David Geffen’s $100 million gift buys naming rights at Avery Fisher

Wed Mar 04, 2015 at 2:53 pm
Avery Fisher Hall will be renamed David Geffen Hall with the start of the 2015-16 season.

Avery Fisher Hall will be renamed David Geffen Hall with the start of the 2015-16 season.

Lincoln Center announced Wednesday that Avery Fisher Hall will be renamed David Geffen Hall, after David Geffen, a New York–born film and music executive and philanthropist who has pledged $100 million towards the concert hall’s planned renovation. According to the New York Times, the agreement stipulates that the hall will bear Geffen’s name in perpetuity.

The change of name will become official with the start of the New York Philharmonic’s 2015–2016 season.  “This remarkable gift by David Geffen allows Lincoln Center to move forward with the transformation of our concert hall,” said Lincoln Center president Jed Bernstein in a press release. He said the gift also “ensures that it will continue to be a world-class home for the Philharmonic and a wide variety of other artists and live performances.”

Opened in 1962 as Philharmonic Hall, the New York Philharmonic’s home has been known as Avery Fisher Hall since 1973, when it was renamed in honor of philanthropist Avery Fisher. Lincoln Center announced in November that the organization had reached an agreement with Fisher’s children to remove Fisher’s name from the building in return for a consideration of $15 million. This would allow the hall’s naming rights to be resold as part of a $500 million fundraising drive to finance an extensive renovation.

Beset by acoustical problems since it opened, the hall has been renovated twice in its history, in 1976 and 1992. The latest renovation, originally announced in 2004, is scheduled to begin in 2019, and will force the Philharmonic to leave its home for two seasons. The renovation will include an extensive redesign of the building’s interior and, like the previous renovations, will aim to improve the hall’s acoustics.

“We applaud David Geffen for making possible the creation of a dynamic, new home for the New York Philharmonic here at Lincoln Center, something so paramount in helping us achieve our vision of an Orchestra for the 21st Century,” said Philharmonic president Matthew VanBesien. “We look forward to working together with Lincoln Center to create a revitalized hall that will allow us to imagine new possibilities, reflecting the way in which our art form and audiences are evolving, and that will inspire the great legacy of musicians and artists who will grace its stage.”

Geffen is best known as a record and Hollywood executive. He has produced recordings by artists including Cher, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, and Elton John, and produced such films as Interview with the Vampire and Little Shop of Horrors, as well as the TV series Beetlejuice. He has previously supported other arts organizations, and made a major gift to UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

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