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NYCB Opening Night Benefit - American Music


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The press release:

NEW YORK CITY BALLET’S OPENING NIGHT BENEFIT

ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25

TO MARK FIRST PERFORMANCE IN

NEWLY NAMED DAVID H. KOCH THEATER

One-Time-Only Gala Performance to Showcase American Music

Featuring Singers from the New York City Opera and the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra

____________________________________________________________________________

New York City Ballet’s annual Opening Night Benefit will be held on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 7 p.m. and will feature an evening of ballets set to American music by such composers as Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Charles Ives, Wynton Marsalis, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, and Ray Charles.

The gala evening will also mark the first performance in the newly named David H. Koch Theater, and for the occasion Mr. Koch and his wife Julia will serve as honorary chairmen for the evening. Chairmen for the event are Carol and Earle Mack and Whitney and Clarke Murphy.

The theater is being named in honor of Mr. Koch who recently made a $100 million gift to support the capital campaign for the theater, previously known as the New York State Theater, which is home to both New York City Ballet and New York City Opera. The theater, which opened its doors in 1964, is currently undergoing a major renovation, with the initial phase due for completion in the fall of 2009.

As part of this special evening, Peter Martins, Ballet Master in Chief of NYCB, has invited the New York City Opera to take part in this inaugural performance in the David H. Koch Theater. The program will open with Martins’ Chichester Psalms, to the music of Leonard Bernstein, which will feature the New York City Opera Chorus. City Opera soloists will also appear in excerpts from Jerome Robbins’ Ives, Songs and George Balanchine’s Who Cares?, and George Manahan, City Opera’s Music Director, will conduct the NYCB Orchestra in excerpts from Balanchine’s Ivesiana and Martins’ Calcium Light Night, both to music by Charles Ives.

Other works featured on the program include excerpts from Martins’ Barber Violin Concerto, Jazz (Six Syncopated Movements), and A Fool for You, as well as Susan Stroman’s “Blossom Got Kissed” from Duke!, NYCB’s Duke Ellington tribute which premiered in 1999.

The performances of Jazz (Six Syncopated Movements), “Rockhouse” from A Fool for You, and “Blossom Got Kissed,” will feature music performed by the acclaimed Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, which is comprised of students from The Juilliard School’s prestigious jazz program, which is a collaboration between Juilliard and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Performance-only tickets for the Opening Night Benefit are priced from $20 to $100 and are currently available at www.nycballet.com, through CenterCharge at 212-721-6500, or at the theater’s box office.

Gala tickets, which include a pre-performance cocktail reception, the performance, and a black-tie supper ball following the performance, are also available by calling the NYCB Special Events Office at 212-870-5585.

Following the Opening Night Benefit, NYCB will hold its annual holiday season of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, November 28 through January 3, followed by the Winter Repertory Season, January 6 through March 1, 2009.

The theater is located on the Lincoln Center Plaza at Columbus Avenue at 63rd Street. For general information on tickets for any New York City Ballet performance, call 212-870-5570, or visit www.nycballet.com.

Chichester Psalms was made possible in part by a generous contribution from The Irene Diamond Fund.

Ivesiana was made possible in part through a generous contribution from Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.

The creation and performance of works by Peter Martins is funded in part by an endowment gift from the Solomon family, given in loving memory of Carolyn B. Solomon.

New York City Ballet's performances of ballets by George Balanchine are supported in part by the Balanchine Production Fund, an endowment created through The Campaign for New York City Ballet.

NEW YORK CITY BALLET

Opening Night Benefit

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 7 p.m.

Chichester Psalms

Music by Leonard Bernstein

Choreography by Peter Martins

Featuring the New York City Opera Chorus

Barber Violin Concerto (excerpt)

Music by Samuel Barber

Choreography by Peter Martins

Ives, Songs (excerpt)

Music by Charles Ives

Choreography by Jerome Robbins

Featuring a soloist from the New York City Opera

Ivesiana (excerpt)

Music by Charles Ives

Choreography by George Balanchine

NYCB Orchestra conducted by George Manahan,

Music Director of the New York City Opera

Calcium Light Night (excerpt)

Music by Charles Ives

Choreography by Peter Martins

NYCB Orchestra conducted by George Manahan,

Music Director of the New York City Opera

Intermission

Jazz (Six Syncopated Movements) (excerpt)

Music by Wynton Marsalis

Choreography by Peter Martins

Featuring the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra

A Fool for You (excerpts)

Rockhouse* - Music by Ray Charles

Hit the Road Jack - Music by Percy Mayfield

It Should’ve Been Me - Music by Memphis Curtis

Choreography by Peter Martins

*Featuring the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra

Blossom Got Kissed (from Duke!)

