Presser Foundation Announces Advancement of Music Grants

The Presser Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of grantees for Advancement of Music. These grants, totaling $700,000, provide general operating support to music presenting, music performing and music education organizations in the Greater Philadelphia Area.

Michael Stairs, Chair of the Advancement of Music Committee, provides comment, “Having received a record number of proposals for consideration, we are pleased to announce the selection of this year’s Advancement of Music grantees.  These high-quality organizations represent the best in the field of orchestral and choral music programming providing both students and audiences with meaningful experiences.  It is an honor to provide critical general operating support to these successful organizations in the Greater Philadelphia Area.” 

 2016-17 Advancement of Music Grantees (in alphabetical order)

Academy of Vocal Arts

Allentown Symphony Association

Ars Nova Workshop

Artistas y Musicos Latino Americanos

Astral Artistic Services, Inc.

Bucks County Choral Society

Bucks County Symphony Society

Cathedral Choir School of Delaware

Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia

Chester Children’s Chorus

Choral Arts Philadelphia

Commonwealth Youth Choirs

Community Conservatory

Community Music School Lehigh Valley

Community Music School of Collegeville

Darlington Arts Center

Delaware County Youth Orchestra

Delaware Symphony Orchestra

Dolce Suono Ensemble

Kimmel Center, Inc.

Lancaster Symphony Orchestra


Lyric Fest

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia


Network for New Music

Opera Philadelphia


Orchestra 2001

Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale

Philadelphia Chamber Music Society

Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts

Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus

Philadelphia Youth Orchestra

Piffaro, The Renaissance Band

Play On, Philly!

Princeton Symphony Orchestra

PRISM Quartet, Inc.

Reading Symphony Orchestra

Riverside Symphonia

Settlement Music School

Singing City

State Theatre Regional Arts Center at New Brunswick, Inc.

Symphony in C

Tempesta di Mare, Inc.

Temple University Music Preparatory Division

The Allentown Band

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem

The Crossing

The Friends of Chamber Music of Reading, Inc.

The Mann Center of the Performing Arts

The Music School of Delaware

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Trenton Community Music School

News Release: The Presser Foundation Announces Special Project Grants

The Presser Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of eleven Special Projects totaling $290,700 in both single year and multiple year grants. These grants are in addition to multi-year commitments to Astral Artistic Services, Inc., Rider University – Westminster Choir College, and Project 440 totaling $49,000. Lucinda S. Landreth, President of the Board of Trustees, commented, “We are proud to support so many worthy music presenting, music performing and music education organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area whose projects are innovative, compelling and fill a clearly defined community need.”


Special Project Grants: (in alphabetical order)


  • Allentown Symphony Association: Organ Festival
  • Bowerbird: Julius Eastman: That Which Is Fundamental
  • Bucks County Choral Society: Voices of the Future
  • Cathedral Choir School of Delaware: Wilmington Bach Festival
  • Lyric Fest: Recording Project
  • Network for New Music: ArtMusic 2018
  • Philadelphia Chamber Music Society: Four Quartets – The Premiere Project
  • Piffaro, The Renaissance Band: Hammer Blows that Changed the World: Music of the German Reformation
  • Tempesta di Mare, Inc.: Reclaiming Telemann
  • The Mann Center for the Performing Arts: New Frontiers: Launch, Explore, Discover
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra: Bernstein Centennial Celebration


More information on the Foundation’s grant making activity can be found on it’s website


Summer greetings on behalf of the Board and staff of The Presser Foundation!

We hope you are enjoying a wonderful summer! It is a time for us to reflect, plan and, in the spirit of transparency, share some thoughts with our stakeholders.
With our charge and commitment to focus on music philanthropy, we expect our grants to help leverage your programs and to realize your goals. We see the Greater Philadelphia music community as a catalyst for innovation, a magnet for talent and fuel for economic growth. Our challenge is making the most of our assets by managing the Foundation in a way that will sustain it for the future so that it can continue to support so many wonderful music organizations.
The Foundation has consistently gifted over $3 million annually in five program areas. While our Finance Committee constantly thinks about the investment of our resources; our various grant making committees think about the impact achieved when those resources are put to work in the community.
As a result of substantial committee and staff effort, there are three areas we are going to continue to focus on and refine in 2016-17.
(1) Ensure that our Advancement of Music grants, which provide needed operating support, are consistently sized according to the grantee organization’s capacity.
(2) Better articulate and share examples of Special Project support. While Advancement of Music supports the core programs of a music organization, a Special Project grant is meant for those projects that are outside the “norm.”
(3) With over 100 years of grant making, first by Mr. Presser and then by The Foundation that was established after his death, there exist numerous buildings (known widely as Presser Halls) across the country.  The challenge for a foundation of our size is continuing to support these buildings while allowing for the support of new local Capital Projects.  In this way, we are experimenting with a new “Legacy Gift” to show meaningful support to institutions which share in our rich history.
We are looking forward to helping you realize your organization’s plans and to working with you over the next year. 


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