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Alan Gilbert to Leave the NY Philharmonic


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I missed the news from last Friday: Alan Gilbert announced that he will leave the NY Philharmonic in 2017, eight years after he took the position. He will help program the 2017-18 Biennial, according to this NPR report.

I feel that the orchestra needs someone to shepherd it through this upcoming hall renovation project and carry it through to its logical conclusion which is obviously the re-opening of the hall, and as the schedule has become more and more concrete, and more and more clear, that's not going to be — it's clear that, it's obvious, that's not going to be until 2021 at the earliest. That's six, seven years from now. I still have two and a half years on my current contract, and I just — it's not for me.

He also said,

The orchestra will have to find places to play, will have to figure out how to deal with its subscription audience, I mean there are a lot of — that's not only logistics, it becomes a philosophical question of what to do during the two years that the orchestra will not have a regular home to play.

The Avery Fisher Hall is supposed to go from 2019-21, and he pointed out this would give the new conductor a chance to forget relationships with the subscribers and donors. Since fundraising starts much earlier, the following makes sense for the subscriber and donor base,

Some observers predict that after a relatively adventurous Gilbert era, the Philharmonic will move in a more conservative direction. "It's about to gut Avery Fisher Hall. This is not the time for the New York Philharmonic to experiment," said Sedgwick Clark, the editor of Musical America, and a longtime Philharmonic concertgoer.

http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/new-york-philharmonic-next-music-director/?utm_source=Newsletter%3A+This+Week+In+WQXR&utm_campaign=674c651101-This_Week_on_WQXR_5_15_14_copy_01_5_22_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_aa1c2a6097-674c651101-66206777&mc_cid=674c651101&mc_eid=81482feaf0

however, with the orchestra homeless for two years, the forward-thinking Gilbert would have been perfect for utilizing unusual venues, as he did at the New York Armory.

The two biggest issues raised in the WQXR article are that most major conductors are locked into long-term contracts, and 2017 is very soon, and that it will be difficult to fill the concertmaster position, since the new conductor usually brings in his or her own concertmaster, and for anyone who doesn't want an interim job, it's not ideal.

I love the quote from Deborah Borda, though:

"The day you appoint your music director is when you start looking for your next music director," said Deborah Borda, the president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, repeating an industry adage. "The next music director of the New York Philharmonic has probably already been on the podium."
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I would guess that as a tenant company of Lincoln Center, the NY Philharmonic would have first dibs on that space, if they want it. It would certainly make it convenient for the subscribers.

2019 should be far enough away for Carnegie Hall to accommodate the orchestra, but I doubt they'll get that big a chunk of the CH calendar. I wonder if the NY Phil will tour locally, like the concert hall in Newark, the NJ performing arts center, and to college venues in New Jersey, Westchester, Rockland County, Long Island, Connecticut, etc. They could commission the kitted out rock-star buses.

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Carnegie has its own full roster of shows. There is not enough availability there to accommodate a full Philharmonic season, or even half a Philharmonic season. Maybe they should go to NY City Center, since most of the dance companies have abandoned that hall.

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Of course they couldn't take over Carnegie Hall for even half of a season or even a quarter or a tenth of a season. However, it is early enough that they should be able to fit in a group of concerts into their schedule and make it into a series. The Met Opera Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra have three-concert series; it's hardly a new idea. There's even a chance the orchestra could work with soloists instead of having individual recitals.

For example, this season there are two Perspectives series of four and six concerts each. There is a Composer-in-Residence series of six concerts. The orchestra has a composer-in-residence for two-season stints; perhaps the same composer could fill the role with both institutions. Perhaps the orchestra could be used for one of the Perspectives series. There are three scheduled for next season, two sets of six concerts and one of four.

I don't know how feasible it is to perform at the Met Opera on Sundays. There might be too much housekeeping and set-up for the following week's shows on the "off" day.

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The Rose Theaater, where Jazz at Lincoln Center performs, in generally underutilized. It's a few blocks from the main Lincoln Center campus, and it's in a shopping mall (the Time Warner Center), but the theater is very nice.

