Late school teacher leaves $4.7M to Philadelphia Orchestra

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Orchestra has announced it received $4.7 million from a retired teacher and longtime supporter of the orchestra a gift an orchestra official called "a godsend."

Retired Abington-area music teacher Jane Kesson died at age 90 last year and friends said they expected her to leave something in her will to the orchestra but not a multimillion-dollar donation. Philly.com reported the orchestra disclosed the figure of $4.7 million this week after previously announcing a "significant" donation from Kesson.

Cindi Pasceri, a longtime friend and executor of Kesson's will, said she was "flabbergasted" by the size of the gift.

"She didn't live like that was the way it was," she said of Kesson, who remained in the same Wyncote house where she and her parents had lived since the 1950s. She taught music for the Abington School District, where onetime students described her as an unusually inspirational teacher.

"It was almost like she was married to the music. Music was her life," said Mark Henkels, a former student who now owns a musical instrument store.

The orchestra's budget last year was $50 million, Philly.com reported.

Kesson never married or had children, but her name will extend to new generations of budding orchestra patrons. The Philadelphia Orchestra said it will name a series of teacher workshops and concerts for schoolchildren the Jane H. Kesson School Concert Program.

Orchestra President Matias Tarnopolsky says the gift is transformative. Richard Worley, the orchestra's chairman, called Kesson's gift "a godsend" in comments at the orchestra board's annual meeting last month.

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

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