The Portland Symphony Orchestra has received $500,000 from the Lunder Foundation to support the orchestra’s musical education programs.

With the gift, the orchestra will create an endowed Lunder Maine Music Accessibility Fund that will be used to help pay for the orchestra’s KinderKonzerts, Youth Concerts, Discovery Concerts, Instrument Petting Zoos and PSO Explorers series, which serve kids across the state.

The Portland-based Lunder Foundation is the philanthropic arm of longtime Maine residents Paula and Peter Lunder. In the arts in Maine, the foundation has directed much of its philanthropy toward Colby College and the Colby College Museum of Art, and lately has targeted major arts organizations in Portland. It gave a $3 million challenge grant to Maine College of Art in November.

The orchestra will invest the money in its endowment fund, and draw about $20,000 a year from the fund to support the music education programs, said Carolyn Nishon, the orchestra’s executive director. “It’s an important piece of a puzzle to make sure we can sustain those programs in the long term,” she said. “It does not cover all of those programs, but it gives fantastic support for those programs, and it enables us to plan and budget for them.”

In a statement, the Lunders said, “We are pleased to support the continued success of the education programs provided by the Portland Symphony Orchestra, which enrich the lives of many Maine children each year.”

Nishon said the orchestra’s educational programs are critical to its long-term success and central to its mission. “Our mission is to serve our community by enriching lives through music. We have discovered through being heavily involved in the schools and understanding needs of students and teachers, the symphony is able to do just that,” she said. “This gift is indicative of how I hope foundations are seeing the PSO as a critical part of the community. Music is not something you do on the side. Music has the power to transform lives.”

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