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October 23, 2018

Colorado Symphony Announces Endowment of the Merle Chambers Chair

Media Contact:
Nick Dobreff, Manager of Publicity and Community Relations
616.485.3913 (m) – 303.308.2477 (o)

Assistant Concertmaster chair receives endowment for 2018/19 Seaso

Oct. 15, 2018 – Denver, CO – The Colorado Symphony proudly announces the endowment of a new orchestra chair for the 2018/19 Season with the unveiling of the Merle Chambers Chair for the Assistant Concertmaster. The inaugural occupant of the chair will be Yi Zhao, Assistant Concertmaster.

Merle Chambers is a longtime supporter and subscriber of the Colorado Symphony and through her family foundation, she also supports many arts organizations and other causes including early childhood education, organizations focusing on justice and equality, and more.

“As a well-known and highly respected member of our community, Merle Chambers has been a leading advocate for Denver arts organizations for decades,” said John Burtness, Chief Advancement Officer. “The Colorado Symphony is extremely grateful for her generosity and are honored that she’s chosen to endow the Assistant Concertmaster chair in our orchestra.”

Ms. Chambers received her BA in political science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1968. She holds a JD from Hastings College of the Law and a Master of Tax Law from the University of Denver. She began her career as an attorney in San Francisco and moved to Denver in the late 1970s. For more than 20 years, Merle led Axem Resources Inc., a privately held, independent oil and gas exploration and production company that participated in some of the Rocky Mountain region’s most spectacular industry successes. As CEO of Axem, she pioneered women’s leadership in the oil and gas industry as one of few women CEOs in a male dominated field.

For the past two decades, Ms. Chambers has devoted considerable time to philanthropy as president and board chair of the Merle Chambers Fund. She founded Chambers Fund in 1997 with a commitment to long-term economic opportunity and social justice.

Actively involved in civic, cultural and philanthropic affairs in Colorado, Ms. Chambers has dedicated her time, expertise and resources to improving the lives of women and families in Colorado. She is past president and a founding board member of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and was instrumental in establishing the Chambers Center for the Advancement of Women at the University of Denver where The Women’s Foundation of Colorado is located.

“Merle Chambers has been a dedicated supporter of the Colorado Symphony for many years and her generous contribution is an important investment in our bright future,” said Jerome H. Kern, CEO & Chair of the Board of Trustees. “As a non-profit organization, endowments are vital to our long- term stability and financial success, creating an important foundation from which to grow.”

The Colorado Symphony endowment is currently valued at $24 million and a campaign has been launched with a goal of building that fund to a total value of $50 million. The campaign received an enormous boost when the Avenir Foundation offered to match new gifts to the Symphony’s endowment though June 2020.


For more information or to request interviews, please contact:
Nick Dobreff, Manager of Publicity and Community Relations – 303.308.2477 (o)

For high-resolution, downloadable images of the Colorado Symphony, contact:

The 2018/19 Colorado Symphony Season is presented by Arrow Electronics and Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. Support also provided by: The Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), 9News, United Airlines, and the Colorado Symphony Guild.

Tickets to Colorado Symphony events are available online at, by phone at 303.623.7876, and in person at the Boettcher Concert Hall Box Office, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1000 14th Street. The Box Office is open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 6 p.m.; and two hours prior to each performance.

One of the leading orchestras in the United States, the Colorado Symphony Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization performing more than 150 concerts annually at Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver and across Colorado. Led by Music Director Brett Mitchell, the Colorado Symphony is home to eighty full-time musicians, representing more than a dozen nations, and regularly welcomes the most celebrated artists from the world of symphonic music and beyond. In the last year, the Colorado Symphony served nearly 233,000 people attending live performances at concert and non-traditional venues throughout Colorado’s Front Range. In addition, over 265,000 people listen to the Colorado Symphony through Colorado Public Radio’s live broadcasts of classical content featuring concert recordings, in-studio performances of individual musicians and small ensembles, and live streaming of interviews and performances with artists. Recognized as an incubator of innovation, creativity, and excellence, the Colorado Symphony continually expands its reach through education, outreach, and programming. The Colorado Symphony partners with the state’s leading musical artists, cultural organizations, corporations, foundations, sports teams, and individuals to expose diverse audiences to the transformative power of music. To learn more, visit