Music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn

Choreography by Susan Stroman

Featuring the Julliard Jazz Orchestra

Who Cares? (excerpts)

The Man I Love* and I Got Rhythm

Music by George Gershwin

Choreography by George Balanchine

*Featuring a soloist from the New York City Opera

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Is anyone else dismayed by this program as an opener? I understand and applaud the effort to get NYCO on board, but what about Liebesleider excerpts? Why is there so little Balanchine? I think ABT does more Balanchine than NYCB. And in the economic climate we are in, where I'm giving extra thought on whether I want to spend money on a night at the ballet -- even after being a fan for over 40 years -- I find that I don't even want to sit through this program much less pay for it.

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I will be there, and, as always, look forward to the gala. Sure, it seems like a quirky program (too much Martins, not enough

Balanchine and Robbins), but why criticize it before the fact? Nor do I think it's disrespectful to Balanchine (or for that matter, Robbins).

Was it disrespectful to include Balanchine in the Robbins celebration last season? Not at all. There's always plenty of Balanchine at NYCB, as there should be.

Or perhaps my idea of "plenty" is different from others; I respect that. However, let's not overreact to one gala program. Haven't we all had enough "negatives" this year? (see: politics, the economy, the wars etc.). Not to sound too much like a cheerleader, but I'm celebrating the fact that NYCB is soon to be back at Lincoln Center where they belong. Hooray (she says, pom-poms waving:;)!

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I'm celebrating that Suite #3 and Divert #15 will be back!! Also Chaconne and Stravinsky Violin Concerto (casting pending). I'd very much like to see Mearns give Chaconne a try.

For a *Gala* there is far too much Martins, unless this season we are celebrating Peter Martins' legacy for some reason.

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I will be there, and, as always, look forward to the gala. Sure, it seems like a quirky program (too much Martins, not enough

Balanchine and Robbins), but why criticize it before the fact? Nor do I think it's disrespectful to Balanchine (or for that matter, Robbins).

Was it disrespectful to include Balanchine in the Robbins celebration last season? Not at all. There's always plenty of Balanchine at NYCB, as there should be.

Or perhaps my idea of "plenty" is different from others; I respect that. However, let's not overreact to one gala program. Haven't we all had enough "negatives" this year? (see: politics, the economy, the wars etc.). Not to sound too much like a cheerleader, but I'm celebrating the fact that NYCB is soon to be back at Lincoln Center where they belong. Hooray (she says, pom-poms waving:;)!

Mostly agree with this, don't think it's actually 'disrespectful' at all, because I think the American Music theme is excellent (that's why no 'Liebeslieder', bobbi). Except that I don't want to go because don't care to see the Mostly Martins either. In any case, I'd rather see Basically Balanchine, but it got me to thinking that I can't think of that many Balanchine dances to American music. There's 'Fancy Free' and 'Slaughter on 10th Avenue' and 'Stars and Stripes' (they should have used this probably), as well as the ones up there, and there must be many more. Someone refresh me please on this. 'Square Dance' is Vivaldi, I think. I can't stand 'Calcium Light Night', but I don't expect Peter to feel that way about his own works, and it's just one performance. Deborah is also right that NYCB does always do a lot of Balanchine, that's why people support the company. They don't do more at ABT.

The other awful thing about the programming is 3--count 'em--3 CHARLES IVES pieces. That is, I suppose, meant to be imaginative programming with the 3 choreographers all to Ives that most people don't want to hear nearly that much of. I don't think it's disrespectful, DeborahB, but I'm afraid I'm negative too, because I just think it's mostly a horrible program! :P Didn't anybody choreograph anything to Cage or Copland or Carter? One more Robbins and one less Martins woudn't have hurt either, maybe some of the 'west side story'. Ballet has probably not provided nearly as many opportunities for American composers as has modern dance, with all those beautiful American scores used by Martha Graham, for example, but there surely must have been a better way to do it than this. I also don't think they've used NYCO enough. The second half is far better than the first, and I like that they're using the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra.

