Covid shot: NY Phil will return 2 years early to Lincoln Center

Covid shot: NY Phil will return 2 years early to Lincoln Center


norman lebrecht

April 05, 2021

Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic have just announced they will complete the renovation of David Geffen Hall in late 2022, nearly two years earlier than scheduled.

Deborah Borda, New York Philharmonic president, said: ‘Our accelerated renovation plan for David Geffen Hall allows us to make the most of COVID-19 closures to complete the renovation process faster and more efficiently, without stops and starts. The Hall’s immediate and long-term benefits to the community, Lincoln Center, our Orchestra, and the world of music are unparalleled. We look forward to returning to David Geffen Hall and welcoming everyone to our new, state-of-the-art home in Fall 2022 … a major signal that New York City is back.’



  • Adonor says:

    Weird, they cried poor when they cut salaries 25-50 percent over the life of the 4 year contract well past the time of Covid not to mention laying off half the staff.

    Guess they found a few hundred million in their couch cushions somewhere.

    Those who attend opening night just remember some of the principal players on stage have taken a more than 50 percent cut and will continue to do so years after the hall is open.

    • Fred says:

      The money for the hall renovation comes from different sources from their operating budget that are intended for the renovation and must stay that way being as they were charitable contributions and grants that have to meet certain criteria for tax purposes. I
      suppose if you want Borda and/or her donors to go to prison for embezzlement and tax fraud, then yes, they could have done it your way.

      But there’s another reason why Deborah Borda is a better general manager than you; she knows the excitement a new hall will generate will help the orchestra regain its footing and income in the post-Covid era.

    • Not DGH says:

      They’re not digging into their own pockets to fund the renovation; for several years they’ve been raising money specifically for this project. Such donations are restricted, and may not be used for general operating or artistic expenses. And the costs are being shared with LCPA. The building is about more than just the orchestra.

    • MacroV says:

      Capital investment vs. operations. Plus I’m sure they could not legally spend money raised for a hall renovation on musician/staff salaries.

      • Seth Rothberg says:

        The money was raised and set aside. Of course. They chose to invest in Lincoln Center and not their own musicians. The hall is not owned by NYphil and will be rented to them as before at a reduced cost.

        No one stepped up and said lets keep our musicians paid at current levels once the hall opens. Some of the board’s net worth exceeds a billion dollars. No one chose to invest in “operations” but just something with a name on a piece of marble or gold plaque. I am excited for the new hall but that’s a very selfish excitement as a patron.

        Opening a new hall with some principal players taking a 50 percent of more cut over the life of the contract that will likely never come back to 2020 levels is a disgrace no matter how any funds were allocated.

        We will see that the met orchestra will get a better deal over the life of the contract and they are in far more “trouble” but will have a brighter future.

        Ms. Borda got this done and it is a worthy pursuit and long over due. Still does not sit quite well.

        • Not DGH says:

          As a longtime arts administrator, I’d be over the moon if I could ever get paid even 50% of what a New York Philharmonic backbencher makes for working less than half the hours I that worked before I was laid off.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      They might have convinced some of the renovation donors to accelerate installment payments. Or they could have redirected some budget expenses (e.g., staging costs) to the renovation during the hiatus.

      How they dealt with musicians and staff might be a separate issue.

      • Fred says:

        I know a few musicians in the Phil, and they are all on board with this and are excited for the new hall. Unlike some around here, they understand the bigger, long term picture.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    It seems she’s handled the situation masterfully, while not starving the musicians and administration.

    • Mustlovegalas says:

      I agree she has handled it masterfully. She is highly intelligent and knows exactly what it is needed to get everything she wants.
      That does not mean the musicians did not roll over and take a terrible deal with the tremendous leverage of building a new hall and the bad press that could have come to someone who loves good press more than anything.
      I cannot speak for the hunger status on the admin that have be terminated.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I think many players will be happy to get back to playing and make at least some money. They’ll still get paid more than many ‘essential’ workers are. It’s not easy, but it hasn’t been easy for anybody.

  • drummerman says:

    will they play concerts somewhere else for the 21-22 season?

  • MV says:

    The new display is nice but the title is too far from the image associated, hence often clicking on the wrong story. Thanks

  • Sisko24 says:

    Let’s hope this time the renovation/refurbishment/redesign of Philharmonic/Avery Fisher/David Geffen Hall is worth it. I have my doubts not only because of the design and the cut in the number of seats, but also there will be no pipe organ (STILL!), and the new design seems to be for seeing rather than hearing the orchestra. May I be proved wrong…but I’m dubious.

    • Monsoon says:

      The number of seats are being reduced to help improve acoustics — the hall is simple too wide. This has been its fatal flaw from the start, and why none of the renovations have solved the problem.

      As for the lack of organ, it’s millions of dollars, plus upkeep, to be used in maybe two concerts a year, typically only in a single movement of a piece.

      And sure, they can do organ recitals at the hall, but it’s not like there’s a shortage of those at NYC churches.

      • Sisko24 says:

        The reason they didn’t program more works for organ is BECAUSE there wasn’t a real organ installed. When the NY Phil programmed works which did use organ, the present digital organ simply didn’t do the job. It looked great to have an organist playing but without there being a real organ installed, he seemed to be miming.

        As for the seating size, that’s also a matter of debate. A reconfigured hall with seating placed elsewhere – not necessarily behind the orchestra – might have been a much better way to go. This is still a dubious roll of the die and if it works, then great. But more likely, it will be seen as another sideways maneuver which improved some but made others much worse.

  • FrankUSA says:

    I think that is good news.

  • Tiff Poon says:

    Great. Now we can go hear the irrelevant and overhyped artists that live in a bubble.

  • Tamino says:

    Those ugly seat patterns. (pictures in NYPhil’s fb posts) Ughhh. Looks like being in the subway. Why?

  • James Scott says:

    The NY Philharmonic does not own their hall – very few orchestras do. They have probably been involved in much of the fundraising that made the renovation possible, but those funds are separate from their operating budget. It also would probably be illegal, and at least unethical to divert donations made specifically for this purpose into their operating budget which includes salaries. This is a win, because the hall renovation now coincides with Covid closures. They will be back in a brand new home space at the same time (hopefully) that audiences can return.