Lincoln Center Launches 50th Anniversary Celebration At The Starr Theater 5/11

Lincoln Center Launches 50th Anniversary Celebration At The Starr Theater 5/11

Today, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts officially launches a yearlong celebration of its 50th Anniversary with a commemorative ceremony in the Starr Theater at Alice Tully Hall. Hosted by renowned journalist and author Tom Brokaw, the program pays tribute to the many achievements and contributions of Lincoln Center, from the milestones of its past half century to the transformation of its campus. Celebrating the past and looking ahead to a new generation, the program includes appearances by established and upcoming artists affiliated with Lincoln Center, with remarks by institutional leadership and elected officials. In a special performance, members of the New York Philharmonic, conducted by music director designate Alan Gilbert, are recreating the Philharmonic's historic performance of Aaron Copland's Fanfare for The Common Man from Lincoln Center's 1959 groundbreaking with President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Also scheduled to participate are: Senator Charles E. Schumer, Governor David A. Paterson, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Chairman, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Broadway and TV star, soprano Audra McDonald; violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, with alumni of the Perlman Music Program; world-famous jazz musician and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center; with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Philanthropist David Rockefeller, whose brother, the late John D. Rockefeller 3rd, spearheaded the campaign to create Lincoln Center, will be in The Audience, as will members of the New York Philharmonic who played at the 1959 groundbreaking and students from the first graduating class of High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry, which is affiliated with the Lincoln Center Institute.

The entire event is being streamed live onto Lincoln Center's website,, and on the evening of May 11, the Tower Lights of the Empire State Building will be lit in Lincoln Center's 50th Anniversary colors of magenta and orange.

Fifty years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower wielded his shovel at the official groundbreaking of Lincoln Center, the nation's first major cultural complex. Since that time, Lincoln Center, with its 12 resident organizations, has become the world's largest performing arts center and has pioneered the concept of a performing arts campus as A Catalyst for urban renewal. It has become a model for performing arts centers around the world and has contributed to the cultural and economic evolution of the city, the state, and the nation.

"It is with great excitement that we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Lincoln Center," said Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Chairman, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. "We celebrate Lincoln Center's glorious past and the extraordinary promise of an institution that is in the midst of the most profound and impactful changes in its history. Since its founding, Lincoln Center has served tens of millions of people, and soon its revitalized campus will attract even more visitors and encourage them to come more often and stay longer."

"This is truly a transformative time for Lincoln Center - both artistically and institutionally," said Reynold Levy, President, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. "Transformative, not just because we are renovating our halls and upgrading our public spaces, but also because we are completely reimagining what a performing arts center can be for today's world, just as the founders did 50 years ago."

Said Governor Paterson, "New York is the cultural capital of the world and Lincoln Center embodies the best that our city and state has to offer. For fifty years, Lincoln Center has served as a premiere destination for patrons from around the world and its recent transformation will ensure that it remains that way for another fifty years. Lincoln Center is more than just a performing arts center; it has long served as an economic engine for New York and a model for cultural institutions across our country. I am truly pleased to celebrate this milestone and I urge New Yorkers to take advantage of the fantastic 50th Anniversary programming that Lincoln Center will offer throughout 2009 and beyond."

"Lincoln Center has contributed to New York City and America's culture like no other performing arts center in the nation," said Senator Schumer. "I am so proud to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Lincoln Center and the contribution it has made to the performing arts. I know that the future will be as bright as the past been has been for Lincoln Center."

The Anniversary celebration coincides with the ongoing physical transformation of Lincoln Center, designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in association with FXFOWLE, which is making the 16-acre campus a more open, accessible and vibrant urban destination. The "Dancing in Air Studios" at the School of American Ballet and Alice Tully Hall have been completed. In addition, a new Visitors Space designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects will be completed this fall, offering a lively community gathering place with a staffed visitor information desk, free performances, a café, restrooms, free internet access, and discounted tickets for available Lincoln center performances.

Among the other redevelopment highlights are: the ongoing redesign and expansion of the Juilliard School; the reconfiguration and rejuvenation of Lincoln Center's primary entryway along Columbus Avenue, with a new canopied drop-off and ramps framing a widened Grand Stair; an upgrade of the iconic Josie Robertson Plaza, its central Revson Fountain and its distinctive patterned pavement designed by Philip Johnson; a new mini-park welcoming visitors at the south end of the campus; the enhancement of West 65th Street, which will extend the threshold of Lincoln Center with the addition of expanded sidewalks, digital informational blades, dramatic lighting and a new street-level identity for many of the resident organizations; and the addition of an elegant new restaurant with a gently sloping roof lawn, oriented toward Lincoln Center's iconic reflecting pool and Henry Moore sculpture, which will serve as one of the many new green spaces on campus. The overall redevelopment initiative has been designed to renovate, modernize, and open up Lincoln Center to the benefit of virtually all of its artists, students, and visitors. For more information, go to

The May 11 commemorative event begins an exciting year of special events and performances, premieres, commissions, education initiatives, free community events, displays, screenings, lectures and publications heralding Lincoln Center's 50th Anniversary. A complete schedule with full details is available at

50th Anniversary Events

In a specially created edition of Lincoln Center at Times Center: Times Talks, Lincoln Center leadership and artists are exploring relevant arts-related topics with New York Times journalists in a series of three Talks, the first of which took place on May 4, 2009, with André Bishop, director Bartlett Sher, actress Cherry Jones and playwright John Guare from Lincoln Center Theater.

