The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra announced that it has received a major gift to endow the assistant conductor chair, currently held by François López-Ferrer, from longtime donors Ashley and Barbara “Bobbie” Ford. The CSO’s assistant conductor position provides artistic support to CSO Music Director Louis Langrée and May Festival Principal Conductor Juanjo Mena at rehearsals and performances and conducts CSO Young Peoples Concerts, which reach over 17,000 students and teachers annually. The gift was funded in early fall 2019, with plans to announce it at the end of the current season, celebrating the CSO’s 125th anniversary. With the rest of the season canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Fords felt that making the announcement now would signify confidence in the future of the orchestra despite current difficulties, offering the orchestra “a beacon of hope for weathering the storm, and maybe it will motivate others to rally round the cause as well,” said the Fords. The gift marks the second chair supported in perpetuity by the Fords, who endowed the principal tuba chair in 2017.