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Perlman Says Tinkering With Avery Fisher’s Acoustics Is Risky

Itzhak Perlman
Violinist Itzhak Perlman, a New York Philharmonic board member, said he likes performing in Avery Fisher Hall, which has been criticized by patrons over the years for having poor sound. According to Perlman, tweaking a concert hall's acoustics can be risky because there's no guarantee that the sound will improve. Photographer: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

June 1 (Bloomberg) -- Itzhak Perlman said he enjoys performing at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall, and it might not be a good idea to tweak the acoustics of the home of the New York Philharmonic.

“Personally, I like performing there,” the virtuoso violinist and New York Philharmonic board member said in a phone interview today about the venue located at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. With other concert halls, “in several instances, acoustics were changed and the sound didn’t end up better. Sometimes it ends up better. Whenever I hear people wanting to change the acoustics, I wish them good luck.”

Perlman’s comments came after a report in the Wall Street Journal today that the 169-year-old orchestra is “exploring the temporary occupancy” of the David H. Koch Theater if Avery Fisher is renovated. The financially troubled New York City Opera said last month it will leave the Koch Theater for a less costly home.

The cost of renovating the concert hall is “expected to top” $400 million, with the orchestra raising 40 percent of the cost and Lincoln Center covering the remaining 60 percent, the Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.

New York Philharmonic spokesman Eric Latzky said it is “premature” to comment about where the orchestra would relocate if Avery Fisher is renovated.

An “ad hoc group of trustees” from Lincoln Center and the Philharmonic are discussing the future of the auditorium at Avery Fisher Hall, said Betsy Vorce, a Lincoln Center spokesman. Neither Vorce nor Latzky would disclose the names of the committee’s members.

Acoustics Critics

Since Avery Fisher’s opening in 1962, patrons and concert goers have criticized the concert hall’s acoustics for hampering the orchestra’s sound. In 2003, the New York Philharmonic made an agreement to relocate to Carnegie Hall, but the deal fell through.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a loud hall,” Perlman said of Avery Fisher. “I don’t listen to myself in the hall, but as a performer, I enjoy it.”

Perlman said the issue of relocating the orchestra hadn’t been discussed at recent board meetings.

“I don’t see anything wrong with thinking about a move,” Perlman said. “It’s not as though we’ve decided to move to a particular location. Exploring is exploring. Nothing is set in stone.”

To contact the writer on this story: Patrick Cole in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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