When hedge fund manager Joe DiMenna was looking for a symphony to support more than a decade ago, the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York caught his ear.
Founded in 1975 at Manhattan's Church of St. Luke in the Fields, and made up of freelancers and Juilliard School alumni, it performed at Carnegie Hall with stars such as Yo-Yo Ma. Yet it had no venue to call home and was forced to practice in basements and borrowed spaces.
After the orchestra decided to launch a capital campaign of $50 million, Mr. DiMenna and his wife, Diana, made a lead gift of $5 million in 2007. Last month, St. Luke's musicians rehearsed in their new home, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music.
Mr. DiMenna made his fortune as a portfolio manager specializing in long/short investing strategies. He ranked 13th on Alpha Magazine's list of top-paid hedge fund managers in 2007, with an estimated $450 million in annual compensation. Mr. DiMenna is now managing director of New York hedge fund Zweig-DiMenna Associates Inc.
“Music was always playing in my household, and I started taking music lessons in the first grade,” Mr. DiMenna said.
Around 1998, a colleague introduced the DiMennas to St. Luke's.
“It was the passion of the musicians, and they appeared to be having a great time,” Mr. DiMenna said. “They were making eye contact and really having fun doing it, and that made a big impression.”