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When San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Opera were booted from War Memorial Opera House for a few years for a seismic infrastructure upgrade, SFO found what I remember were cavernous venues, but, except for a season-ending full-length at Zellerbach in Berkeley, SFB performed at the Palace of Fine Arts, which used to be next to the Exploratorium until it moved a couple of years ago, and at the Center for the Performing Arts at Yerba Buena Gardens. The websites list current seating capacity -- 962 for the former, 757 for the latter -- although there may have been slightly different configurations at the time. They performed a lot of mixed bill, chamber-sized works at those venues.

The Rose Theater specs are listed as:

  • Concert: 1233 - including 11 movable seating towers.
  • Theater: 1109

That's less than half of the 2738 that Avery Fisher holds. I was traveling a lot to the Bay Area for work at the time, and SFB's rep was heaven for me, but like most temporary moves to smaller or different venues -- PNB played in an old hockey rink during the old Opera House transformation to McCaw Hall, most of which addressed seismic issues -- it was a financial burden on the company. People don't like their subscription seats moved around and transferred, as PNB learned when they, twice in the last 20 years, kicked people out of their subscriptions because that night became the "new" opening night. At least, though, the Rose Theater was made for music, unlike the hockey rink or the Vancouver Playhouse, whose dry acoustics, wonderful for theater, are deadening for live music, despite having only 668 seats. Alice Tully Hall has 920. Maybe the silver lining of subscription numbers going down is that people are less tied to their seats. Getting the people to move even to Columbus Circle might prove to be a more difficult hurdle, plus losing the ritual in-house restaurant.

Depending on the negotiations with the unions, the orchestra might be able to adjust to smaller venues by focusing on music with lighter orchestration, original orchestrations, and smaller groupings while keeping Haydn-Mozart-Romantic composers in the rep. If the soloist community is willing, they can do rep outside the recital/trio/quartet and big concerto standards, and those big names can lure people into the theaters.

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Looks like the Plaza will now have two theaters named David.

"I'm heading off to Lincoln Center now."

"Where to? the David K?"

"No, no - tonight's show is at the David G."

Maybe the Lincoln Center folks could persuade another billionaire David to throw some bucks the Met's way and give the Plaza a David three-peat or hat trick or whatever.

Perhaps David Tepper will step up to the plate. He's relatively small potatoes as billionaires go (with a net worth of $10.4 billion, he's only #121 in the Forbes rankings), but he does live nearby in Livingston NJ.

I suppose I understand the desire to have your name in big letters on the side of a marble building, but I wish that just once one of these guy would say "Oh, no, thanks! I'd like the building to be named after [fill in name of groundbreaking artist, eminent humanitarian, or inspiring leader here]."

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It took a lot of negotiations over a long period of time and a payoff to get the heirs of Avery Fisher to consent to a renaming of the hall. Those heirs were the impediment that stood in the way of gaining the capital needed to fund the renovation for a long time.

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Looks like the Plaza will now have two theaters named David.

"I'm heading off to Lincoln Center now."

"Where to? the David K?"

"No, no - tonight's show is at the David G."

Maybe the Lincoln Center folks could persuade another billionaire David to throw some bucks the Met's way and give the Plaza a David three-peat or hat trick or whatever.

Perhaps David Tepper will step up to the plate. He's relatively small potatoes as billionaires go (with a net worth of $10.4 billion, he's only #121 in the Forbes rankings), but he does live nearby in Livingston NJ.

I suppose I understand the desire to have your name in big letters on the side of a marble building, but I wish that just once one of these guy would say "Oh, no, thanks! I'd like the building to be named after [fill in name of groundbreaking artist, eminent humanitarian, or inspiring leader here]."

David Beckham?

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I suppose I understand the desire to have your name in big letters on the side of a marble building, but I wish that just once one of these guy would say "Oh, no, thanks! I'd like the building to be named after [fill in name of groundbreaking artist, eminent humanitarian, or inspiring leader here]."

Kidding aside, I was pleased (and honestly, rather surprised) when a local group donated enough money to the Seattle Art Museum to secure a chunk of land for an outdoor sculpture park, and insisted it be named for the mountains you can see in the distance rather than themselves. The Olympic Sculpture Park is a lovely place to spend time in downtown Seattle, not only because of its name (the permanent collection is pretty spiffy), but that certainly makes my time there more special.

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