Carnegie Hall shifts chairs

Carnegie Hall shifts chairs


norman lebrecht

February 19, 2015

Sanford I. Weill stepped down today as chairman of Carnegie Hall, a post he has commanded with great vigour since 1991.

He is succeeded by Ronald O. Perelman, who has been a trustee for 27 years. Weill becomes president.

Weill is 81, Perelman 72.

You ever wonder why Carnegie doesn’t pack in the kids the way it did in Lenny’s day?

bernstein children

UPDATE: Perelman told the NY Times that ‘he was not much of a classical music enthusiast and would push for the hall to stage more of the pop performances it was known for decades ago.’

press release:

NEW YORK, NY—Carnegie Hall today announced that Sanford I. Weill, Chairman of Carnegie Hall’s Board of Trustees since 1991, will retire from this post after 24 remarkable years of service and a total of 32 years as a Carnegie Hall trustee. Mr. Weill will continue to serve as a member of Carnegie Hall’s board, transitioning to a new role as President, a title formerly held by the late violinist Isaac Stern. Mr. Weill is only the second person to hold the title of President since Carnegie Hall was established as a non-profit in 1960.

Ronald O. Perelman, a Carnegie Hall trustee for 27 years since joining the board in 1988 and a Vice Chairman since 2012, was elected today as the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees at a meeting of the organization’s Board of Trustees. He succeeds Mr. Weill as Chairman. Both Mr. Weill and Mr. Perelman assume their new posts effective immediately.

Sanford I. Weill said, “Since my earliest days of being involved at Carnegie Hall, Isaac Stern was an important mentor to me, passing on his passion for this amazing place. The two of us shared a vision for what the Hall could mean one day as an important center for music education and a place to bring people together through the power of music as a universal language. I feel proud to have worked for so many years with the entire Carnegie Hall family to support and advance this vision, and it is meaningful to me to now share this association with him as the Hall’s next President. As always, I remain very excited about Carnegie Hall’s future, and I know that Ronald Perelman, a longtime advocate of Carnegie Hall and my very good friend and colleague, will do a great job as our next Chairman. I look forward to working with him, Clive Gillinson, and the entire team as we continue to forge the path ahead.”

Ronald O. Perelman said, “Carnegie Hall is known around the world for representing the best in music, and I’ve seen firsthand through my work as a Vice Chairman that the strong reputation that it enjoys today is due in large part to leaders in its history like Sandy who have been completely dedicated to fulfilling its mission. It’s a great honor and privilege to serve as the Hall’s next Chairman and to have the opportunity to build on such a strong foundation, working with the board, staff, and everyone who loves Carnegie Hall to envision a future that takes it into its next 125 years and beyond.”

Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director, said, “This new appointment appropriately honors Sandy Weill as one of the people who has most contributed to the history and legacy of Carnegie Hall. Sandy’s incredible show of leadership over more than three decades has played an essential role in helping expand Carnegie Hall into the world-class institution as we know it today. We send our heartfelt thanks to both him and his wife, Joan, for the extraordinary personal commitment that they’ve shown over the years as we look forward to beginning this new chapter together.”

Mr. Gillinson continued, “For many years now, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Ronald Perelman, a dedicated member of our board’s leadership, a passionate music lover, and someone who is deeply committed to Carnegie Hall. We’re delighted that he has accepted this new role as our Chairman and I’m excited to begin our work together, ensuring that the Hall continues to serve audiences and music in the very best way for many more generations to come.”


  • william osborne says:

    Weill is 81, Perelman 72. Fits NYC perfectly. An ossified and deeply parochial city whose cronyistic classical music culture hasn’t been especially relevant for about 3 or 4 decades. Name one classical musical concept from NYC in the last 30 years that has had genuine international influence?

    And on the other side, Alex Ross’s recent paeon to Björk is an example of how postmodern ideology has become so orthodox that it is also crushing creative classical music in America — similar to the way orthodox serialism used to. A 50 year-old woman with two kids baby talking (a common and demeaning affectation in the pop world for women,) and in a 3 to 5 minute pop song format with simplistic lyrics and little more than superficial innovations in the music. Björk’s fortune of $51 million dollars from the pop-music-industrial-complex tells us what the music and the New Yorker are really about. Ka-Ching! goes the cash register. Alex knows his job in promoting the American Staatskultur.

    And yet Björk & Co. are supposed to be a riposte to the ossification of Carnegie’s old men. Caught between these two sides, we’re left with few viable options. The city is ripe for a revolution.

    • Christy says:

      Yes, we know. Everything is wrong with classical music in the US, while Germany is utopia. If only America could be more like Germany.


      • william osborne says:

        Just saw a world class Othello at the Basel Opera this weekend — a city with a population of 195,000 and a full time opera company. And very affordable tickets. You should add about a dozen European countries to the list, not just Germany. Or maybe more. The USA ranks 39th in the world for opera performances per year. Now pretend you see nothing……

        • Christy says:

          The problem is, from your high perch with your spreadsheets in front of you, you can’t see what’s really happening in US opera.

          But really, why do you stress? Just stay in Europe where you’ll be happy.

          • william osborne says:

            I’m very aware of what’s happening in American opera. The Houston Grand Opera with an orchestra of only about 50 musicians. Washington, Philadelphia, and LA ranking around 180th for performances per year. Mighty Atlanta is 355th. San Diego claiming to be a world class company when it only did 15 performances per year while major houses do 300. And on and on. There’s no denying the truth about the troubled status of classical music in the USA — a problem that stems directly from our dysfunctional funding system.

    • Daniel Farber says:

      And where, pray, did “orthodox serialism” come from? By the way, do you ever actually GO to NYC? Where exactly is “ka-ching” NOT a priority? Are you saying America needs a Cultural Revolution like the one inflicted in China? America HAD its revolution and a lot of Brits and Brit-lovers remain a trifle bitter about it.

  • Christy says:

    Let me express my gratitude for all Mr. Weill has done for Carnegie – and it’s a lot – including, ironically for this article, helping make Carnegie a major teaching institution for thousands of kids from elementary school to college.

    Having said that, does any audience know who sits on the Board? Do the audiences who flocked to Jamie Barton last week, or Joyce DiDonato during her intriguing “Perspectives” series, or who attend the incredible masterclasses of the Weill Institute – care how old the Board members are as long as the venue is strong and successful? I think not.

    But I would be interested in the data showing that Carnegie audiences have aged. That has not been my impression in the least, particularly with their online pre-college outreach and teaching.

  • John says:

    Headline in today’s NYTimes:
    Ronald Perelman, a Mogul With Muscle, Takes Over Carnegie Hall
    Mr. Perelman said that he would push for the hall to stage more of the pop performances it was known for decades ago.


  • Milka says:

    Many years ago a NY store buyer looked me straight in the eye and answered my
    query concerning an unmarked item and if was it for sale ,she replied as only a savvy New Yorker would . “Honey, in this world everything is for sale “………………………