Lincoln Center to Rename Avery Fisher Hall

By: Nov. 13, 2014
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In a milestone philanthropic agreement that will help ensure the future of one of the world's iconic performing arts spaces, the children of the late Avery Fisher - Nancy Fisher, Charles Avery Fisher and Barbara Fisher Snow - today joined with the leadership of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to announce that they have entered into an agreement to enable the renaming of Avery Fisher Hall.

The agreement is a turning point in the effort to fund and initiate an extensive renovation of the concert hall through a close collaboration between Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic. Construction is targeted to begin in 2019 at a cost expected to exceed $500 million. The renovated concert hall, which has been the home of the Philharmonic since it opened in 1962, will also be home to the new Lincoln Center Hall of Fame, a first-of-its-kind institution that will celebrate all aspects of the performing arts and film as it encourages audiences to create new memories and inspires future generations to engage in the arts. The Hall of Fame will prominently highlight Avery Fisher's remarkable legacy by including an Avery Fisher Classical Music Wing. Avery Fisher will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with the first group of honorees.

Known as the "father of high fidelity," Avery Fisher left a resonant legacy in radio and phonographic equipment and in the performing arts, including his 1973 gift to renovate what was then known as Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center. The original endowment created for maintenance, operations and improvements of Avery Fisher Hall remains in place and will continue to be used for the purposes Mr. Fisher specified.

The Avery Fisher Artist Program, separately endowed by Mr. Fisher to establish the Avery Fisher Career Grants and the Avery Fisher Prize, will continue with its visibility and name recognition to be expanded. A celebratory New York Philharmonic concert with Maestro Alan Gilbert honoring Avery Fisher and his family will be held on March 24, 2015.

"We are committed to preserving the future of classical music in New York City, and recognize that Avery Fisher Hall must be rebuilt in order to preserve what we treasure," said Nancy Fisher, Charles Avery Fisher and Barbara Fisher Snow, speaking for the Fisher family. "While our family enjoyed over 40 years of our father's gift being highly visible, it is now time to relinquish that spotlight and allow growth and change at Lincoln Center. We are very pleased with Lincoln Center's plans to maintain Avery Fisher's legacy, exemplified by his great love for classical music and musicians."

"This transformative act of philanthropy enables us to pursue a new naming opportunity that will help fund construction of a state-of-the-art, new home for the New York Philharmonic and other world-class performers," said Jed Bernstein, president of Lincoln Center. "The Fisher family's decision reflects a passion for classical music performance and education that will now benefit further generations of musicians and audiences."

"The Lincoln Center Hall of Fame will extend Lincoln Center's reach and impact internationally as the world's leading performing arts center," said Katherine Farley, Chair of Lincoln Center. "We look forward to the Fisher family's continued role in the development of the Hall of Fame and its Avery Fisher Classical Music Wing, and to working together to bring even greater visibility to the Avery Fisher Artist Program."

The Lincoln Center Hall of Fame will celebrate the greatness of the artists, leaders and philanthropists who have played central roles in making Lincoln Center the world's leading performing arts center, and have also made a significant impact on the performing arts worldwide. Their contributions will be showcased through immersive, interactive experiences -- both in-person and online -- encompassing all aspects of the performing arts and film. Plans are in the works for all eleven Lincoln Center constituent organizations to participate. The Hall of Fame will serve as a platform for educational programs and special curated exhibits, and become the organizing entity for Lincoln Center's extensive archives. The Avery Fisher Classical Music Wing will contain archival materials about Avery Fisher's life, business career and influence on the arts.

Under the agreement, a Fisher family member will serve on the advisory board of the Hall of Fame, as well as the selection committee for Avery Fisher Classical Music Wing inductees. The renovated concert hall lobby will feature prominent tributes to Avery Fisher and the Avery Fisher Prize winners. The agreement also makes the Avery Fisher personal, business and Artist Program archives available to Lincoln Center for use in exhibits and other programming.

"For a musician, there is no greater thrill or higher honor than making music in this historic concert hall with the New York Philharmonic," said Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic. "Thanks to the incredible vision of the Fisher family, we can now truly move forward and reimagine the hall in exciting ways, to the benefit of artists and audiences alike. All of us at the New York Philharmonic will always associate Avery Fisher's name with our shared love of music."

"It was my privilege to know Avery Fisher," said Emanuel Ax. "I know that he was fascinated by the science of acoustics, and that he would be thrilled to see the developments in this incredibly exciting field. I know that I am one of the countless musicians who are deeply grateful to the Fisher family for this generous gesture that ensures the future for Lincoln Center as an essential and storied destination for the music world."

Noted Yo-Yo Ma, "My wife, Jill, and I were privileged to have had Avery and Janet as good friends. I know that both Avery and Janet would be so proud of their children for making the noble decision that would pave the way for a new era at Lincoln Center."

Philharmonic Hall, designed by Max Abramovitz, was the first building to open on the Lincoln Center campus. For more than 50 years, it has been home to storied performances by the New York Philharmonic, as well as other renowned orchestras and soloists. It was renamed in 1973 for Avery Fisher, a New York Philharmonic board member, who passed away in 1994.

Photo by Cara Charlton/Lincoln Center