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Opening Night, Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This was the poorest program I have ever experienced at NYCB.

After the first piece, the Ballet-Master-in-Chief came out to thank Mr. Koch (as in Coke) for the $100,000,000. BMiC recalled that three times in the Company's history a vodka toast had been made to someone, the first being by Mr. Balachine to Lincoln Kirstein, then to Mr. Balanchine and to Mr. Robbins, and that just as worthy was Mr. Koch. But this time, due to "the times", the audience would not get any. We were asked to stand as BMiC and Mr. (and Mrs.) Koch (in Lincoln's seats, that BMiC said he could have forever, unless he would prefer to have Mr. Balanchine's [odd, didn't Mr. B sit on a stool in the wings?--maybe he said Robbins's?]) took a swig of vodka. People all around me stood, but I did not. I don't think that a rich man's buying his name on a building rates with giving America the art of ballet, or creating streams of masterworks.

The Martins-Koch g(is their a g smaller than lower case?)ala started with Lenny Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. This year NYC is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the great conductor's birth, with perhaps a hundred classical concerts (perhaps overkill, as a stream of e-mails offering discount tickets arrives). This work starts out with a hint of ordinary theatrical Bernstein, but then something that seems deeper, and even profoundly spiritual, starts coming through, that seems to find a perfect channel through lead ballerina Sara A. Mearns, partnered by Jared Angle. She, together with the composer made this a rather moving experience, if not, perhaps, the stuff of galas. There is a large corps, and a number of the dancers seemed taken by the music as well. Binoculars were a must, since corps, like soloist and principal parts, is not an area of choreographic strength for the BMiC. Kathryn Morgan was a vision of beauty, and Erica Pereira as if an angel pouring forth from the score. Bravi to Faycal Karoui and the City Opera's chorus. Next Darci Kistler and Albert Evans danced the adagio from Martins's Barber Violin Concerto. We love you, Darci, and still remember when...

The program's first half concluded with an Ives fest. First a couple of Robbins's Ives Songs, In Summer Fields danced by a very pretty Rachel Rutherford with Philip Neal, followed by Wendy Whelan, looking so tiny and vulnerable next to Charles Askegard, in There is a Lane. But then came his intense composition The Unanswered Question, that obviously is Mr. Balanchine's answer to where the Ballerina from Serenade goes as we see her borne off stage. Four men carry Janie Taylor onstage to Daniel Ulbricht. Barefoot, she never touches the floor. Yet, give Balanchine a woman and you have Ballerina. This pair was thrilling. At one point she is lowered feet forward to Mr. Ulbricht; simply, her toes curl and quickly uncurl. The Ballerina is dancing. Later, in one final dip over Mr. Ulbricht, prone on his back, her hair brushes his right cheek. And she is gone, this Janie-of-the-dancing-hair... and toes. The trio concludes with the writing duet from Mr. Martins's Calcium Light Night, with Sterling Hyltin in the Heather Watts role, partnered by Sean Suozzi. How promising this seemed at its debut. Who would have known that the first idea would be the last?

The second half was a Martins jazz-fest, ending with (and almost killing) some of Mr. Balanchine's Who Cares. The first two pieces were so deadly boring (and included a total waste of Ashley Bouder's only appearance (in bangs, yet), what a way to treat a Prima Ballerina), I won't even mention the dancers whose talent was both hidden and squandered. More waste matter from Susan Stroman. Then poor Jenifer Ringer (but so wonderful to see her back from baby leave) had to dance Balanchine's The Man I Love to a gimmick: horribly sung by a soprano, with piano accompaniment. Perhaps it doesn't matter to some master choreographers, but music seemed to have mattered to Mr. B. The evening's second gross insult to Mr. Balanchine. You know it wasn't Ms. Ringer that left the audience sitting on its hands... The music Balanchine used came back for the I Got Rhythm finale that was dominated by the dancing all-out, blond hair flailing, Theresa Reichlen.

