David Geffen Hall gets a $50m Wu Tsai space

David Geffen Hall gets a $50m Wu Tsai space


norman lebrecht

August 04, 2022

While the Lincoln Center’s concert hall is named after the music mogul David Geffen who gave $100 million, the main auditorium is to be known as the Wu Tsai Theater.

Joseph Tsai, Taiwanese founder of the Chinese e-shop Alibaba, has given $50m for the naming, together with his Kansas-born wife Clara, who is a member of the Lincoln Center board.


  • Henry williams says:

    It is a shame that money does not go to helping the poor.

    • Sisko24 says:

      Perhaps there isn’t enough money going to the poor. And perhaps it isn’t completely efficiently or effectively spent, but money does go to helping the poor.

    • MacroV says:

      I’m all for helping the poor. Maybe Kyrsten Sinema will agree to eliminating the Carried Interest loophole and we’ll get billions more tax revenue to fund more of a social safety net.

    • don says:

      these types of comments are probably the most ignorant, pathetic and annoying of all. “Elon could solve world hunger instead of buying twitter, why give money to arts instead of poor” blah blah blah. so dumb. This is a wonderful way to donate money and it should be applauded. I bet they help the poor too…

  • BigSir says:

    Wealthy people who support the arts are becoming fewer. Joseph and Clara Tsai deserve an enthusiastic thank you!

  • Sisko24 says:

    This whole redoing of Avery Fisher Hall is a huge missed opportunity. If I were in control of things, I’d rename the building to “Philharmonic Hall”. The auditorium would’ve been renamed to “Leonard Bernstein Auditorium”, the stage to “Aaron Copland Stage” and there would also have been a large concert pipe organ re-installed there and it would’ve been named as the “Kurt Masur Memorial Concert Organ”. But alas, no such luck. I told my parents and grandparents (when I was four), I’m a genius without honor in my own country….or words to that effect. That’s sadly true all these many years later….

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Would that the world worked that way. If you gave the money, you could have complete say. Not saying it’s fair…

      We should just be grateful that under the system the US has for funding the arts we have generous people like Clara and Joseph Tsai.

    • Stephen Owades says:

      “If [you] were in control of things,” the hall would not have been redone at all, since it was the money from David Geffen’s naming gift that made the work possible. If you were in charge *and* had unlimited, no-strings-attached money available, you could make such choices, but the directors of Lincoln Center didn’t have that luxury.

      When the Tanglewood campus was expanded by the gift of the adjoining Highwood estate, the Boston Symphony set out to build a second, smaller concert hall there. A generous gift from then–Sony Chairman Norio Ohga was procured. The BSO wanted to name the new hall after Leonard Bernstein, but Mr Ohga insisted it be called Seiji Ozawa Hall—and it was. Money talks, and management has to listen.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Actually, while Mr. Geffen’s gift spurred on the project, an additional $450 million was raised to complete the $550 million renovation.

        There are any generous donors in New York.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Correction…There are Many generous donors in New York.

  • Sisko24 says:

    Notice this venue is no longer calling itself a ‘concert hall’, but instead it is calling itself a ‘theatre’. This is not going to end well.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      It’s all semantics…agreed, it would probably have been better to say auditorium, but there may be other spaces they need to differentiate.

      No need to get your knickers in a twist. Tout va bien.

      New Yorkers are grateful for the renovation.

    • Nick2 says:

      You cannot have a David Geffen Concert Hall and another name attached to it as a Concert Hall. That is surely self-evident.

      • Anon says:

        Have you ever been to Carnegie Hall to attend a concert in Stern Auditorium where performers play on the Perelman Stage?

  • Fisher was a genius says:

    Fisher did a huge amount for Classical music, on the back of especially his marvellous hifi systems.
    His amplifiers were so fantastic Sylvania and Westinghouse actually designed components for his wonderful 1000 model amps…..

    “The Fisher SA-1000 is a legendary tube amplifier – right up there on the “Holy Grail” list of HiFi pieces that every audiophile must own at some point.
    This list includes items like the Quad ESL57, Rogers LS3/5A,”

    1963 – USD $329.50
    2019 – USD $8,539.00 (via usinflationcalculator website)

    I don’t think the original dedicace of the “Fisher hall” has ever been beaten for his contribution to music, I don’t care how much money or PR or BS, they want to throw at it.

  • GCMP says:

    The Chicago Symphony built Orchestra Hall and after Theodore Thomas died shortly after rehearsing the first concert there it was named the Theodore Thomas Memorial Orchestra Hall and such is inscribed on the outer walls. One of the renovations in the 1960s resulted in the auditorium inside being named for Sylvain Wyler. So when it was renovated yet again (and we ended up with Symphony Center), and Mrs. A. Watson Armour III wanted to donate $50 million, all that was left was to name the stage! However, donors of lesser amounts got spaces/locations named (The Fadim Balcony) but with guarantees of the name only for set periods of time, no more perpetual namings…. Wonder if anything like that is in place for NYPO.

  • Lady Louise says:

    Not to flog a dead horse, but it’s a shame the original sculpture Richard Lippold specifically designed for the hall back in the sixties (Apollo & Orpheus), removed for cleaning in 2014, will be displayed at La Guardia Airport, in Queens going forward. Isn’t there a single billionaire left with an eye on historic preservation?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Seems to me that the sculpture has been preserved and will now be seen by a much larger audience in an expanded and renovated international transportation hub.

      If all in situ works of art were preserved in the spaces for which they were intended, no major museum in the world would exist.

  • Herbie G says:

    I believe that everyone who has posted on this thread has made a valid point. Nevertheless, the most generous donors to any charitable cause are the general public – millions of anonymous men and women who give money without conditions attached just because they believe in the cause and wish to support it. For them, the only pleasure they get from it is the knowledge that it helps someone else.

    With that in mind, I find the practice of someone insisting that displaying their name somewhere as a condition of donating is utterly reprehensible. It’s the province of the super-rich, to whom a donation of 50 million pounds (dollars or euros maybe) is equivalent to my treating a friend to a meal. They are obsessed with plastering their names over all kinds of institutions so that we all touch our forelocks when we enter and show obeisance to the generous benefactor, without whom we would not be there.

    If anyone wished to name any new musical venue in, say, the USA, there are plenty of great deceased musicians who were born or worked there that might deserve it – whether or not it has been used elsewhere: Charles Ives, George Gershwin, Michael Rabin, Carl Ruggles (controversial, maybe), Paul Creston, Edward Macdowell, Van Cliburn, Eugene List, Arturo Toscanini, Eugene Ormandy – and dozens more.

    Yes, there’s an argument that anyone arrogant enough to want their name writ large at a venue to which they have donated shedloads of money should be allowed to have their way as a gesture of gratitude – without them, it wouldn’t exist. If we accepted that in principle, then next time the Juilliard School needs renovation and a donor steps in, you might find it re-named the George Soros School of Music. ‘Looking for the Met sir? When were you last here? It’s now the Donald Trump Opera House.’ Covent Garden? Don’t you mean the Branson Opera House? If that all seems fantasy, you might soon find yourself in Germany settling down for a concert in the Rattle Konzerthaus. Must go now or I’ll be late for a concert at the Bernie Madoff Hall.