Polisi for President

by Sedgwick Clark

Of Lincoln Center, that is.

The announcement on Tuesday (9/25) that Reynold Levy, 67, president of Lincoln Center since 2002, considers his work done and will move on at the end of next year, was a surprise. I figured there would be more total remakes like Alice Tully Hall. Under Levy, all the $1.2 billion renovations of the past seven years were accomplished on time and on budget. (Lincoln Center’s detailed press release offers the full official information.) Not in the release is my own observation that the populist move begun by his predecessor Nat Leventhal has bloomed full flower, with summer events never envisioned by John D. Rockefeller and LC’s founding fathers.

I never quite believed my friend Betsy Vorce, v.p. of public relations at LC, who has been saying for some time that the renovations are nearly finished. I’ll certainly be happy to see the scaffolding removed. But what about Avery Fisher Hall, which I attend more than any other venue at LC? Won’t LC be in charge of the inevitable work there, or will the NYPhil be responsible? We all know that renovation – mainly acoustical – is desirable. I speak, of course, as an audience member, not as one aware of day-to-day operating necessities such as dilapidating plumbing, etc. (This is not the time to revisit this difficult subject. I’ll just say that I’ve heard the NYPhil sound magnificent in Fisher under Masur, Maazel, Gilbert, and Davis, and unlistenable under Mehta.)

Tomorrow (9/27), in honor of Levy’s achievements, an 83-foot pedestrian bridge on the Walter Reade Theater level connecting the Rose Building to the main Lincoln Center “campus” will be opened and dedicated The President’s Bridge by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other dignitaries.

Back, however, to the subject of my title: Joseph Polisi. He has been president of The Juilliard School for 28 years and was honored by Musical America as Educator of the Year in 2005. His reputation as a master diplomat — a necessary quality when dealing with LC’s 11 turf-sensitive constituents – is impeccable and widespread. He had responsibility for the many alterations in the Juilliard building, most notably changing the school’s entrance from the original “back-door” location of 66th Street onto the more significant 65th Street where the action is. As author of American Muse: The Life and Times of William Schuman (Amadeus, 2008), he undoubtedly knows the ins and outs of everyone and everything to do with Lincoln Center, for Schuman was LC’s first president. Seems to me that Polisi would be ideal.

Looking Forward

My week’s scheduled concerts:

9/26 at 7:30 David H. Koch Theater. New York City Ballet. Stravinsky-Blanchine: Violin Concerto; Monumentum pro Gesualdo/Movements for Piano and Orchestra; Duo Concertant; Symphony in Three Movements.

9/27 Paul Hall (Juilliard School). Joel Sachs, piano; Cheryl Seltzer, piano; vocalists. Music of Henry Cowell.

10/3 at 7:00 Carnegie Hall. Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Riccardo Muti. Orff: Carmina burana. OPENING NIGHT.

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