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The egotism of the wealthy and the sponsorships and the way the companies suck up to them (deep pockets) is completely off putting to say the least.

I recall contacting ABT about a project I wanted to get going which would be an exhibit of photos of ballet... the best of the best. Of course since I wasn't offering them any money I was told it was impossible because of "union" and contract barriers. ABT was constrained in the use of any images taken by photographers of their artists, especially ones which were used for publicity.

Well lo and behold last year Nancy Ellison comes along with a coffee table book for ABT following on her's for the Met Opera. What made this happen? I am told she and her husband donated $1MM to the MetOpera and who know how much to ABT???

While I am thrilled that people support the arts, I am not thrilled how the well heeled are doing it and massaging their bloated egos in the process.

Where there is money, you'll be sure to find ugliness.

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I attended the gala last night. In view of the constant construction at the Koch Theater over the past few months, I was expecting to see some changes in the theater. The only change I noticed is that the seat cushions were replaced. Peter Martins, during his curtain speech, noted that the cushions are temporary, and will be replaced next year. This was a relief, since the red color of the new cushions did not match the red color of the old seat backs. The first of two curtain speeches was delivered by Peter Martins, where he sang the praises of David Koch. The second curtain speech was delivered by someone from the NY Arts Council (sorry, I missed the name), and he was joined by New York's Senior Senator, Chuck Schumer (spell?). They sang the praises of Koch as well.

On to the ballet. There was way too much of Peter Martins' choreography on this program- too much of a bad thing. For me, the highlight was Balanchine's Unanswered Question w. Janie Taylor and Ulbricht. The other highlight was The Man I Love w. Jennifer Ringer, who looked radiant and danced brilliantly. Her partner, Nilas Martins, looked out of breath by the end. I agree w. the post above the Lauren Flanigan's rendition of the song was less than thrilling.

The audience was bombarded with excerpts of various mediocre works of Peter Martins (Calcium Light Night, Barber Violin Concerto, Jazz , and several others). These works all looked very similar. The best was the pas w. Maria K. and Sebastian M. to Jazz. They delivered a sensuous and well danced performance.

As noted above, the vast talents of Ashley Bouder were wasted. She did some simplistic ensemble work in one of the Jazz excerpts. Love the bangs though!

I wonder what David Koch is now thinking about the renovation of the theater since the person who most wanted to proceed with the project, Gerard Mortier, has quit City Opera.

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Wow! I am very surprised at the snarky, and mean-spirited (sorry, but that's how it comes across) comments about David Koch's incredibly generous gift. It's 100 million dollars! Sure, he's rich (well, loaded really) but he didn't have to do it! And this longtime (32 years) NYCB fan is extremely grateful for his magnanimity . And yes, I stood (and had a clear vision of the Koch's from our seats. We splurge on gala seats because it's our small contribution to "my" beloved company) and toasted him with pleasure. In my book the man is a mentsch -- pure and simple.

As for the program -- it was, as others have described, lacking. Oh but the dancers! Having attended almost everything at City Center this fall -- and enjoying almost all if it (especially Morphoses and San Francisco Ballet), I was thrilled to see the NYCB in fine form (with a few exceptions). The holiday season has officially begun -- NYCB is back at Lincoln Center ( And frankly, I don't care what the theater is called: New York State, David Koch, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein -- it's just a name).

Let me also take this time to wish everyone at Ballet Talk a most Happy Thanksgiving!

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After the first piece, the Ballet-Master-in-Chief came out to thank Mr. Koch (as in Coke) for the $100,000,000. BMiC recalled that three times in the Company's history a vodka toast had been made to someone, the first being by Mr. Balachine to Lincoln Kirstein, then to Mr. Balanchine and to Mr. Robbins, and that just as worthy was Mr. Koch. But this time, due to "the times", the audience would not get any. We were asked to stand as BMiC and Mr. (and Mrs.) Koch (in Lincoln's seats, that BMiC said he could have forever, unless he would prefer to have Mr. Balanchine's [odd, didn't Mr. B sit on a stool in the wings?--maybe he said Robbins's?]) took a swig of vodka.

