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New York Philharmonic to Carnegie Hall

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The recent surprise announcement that the New York Philharmonic will be leaving Lincoln Center and merging with Carnegie Hall has shaken the classical musical world. presents a selection of reports and opinion on the merger, including reaction from some of the key figures involved. -- Ed.

NEW YORK (2003-06-02) Forty years after it left for Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic plans on moving back to Carnegie Hall. The surprise move could come in 2006, and gives the orchestra a chance to escape the troubled acoustics of Avery Fisher Fisher Hall without enduring the cost of renovation. It would also make the Philharmonic a managing partner rather than rent-paying tenant.

"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.

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."

Officials at Lincoln Center are said to be stunned by the deal. In a statement, Lincoln Center said it learned last Thursday that the Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall "were engaged in serious discussions ... about the prospect of moving there permanently."

Lincoln Center chairman Bruce Crawford and president Reynold Levy told the New York Times they were taken aback when told of the planned switch, which leaves them no long-term occupant for Avery Fisher Hall. Martin E. Segal, a chairman emeritus of Lincoln Center, called the merger "a form of cultural cannibalism."

The arts complex on Manhattan's Upper West Side faces a reconstruction project is likely to cost upwards of $260 million, and at a time when another major constituent, the New York City Opera, is considering a move to the World Trade Center site.

Patrons have complained for years that the acoustics at Avery Fisher Hall hindered New York Philharmonic's sound. Several extensive renovations have taken place to correct the issue, but problems persisted.

The Philharmonic, the oldest orchestra in the country, resided at Carnegie Hall from the hall's inception in 1891 until 1962, when the orchestra moved to the newly opened Lincoln Center.

A Selection of WNYC Reports on the Merger

Lincoln Center's Jane Moss on Soundcheck
Soundcheck presents Jane Moss, Vice President of Programming at Lincoln Center, on how the Philharmonic move should free the arts complex to expand its programming in new and unusual directions.

Zarin Mehta and Robert Harth on Soundcheck:
Soundcheck presents the insider's perspective from Robert Harth, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall and from Zarin Mehta, Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic.

WNYC Cultural Reporter Sara Fishko on Studio 360:
Sara Fishko says this latest change shaking the classical musical world may not be so much an abrogation of tradition but a return to it--and maybe to common sense as well.

Robin Pogrebin on The Brian Lehrer Show:
Robin Pogrebin, cultural reporter for the New York Times, says that the Philharmonic's move back to Carnegie Hall offers Lincoln Center "a chance to invite new groups in, to attract new audiences, and to do more unorthodox fare that might bring in a whole new population to Lincoln Center which would be quite a positive thing."

WNYC Reporter Alicia Zuckerman:
Not only will the orchestra make the Hall its new home, but its board will have a voice in programming decisions.

Related Coverage:

  • Symphonic Merger Hits a Clinker Los Angeles Times
  • Of concert halls, culture and cannabalism Kansas City Star

    New York Times Coverage:

  • Philharmonic Deal, Completed Quickly, Left Some in Dark
  • New York Philharmonic Agrees to Move to Carnegie Hall
  • News Analysis: Philharmonic Pact Raises Questions for Classical Music in New York City