Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Carnegie Hall, Philharmonic to merge


Orchestra returns to renowned venue

By Ula Ilnytzky
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - The New York Philharmonic is merging with Carnegie Hall, and it plans to resume playing there more than four decades after it moved out to become Lincoln Center's first occupant, representatives said Monday.

"The merger of the 161-year-old New York Philharmonic and the 112-year-old Carnegie Hall will create an institution of unmatched potential to achieve the highest standards of artistic excellence and innovation, which will benefit music lovers, musicians and audiences the world over," said a joint statement from the Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall boards of directors.

'Vital' musical institution

The two boards said they "have agreed to immediately enter into discussions toward forming a single musical performing arts institution that will be vital to New York's cultural landscape."

The deal leaves Lincoln Center with no long-term occupant for Avery Fisher Hall.

In a statement, Lincoln Center Chairman Bruce Crawford and President Reynold Levy said they learned on Thursday that the philharmonic and Carnegie Hall "were engaged in serious discussions ... about the prospect of moving there permanently."

The philharmonic, now led by Lorin Maazel, is the nation's oldest orchestra. It resided at Carnegie Hall from the hall's inception in 1891 until 1962, when the orchestra moved to the newly opened Lincoln Center. With Lincoln Center on the drawing boards a few years earlier to consolidate New York City's major classical music venues, developers had planned to raze Carnegie Hall, but it was saved in a campaign led by the violinist Isaac Stern.

Eric Latzky, a spokesman for the New York Philharmonic, said that the orchestra's season was planned for the next two years, so the move would be made sometime after that.

Latzky said that while serious talks about the orchestra's move "really happened late last week ... the idea had been discussed over the past couple months."

"There are many details to be worked out," he said. "That work will begin immediately."

Acoustics an issue

Carnegie Hall is celebrated for its fine acoustics. Patrons have long complained about the acoustics at Avery Fisher Hall, and despite renovations there in 1976 to fix the problem, complaints persisted.

In their statement, Crawford and Levy said Lincoln Center had "worked diligently to develop many alternatives that would satisfy the acoustic, programming and aesthetic needs of the New York Philharmonic," as well as taking "a leadership role in the fund-raising required to realize these alternatives." Given that, they said they were disappointed in the orchestra's decision to leave the center.

Looking ahead, however, the executives said they hope to expand the center's thematic programming and commissioning new music. "The forthcoming change in the use of Avery Fisher Hall allows the fulfillment of this responsibility to take on many new forms," they said.

Both Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher have similar seating capacity of about 2,800 people.




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