This IS a vulgar spectacle, and typical of Informal Staging by Martins for big in-house performance-parties. The "due to the times, the audience won't get any" is tacky beyond belief. I think Martins really believes people masochistically respond to his mediocrity. In 2004, at the Balanchine Birthday Celebration, the company was onstage with Martins and Barbara Horgan with a huge cake. Martins said "We wish we could have you all come up on stage, but we CAN'T." Well, of course they CAN'T (but neither did they WISH it), but that's no excuse for making a rude noise, overt snobbism can be so tedious, especially when directed to your own supporters. There were vodka and Payard Patisserie sweets for the audience in 2004, and if there are not now 'because of the times', then there is no reason to say anything like that to the audience. Nobody with any self-respect wants to hear such things, and it would have gone without saying. Does he know anything at all about understatement?

However, as far as Mr. KOCH is concerned, I agree totally with Deborah B., except that it's no longer 'my beloved company' by a long shot. They are nowhere near the greatness they used to be. But I agree that her main point--'he didn't have to do it'--is spot on. When things can't get funding at all these days, I cannot see any reason why one should be other than thoroughly grateful for such a benefactor. So what if he's like Alice Tully and Lila Acheson Wallace and doesn't want his gift to be anonymous? Not everybody who is generous is also modest.

Wow! I am very surprised at the snarky, and mean-spirited (sorry, but that's how it comes across) comments about David Koch's incredibly generous gift. It's 100 million dollars! Sure, he's rich (well, loaded really) but he didn't have to do it! And this longtime (32 years) NYCB fan is extremely grateful for his magnanimity . And yes, I stood (and had a clear vision of the Koch's from our seats. We splurge on gala seats because it's our small contribution to "my" beloved company) and toasted him with pleasure. In my book the man is a mentsch -- pure and simple.

The program does sound mostly drear.

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I am very surprised at the snarky, and mean-spirited (sorry, but that's how it comes across) comments about David Koch's incredibly generous gift.
But I agree that her main point--'he didn't have to do it'--is spot on. When things can't get funding at all these days, I cannot see any reason why one should be other than thoroughly grateful for such a benefactor. So what if he's like Alice Tully and Lila Acheson Wallace and doesn't want his gift to be anonymous? Not everybody who is generous is also modest.

$100 million is chump change to the Koch family, although that may not be as true as it was in light of recent events. Koch does have to do it, or something like it, if his social ambitions and his wife’s, which have been well documented, are to be fulfilled. It’s the way of the world, of course, but one can reasonably snark at Koch having his name put on the theater and drinking in the the self-interested flattery served up by suppliants like Martins and Schumer. Of course, this is how things happen to work in our second Gilded Age, now apparently on the verge of a crackup, and certainly it’s not the first time a rich person has demanded such recognition, but it’s not a very attractive spectacle, either.

(Nor is there any special reason to applaud Koch personally, IMO. He’s not an innovator or a self made man, and Koch Industries is not a particularly admirable corporate entity even by the sometimes dubious standards of big companies in the oil and related businesses.)

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Koch does have to do it, or something like it, if his social ambitions and his wife’s, which have been well documented, are to be fulfilled.

quote]Nor is there any special reason to applaud Koch personally, IMO. He’s not an innovator or a self made man, and Koch Industries is not a particularly admirable corporate entity even by the sometimes dubious standards of big companies in the oil and related businesses.)

Well-documented? If so, by whom? This sounds like gossip to me.

Nor do I think it's right (at least for me) to judge Mr. Koch's attributes as a businessman, nor whether his company is an "admirable corporate entity."

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I continue to be surprised that this sort of gift is met with such cynicism (and yes, snarkiness).

I do applaud Mr. Koch for his astounding generosity.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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I took a 3-day seminar at Jacob's Pillow the summer of 1986 for people interested in arts management for dance, and one of the first things that Sam Miller, then General Manager for Pilobolous, later head of Jacob's Pillow, said to us was that the big money for the arts comes from oil and tobacco, and if we had a problem with wjere money comes from, we shouldn't consider a career in arts management.

