The theater in the new David Geffen Hall is named the Wu Tsai Theater in honor of a catalytic gift from Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, philanthropist and Lincoln Center board member. The pledge was made in late 2020 and was the pivotal gift that enabled the project to accelerate by two years and supported more than 6,000 jobs at a time when they were badly needed, with 42% construction participation from minority and women-owned businesses and 52% of the workforce come from underrepresented communities, leadership of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the New York Philharmonic announced today.
In further recognition of Clara Wu Tsai’s landmark $50 million gift and commitment to ensuring diverse representation in the arts, this fall marks the launch of an annual “Wu Tsai Series” that will feature performances that showcase interdisciplinary works by diverse voices that take advantage of the theatre’s unique flexibility.
“Joe and I are passionate lovers of the arts and passionate about the role they play in our civic well-being,” said Clara Wu Tsai, founder of the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation and a member of Lincoln Center’s Board of Directors. “We are particularly passionate about Lincoln Center’s commitment to expanding the voices represented on stage and reaching new audiences to help create a more equitable and vibrant future in the arts. We couldn’t be happier to support this amazing project for New York City. “
“Throughout her long career, Clara has proven to be a visionary in the arts, deeply committed to the democratization and accessibility of culture,” said Katherine Farley, Lincoln Center executive chair. “With this formative gift, she will help Lincoln Center showcase art that spans genres and backgrounds, and invite more to participate in the transformative experiences of live performance. Accelerating this project simply would not have been possible without them.”
“The New York Philharmonic is excited to begin a new era with our return to the new David Geffen Hall and the orchestra’s performance at the newly renovated Wu Tsai Theater,” said Peter W. May, Co-Chairman of the New York Philharmonic Board He was speaking on behalf of fellow co-chairman Oscar L. Tang. “It has been a long road to get to this point, but the result will be worth the wait.”
Deborah Borda, President and CEO of the New York Philharmonic, said, “Joe and Clara’s visionary gift is instrumental in creating a concert hall that is not only for all New Yorkers, but a true home for 21st century music becomes that is open and inviting to the world.”
“Clara’s leadership is really exemplary. She has helped take ownership of our transformation, not only to ensure the David Geffen Hall project is finally completed on time and on budget, but also to ensure we serve a broader and more diverse audience said Henry Timms, president and chief executive officer of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. “As co-chair of the search for Shanta Thake, our Chief Artistic Officer, and an all-round thought partner, she has had a unique impact in shaping Lincoln Center into a more active and equitable civic entity for the City of New York.”
The new annual “Wu Tsai Series” celebrates diverse artists and socially committed works. It was specially curated to demonstrate the flexibility of the new Wu Tsai Theater and highlights synergies between art forms and cultures – inspired by Clara Wu Tsai’s commitment to reaching new audiences and championing new voices at Lincoln Center.
Etienne Charles’ San Juan Hill A New York Story, October 8: A Lincoln Center commission, premiered in two concerts on the opening weekend of the new David Geffen Hall. San Juan Hill: A New York Story is an immersive multimedia work that transports audiences through music, images and original first-person accounts into the history of the San Juan Hill neighborhood and the indigenous and immigrant communities that populated the land , on which Lincoln Center stands. Performed by Etienne Charles & Creole Soul and the New York Philharmonic conducted by music director Jaap van Zweden. Leading up to the world premiere, Charles, Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic are collaborating on a series of talks and workshops exploring culture preservation and transformation, gentrification, community activism, and resilience against adversity, among others in collaboration with the Weeksville Heritage Center and the Jazz Museum of Harlem;
Open House Weekend, October 29 & 30: All are invited when the Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic rooms in the new David Geffen Hall with a wide range of artists, ensembles and interdisciplinary performers from across New York’s cultural communities Activate city. Events include Family Day on Sunday 30th October with activities for spectators of all ages. All events are free;
GlobalFEST 20th Anniversary in January 2023: A seasonal presentation at Lincoln Center celebrating global music from 12 bands from around the world in an all-day takeover of multiple unique spaces throughout David Geffen Hall;
Afropunk’s first-ever Winter Afropunk: BLACK HERSTORY LIVE, February 2023: Brings her signature brand of avant-garde black culture and music into a two-day takeover with female programming that highlights the cutting edge in modern music, film, fashion and visual arts made by black women around the world in a seasonal presentation at Lincoln Center;
Chineke! March 2023: Europe’s first orchestra composed of majority black and ethnically diverse musicians and proudly placing diverse composers at the center of its repertoire will make its Lincoln Center debut, presented by Lincoln Center in association with the New York Philharmonic and the Juilliard schools;
The March to Liberation, Oct. 2-4 March 2023: A New York Philharmonic subscription program conducted by Leslie B. Dunner and directed by Tazewell Thompson (who is writing the libretto for a work by Courtney Bryan to be premiered at the concerts, which will also feature works by William Grant Still and Adolphus Hailstork); the evenings explore social justice and justice through the voices of black creators and through them their communities;
Julia Wolfe’s unEarth, 1.-3. June 2023: A New York Philharmonic subscription program featuring the world premiere of Julia Wolfe’s immersive multimedia oratorio unEarth, commissioned by the Philharmonic. The Crossing and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, in addition to the orchestra – she “digs deep into the stories and science of our planet – looking at forced migrations, adaptations, species loss, land loss and changing seas – and sings our fears.” and hopes for a way forward.”
Further programmatic details will be announced in the coming months.
About the reinterpretation by David Geffen Hall
Opening in October 2022, the new David Geffen Hall will enhance the overall concert experience and create the state-of-the-art Wu Tsai Theater that will serve as the home of the New York Philharmonic and host anticipated artists and audiences of the future. The project will bring tens of thousands of square feet of new public space online for a variety of cultural purposes, including performance and community. It supports 6,000 jobs and $600 million in economic activity and has exceeded its inclusion benchmarks with 42 percent of construction participation from minority- and women-owned businesses and an average 52 percent of the workforce from underrepresented communities.
The David Geffen Hall design team includes Diamond Schmitt Architects led by Gary McCluskie for the Wu Tsai Theater; Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects│Partners, led by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, in all public spaces; Acoustician Paul Scarbrough of Acoustics; and theater designer Joshua Dachs of Fisher Dachs Associates. Turner Construction Company is acting as construction manager and Kohler Ronan and Thornton Tomasetti are providing engineering services. Visit www.davidgefenhall.info for more details.