The Australian Chamber Orchestra receives the biggest gift in its 41-year history

October 6, 2016

“I don’t tag myself as a philanthropist. I just do what something inside me leads me to do.” Peter Weiss AO
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The Australian Chamber Orchestra receives the biggest gift in its 41-year history

“I don’t tag myself as a philanthropist. I just do what something inside me leads me to do.” Peter Weiss AO

Peter Weiss AO, one of Australia’s most dedicated arts philanthropists and a successful businessman has just donated to the ACO an exceptionally fine and extremely rare cello made by Giuseppe Guarneri filius Andreæ in 1729. The cello is valued at A$1,800,000. This is the biggest single gift in the ACO’s history.

Peter Weiss’ passion for music stems from his life-long love of the cello, and in 2007, this love inspired him to purchase the Guarneri cello, which he made available on permanent loan to the ACO for use by Principal Cello, Timo-Veikko Valve.

In keeping with Peter’s characteristic modesty, his identity as the benefactor of this extraordinary gift remained confidential until 2011 when the ACO launched the ACO Instrument Fund. The Fund was set up to acquire fine instruments for members of the Orchestra to play. The first asset it acquired was a 1728/29 Stradivarius violin which is played by Principal Violin, Satu Vänskä. In that year in an act of overwhelming generosity, Peter pledged a donation of $1,000,000 to the ACO for the Instrument Fund, which up until today had been the largest gift in the Orchestra’s 41-year history. At that time, Peter let the ACO reveal his ownership of the Guarneri cello so that others might be encouraged to follow his example and support the arts.

On playing the Guarneri cello, Timo-Veikko Valve says “The inspiration I have received from the cello can be heard in my concerts and recordings all over the world. Looking back now I think I would be struggling without it.”

Mr Weiss describes his philanthropy as “instinctive”. His unfailing support for the projects he loves comes from an absolute belief that the projects will have long lasting effects and will resonate through the years. Mr Weiss says “At this stage of my life, I feel I would be happier for the ACO to own the cello rather than me.” Such a gesture helps guarantee Australia’s cultural legacy, and is of benefit to the wider Australian community.

The ACO has enjoyed the privilege of Mr Weiss’ company, friendship and support for over twenty-five years in a variety of important capacities: 2016 donation of Giuseppe Guarneri filius Andreæ cello c.1729 to the ACO; Patron, ACO Instrument Fund; Patron of Principal Cellist Timo-Veikko Valve through the Medici Program; Life Patron; Patron, Emerging Artists and Education Program; Patron, ACO 2010 Trans-Atlantic Tour; Co-Sponsor of 2009 Luminous concerts; Founder and Major Patron, Bach Inspired concerts and recordings 1997-2007; past Chairman, Medici Council; Past Deputy Chairman, ACO Board.

The Guarneri cello can next be seen in performance when Timo-Veikko Valve performs the Vivaldi Cello Concerto in E minor in the ACO Soloists concert, touring 6 -19 October.

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