Presumably Mr. Koch will come through with the money; Mr. Vilar didn't.

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Well-documented? If so, by whom? This sounds like gossip to me.

Nor do I think it's right (at least for me) to judge Mr. Koch's attributes as a businessman, nor whether his company is an "admirable corporate entity."

Alas, DeborahB, I do not run in circles where people would be likely to engage in gossip about the Kochs. The extracurricular activities of the couple are chronicled in a variety of publications.

I took a 3-day seminar at Jacob's Pillow the summer of 1986 for people interested in arts management for dance, and one of the first things that Sam Miller, then General Manager for Pilobolous, later head of Jacob's Pillow, said to us was that the big money for the arts comes from oil and tobacco, and if we had a problem with wjere money comes from, we shouldn't consider a career in arts management.

As I noted above, it's the way of the world.

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It's 100 million dollars! Sure, he's rich (well, loaded really) but he didn't have to do it! And this longtime (32 years) NYCB fan is extremely grateful for his magnanimity .

I agree that this is and should be much appreciated money, particularly in these economic times. I just wish that donors didn't feel the need to plaster their names on things.

As an aside it will be funny to see how the name is pronounced!

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$100 million is chump change to the Koch family,

$100 million is not chump change to billionaires, is it? For several, it's like a tithe... $1 million or maybe even $10 million, but not $100 million.

Koch does have to do it, or something like it if his social ambitions and his wife’s, which have been well documented, are to be fulfilled.

There's the rub, the 'something like it'. He did this and not something else. I don't care that much why.

(Nor is there any special reason to applaud Koch personally, IMO. He’s not an innovator or a self made man, and Koch Industries is not a particularly admirable corporate entity even by the sometimes dubious standards of big companies in the oil and related businesses.)

I don't know about Koch industries (although please inform if you do have some interesting facts), which is the only part of this that I think would be relevant to whether his gift is non-applaudable (I don't know that enough about him personally to 'like' him or not. But he's clearly not Frances Schreuder, slipping onto NYCB board and using Mormon blood money to finance Balanchine masterpieces (Lord, that's still the weirdest story I nearly ever heard.). And it's never important that a benefactor be a self-made man or innovator. Otherwise, nobody would ever applaud the queen of England--she's done a good job but is hardly an innovator or self-made--and I saw people applaud her when she walked out on the balcony of the Koch Theater... :P

I second Deborah's Happy Thanksgiving!

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There are rich men and rich men. Lincoln Kirstein comes to mind.

All businessmen who are self made aren't necessarily admirable - but yes, I'm inclined to give a few brownie points to people who had the original bright idea that made all the dough. (Kirstein inherited his big bucks, too, but the family seems to have been nicer.)

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On the whole, dirac, I'm with you on the philanthropy issue, and I also agree with your reference to our "second Gilded Age." But even Andrew Carnegie -- who ended up giving away most of his fortune and left us Carnegie Hall, the Carnegie Endowment, and a host of libraries around the country -- was an old pirate on the way up.

There are worse things Mr. Koch could have done with $100 million, no matter how it was acquired. Anyway, isn't it true that donors usually want their names on things, whether a theater, a hospital, inclusion in the donor lists in programs, or a colored paper cutout of a balloon posted at the neighborhood food market? Anonymous is better, but that doesn't make it popular.

I've been trying to remember where I saw, in the past 2 days, an article which discussed the difficulty some of the mega-wealthy are having in keeping up with their charitable pledges. Koch was quoted as saying he would honor the full $100 mllion for the State Theater but would have to cut future donations due to the economy.

kfw raises a good question: how long will it take for people to begin calling the State Theater the Koch? People who remember Ed Koch will have a hard time pronouncing it the new way, even if they try.

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Wikipedia has a fair overview of Koch Industries, tallgrass prairie restoration and benzine spills and all. It's always good to know a little about what sort of financial portico one enters the temple of art through. In my case I wouldn't mind a few more years' familiarity with the silver grey gaffers tape on the stairways.

As far as the scarcity of Balanchine pieces on the Gala program, look at it this way: There will be fewer of Peter Martins' stories about Mr B., in which Balanchine shrinks and shrinks and almost vanishes into nothing in the telling.

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