By Stephanie Powell
Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, home to the New York Philharmonic, has announced that entertainment industry mogul David Geffen will fund the renovation for its new concert hall to the tune of $100 million. The hall will be named David Geffen Hall.
As the New York Times reports, Geffen gifted the hall $100 million to go toward the $500 million renovation project and, in return, the Fisher family agreed to relinquish its name. Geffen’s contribution will be paid out over an eight-year period.
The building will become David Geffen Hall this September—timed with the start of the Philharmonic’s 2015-16 season—and construction is slated to begin in 2019.Last month, New York Phil music director Alan Gilbert announced his departure in 2017, saying a new leader should “carry the organization through to the opening of the hall.”
Geffen’s acquisition of the esteemed hall’s namesake has been met with mixed reviews. He is renowned for his work in Los Angeles—from founding DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg to fostering the careers of rock musicians such as the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, and Nirvana. But many question his lack of history in the classical music world and his West Coast ties that span an entire career.
Geffen stressed to the Times that he is “a kid from Brooklyn” and that he “watched them build this building.” He has owned an apartment on Fifth Avenue since 1976 and considers himself an “arts junkie” with a love for classical music for those who question his credentials.
The hall was built in 1962—originally under the moniker Philharmonic Hall—and transformed into Avery Fisher Hall after a $10 million donation from Fisher Electronics founder andamateur violinist Avery Fisher in 1973.
Leaders of Lincoln Center, including Katherine G. Farley, the center’s chairwoman, reached out to Geffen in November 2014.
“Lincoln Center is so thrilled to have David’s name associated with this hall,” Farley told the New York Times. “It could not be better.”
Matthew VanBesien, the Philharmonic’s executive director, told the Times that the gift was “generous and inspiring” and that the orchestra was made aware of the changes “at the appropriate time.”