Get a 1st look at newly renovated David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center

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Monday, October 3, 2022
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The $550 million project to renovate David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center took three years while the performance space was gutted and redesigned. Sandy Kenyon has the story.

LINCOLN SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Eyewitness News got a first look inside the renovated David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.

The $550 million project took three years while the performance space was gutted and redesigned.

Despite a cost of more than half a billion dollars, the new hall will have less distance between the audience and the stage - and fewer seats.

"This projects really about two things: an extraordinary artistic experience, but also we want to create a new way of welcoming New York to Lincoln Center," said Lincoln Center President and CEO Henry Timms.

Timms was quick to point to an example.

"On this 55-foot media wall, you will able to watch the New York Philharmonic playing upstairs for free downstairs in our lobby," he said.

The hope is to create an intimacy between musicians and listeners - a connection the old hall often seemed to discourage.

In fact, the biggest improvements are not seen, but heard.

"And we always from the start wanted to make sure this sounded extraordinary," Timms said.

Ever since it was built, bad acoustics plagued the hall - but that's no longer true.

"The first moment that the musicians were on the stage, there was this magical moment when the first notes emerged, and you began to hear the extraordinary sounds," Timms said.

An empty concert hall is just wood, steel and fabric, but what of the music to be played? The management promised a revamp of the programming to make it more accessible and diverse.

"So you're going to hear world music, you're gonna hear rock concerts," Timms said.

It is music to match a more welcoming vibe inside and out.

Lincoln Center is built on the ruins of a community that was leveled to make way for the buildings. San Juan Hill housed thousands of Black and Latino families who were displaced when the wrecking ball arrived.

It's fitting then that a multi-media work called "San Juan Hill" will help to open Geffen Hall on Saturday.

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