Da Camera Announces Major Gift, Largest in Organization’s History


Largest gift in music organization’s 29-year history

Annual James K. Schooler Concert will be inaugurated in 2016-17 season

Da Camera has announced that it has received a $1.64 million bequest from the estate of James K. Schooler. This is the largest gift in the organization’s history. Mr. Schooler, a longtime subscriber and supporter of Da Camera, donated more than $40,000 between 2001 and the time of his death, but wanted to leave behind a more significant and enduring gift to the organization.

“Da Camera has always aimed to create something for our audiences that is transformative and irreplaceable, but it is rare that we witness that impact firsthand,” said Sarah Rothenberg, Da Camera artistic and general director. “That we touched a patron in such a profound way, and that he repaid us with such eloquent modesty and generosity, is the greatest testament imaginable.”

Mr. Schooler was born in Stillwater, OK, in 1928. He earned bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Oklahoma. He served in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps of the U.S. Army and was a veteran of the Korean War. He spent his career as an attorney with Exxon Mobil Corp., working in many areas of the United States and for 13 years in London. After retiring in the early 1990s, Mr. Schooler moved to Houston, where he had spent several years while at ExxonMobil. Although he was a very private man, Mr. Schooler had a deep appreciation for the arts in all forms and he regularly attended Da Camera concerts and receptions.

“This generous gift is transformational for Da Camera,” said Paul Landen, Da Camera board chair. “The bequest will provide additional financial stability for years to come, as well as the opportunity to enhance Da Camera’s music programming and extend the reach of its educational and community initiatives.”

Da Camera’s board of directors has allocated $1 million of the bequest to the organization’s endowment, with the remaining $640,000 held in a restricted account that will fund transformative institutional initiatives. In honor of Mr. Schooler, Da Camera presents the inaugural James K. Schooler Memorial Concert this season with the Houston recital debut of internationally renowned violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt on Thursday, February 16, 2017.

The donation comes at a time of substantial growth for Da Camera. From 2011 to 2015, there has been a 33 percent increase in the organization’s operating budget, now $2.2 million. In the same period, the organization has seen an almost 70 percent increase in ticket sales. In 2011, Rothenberg’s role expanded from artistic director, a position she has held since 1994, to become artistic and general director. In 2013, the organization established the Artistic Development Fund, and has raised over $500,000 to support original productions, commissions, recordings and other projects. In 2015, Da Camera opened the Da Camera Music Center, which houses offices, rehearsal and Da Camera Young Artist Program workshop space, in the Menil Collection neighborhood.