Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Opportunities for an epidemic: the overhaul pace of Geffen Hall

The coronavirus epidemic has dealt a devastating blow to performing arts institutions across the country, closing their theaters and robbing them of ticket revenue. But for the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center, it has also offered a silver lining: an opportunity to accelerate Long overdue renewal Of David Geffen Hall.

Construction began in the last few months, with concerts in the hall canceled since March 2020. Work is expected to continue for the next year and a half, with plans to decline in 2022, the orchestra and center were announced on Monday.

It is a year and a half ahead of schedule, though it comes with a trade-off that the Philharmonic will not be at Geffen for the wave of victorious cultural homecoming expected across the country, eclipsing the epidemic.

The orchestra will still spend the majority of its upcoming season at Lincoln Center, with the majority of its performances at Alice Tly Hall or the Rose Theater, with forces for Carnegie Hall and other venues. While it plans to announce its full schedule in early June, Philharmonic chief executive Deborah Borda said in a video interview with other orchestras and center leaders that she has at least previously been on a smaller scale and timeout. Predicts the concert.

It’s done, Borda said, “the most challenging season I’ve programmed.” But, he said, “I think audience demand is going to pick up. How many more Zoom concerts can we do?”

Renovations of Jiffen Hall are expected to cost $ 550 million, of which $ 500 million has been raised, Lincoln Center President Henry Timms said in interviews. He said that “significant” personal donations were pledged, but he was not prepared to announce other naming gifts beyond entertainment Mogul David Geffen beyond $ 100 million. Started that jump project In 2015.

“Through 2020, Perfect, people’s minds were elsewhere, and we had a lot of other challenges as organizations,” Timms said. “But once we reached the end of the year, the opportunity became clear: Can we do this sooner?” It became a period in which many people stepped in to support the project, as they saw it as a recovery story, a way to invest in the city’s economic and human recovery. “

The old plan called for the Philharmonic to progress in phases to limit disengagement, which would not have lost a full season in the hall. The chairman of Lincoln Center’s board, Catherine Farley, said the new timeline would not reduce the scope of the renovation, which aims to make the derelict hall more aesthetically and acoustically attractive. The seating will be wrapped around the stage, drawn 25 feet further into what is currently Rove J, which can feel like a disgusting shoebox. The new location will have 2,200 seats below 2,738.

The walls will be revived to improve the echo of the hall, especially the bass frequencies. The lobby and other public spaces tucked in will be expanded and improved by Todd Williams Billie Tsien Architects, who joined a team in 2019, including Diamond Schmidt Architects, who are working on the interior of the auditorium; Acustic, an acoustic design firm; And Fisher Dach Associates, a theater design firm.

The Philharmonic has not gone completely dark during the epidemic. In the summer of last year and early last year, it brought small groups of musicians around the city In a rented pickup truck For a pop-up performance, and has said that it will be back on the road this spring. its NYPhil + The subscription streaming service was unveiled in February, featuring archival concerts and Some fresh ingredients. On 14 and 15 April, A contingent of players will appear in front of a small audience in the shed, 30 blocks south of Lincoln Center, with conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. (Philmonik’s music director, Zapp van Zweden, was not available due to commitments abroad, though he was in New York recently to tape two shows for NYPhil +.)

But its losses have been crushed. The orchestra has speculated The cancellation of its 2020–21 season led to a $ 21 million drop in ticket revenue, compared to $ 10 million in the final months of the previous season. (Some of this has been reduced by raising emergency funds.) When the live performance resumes despite Borda’s succulent predictions, the box office may not bounce back immediately.

The need for savings that would escalate from the epidemic was reflected in a new four-year contract agreed by the orchestra and its musicians in December, including a 25 percent cut in players’ base salaries through August 2023. The increase until the contract expired in September 2024, although musicians at that point would still be paid less than before the epidemic.

The renovation of Geffen Hall – which opened as the Philharmonic Hall in 1962 and was called Avery Fisher Hall, beginning in 1976 – has been pending cycling through planning and architects. At one point in the early 2000s, the filmhuman’s exaggerated Plotted a comeback In his old house, Carnegie Hall; That plan flourished, further damaging the relationship between the orchestra and Lincoln Center, its landlord, which uses the hall for its own musical productions and corporate rentals. Closing in 2012, the center’s $ 1.2 billion redevelopment was all improved – but expensive hall overhauls Was not involved.

Then, in 2015, Geffen Project restarted Along with Dan who gave the hall its name. Construction was scheduled to begin in 2019, but closed well amid logistic problems and management business at the Philharmonic and Lincoln Center. That plan called for Hall to complete in time for the 2021–22 season. It was a schedule that the orchestra and center had come to with suspicion, but had they clung to it, the rebuilt hall would have been ready to open, as the city hopes to emerge from the long pandemic closure.

Borda Was hired in 2017 In large part to bring renewal back on track; In his previous job leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he brought the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall to the finish line. In New York, she pushed for a plan that was less lucrative and more achievable than some proposed options – one less designed to overthrow its budget and appear in stages, the Philharmonic would be deported.

Staying away from the hall for many years was believed to pose an existential threat to the loyalty of its audience. Ironically, if Geffen had been determined by now, the orchestra would have been out of his home for about two-and-a-half seasons – exactly in a situation that was feared by his management.

For David Geffen, who Disappointed at some of the earlier failures In the years following his gift, Farley stated in the interview that he had spoken to her earlier that day.

“He’s a guy who’s big on efficiency,” he said, “and loves the idea we’re making in one shot.”

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