From May 6 to 23, the award-winning national oral history project, StoryCorps®, is bringing its signature Airstream MobileBooth, outfitted with a recording studio, to the Lincoln Center campus, enabling members of the community to share memories of their lives, including those that illuminate the personal significance and impact of Lincoln Center and its history. It is the first time the MobileBooth has ever come to Manhattan.

On June 9, virtuoso cellist and composer Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble are performing in a free concert that also is being broadcast nationally to millions as part of the Live From Lincoln Center series. Located in Damrosch Park, the concert is the first to be held in the newly upgraded Guggenheim Bandshell, built in 1969.
Live From Lincoln Center is made possible by a major grant from MetLife.

Also free is Lincoln Center's Meet the Artist series, which in July, August and September is traveling to New York Public libraries in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island for the first time. The program combines performance, participation and education to provide family audiences with an opportunity to experience the arts firsthand with world-class artists.

Major support for the Meet the Artist School Series is provided by International Flavors & Fragrances and Betty and John Levin.

On view from October 15, 2009 to January 16, 2010 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center: Celebrating 50 Years is the first major exhibit to explore the origins, development and impact of Lincoln Center. Curated by Thomas Mellins, co-author of New York: 1960, the exhibition focuses on various themes, among them urban fabric and urban renewal; architecture; larger than life personalities; once in a lifetime performances; technology; and education, training artists and growing the arts. Mr. Mellins explores key exhibition themes in a lecture titled Lincoln Center: Culture New York Style, on October 15, 2009, in the Bruno Walter Auditorium. Sponsored by The Bank of New York Mellon.

In addition, Target Free Thursdays, a free performance series, will begin in November in the newly opened Visitors Space at Lincoln Center. The program includes presentations of performances by break-out artists, student ensembles, community talent and artists drawn from Lincoln Center's resident organizations.

50th Anniversary Performances

June 8 - Lincoln Center Theater opens its annual Songwriting in the Schools celebration to the general public. The performance is the culmination of a 9-session residency in which middle and high school students are guided by professional lyricists and composers, through the rigorous creative process of writing their own songs. Selected songs are being performed in stage-reading style by Broadway stars.

July 8 - Midsummer Night Swing presents Chubby Checker in a Twist party celebrating 50 years of "dancing apart to the beat."

Sponsored by American Ballroom Company and Bloomberg.

July 9, 10 and 11 - Lincoln Center Festival presents Shen Wei Dance Arts in Re - (I, II, III), the first New York performance of the complete triptych. Part III, The New Silk Road, a New York premiere, was commissioned for the 50th Anniversary.

Lincoln Center Festival09 is sponsored by American Express. Shen Wei Dance Arts is sponsored by Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc.

July 11 - Midsummer Night Swing presents the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra's tribute to the classic mambo of Tito Rodriguez, Machito and Tito Puente.

July 14, 16 and 17 - Lincoln Center Festival presents new works by Emanuel Gat Dance, featuring the North American premiere of Gat's latest short work Silent Ballet and the New York premiere of Winter Variations.

Lincoln Center Festival09 is sponsored by American Express. Emanuel Gat Dance is sponsored by Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A., Inc.

August 5 - Lincoln Center Out of Doors celebrates its opening night with a free performance of The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out @ 50 plus special guest Simon Shaheen and the New York debut of Amir ElSaffar's Two Rivers Large Ensemble.

Sponsored by Bloomberg and PepsiCo, Inc.

August 5-9 - Lincoln Center Out of Doors presents the world premiere of the Asphalt Orchestra in collaboration with Bang on a Can in a series of new wave marching band performances featuring works commissioned from Goran Bregovic, Tyondai Braxton, and Stew and Heidi Rodewald.

August 9 and 10 - Mostly Mozart Festival presents the Chamber Orchestra of Europe led by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who is serving as both conductor and soloist in two Alice Tully Hall programs that showcase his expertise in a repertoire that ranges from Classical to contemporary.

August 13, 14 and 16 - Mostly Mozart Festival presents the New York premiere of John Adams' A Flowering Tree. Adams conducts three performances of this two-act opera/, with a cast of American singers, the production's original Schola Cantorum de Venezuela choir, and the Orchestra of St. Luke's, set against a rich tapestry of Indonesian dancers and costumes. Director Peter Sellars and Adams wrote the libretto together-their sixth collaboration-with inspiration from Mozart's final opera, The Magic Flute, and its themes of magic, transformation, and morality.