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Carnegie Hall Announces 2011-12 Season; WQXR Broadcasts

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Carnegie Hall announced its 2011-12 season on Wednesday, plans which include a celebration of the hall's 120th anniversary, a $200 million renovation project, and the launch of a new broadcast arrangement with WQXR and American Public Media.

Among the highlights announced at a news conference was "American Mavericks," a festival of American composers featuring the San Francisco Symphony; two "Perspectives" series, with one curated by Hungarian pianist András Schiff and a second by the period-instrument ensemble L’Arpeggiata; and the rotating Debs Composer's Chair will be held by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.

The season opens October 5 with a gala all-Russian concert featuring the Mariinsky Orchestra, conductor Valery Gergiev and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. October continues with four more Mariinsky concerts, spanning a complete Tchaikovsky symphony cycle. The Russian composer made his American debut conducting at Carnegie Hall’s inaugural Opening Night on May 5, 1891.

Other major orchestras to appear include the Berlin Philharmonic, MET Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra.

Also announced is a new broadcasting arrangement with WQXR and American Public Media that will start this spring and continue through the 2011-2012 season. Twenty Carnegie Hall performances will be broadcast to a nationwide audience, twelve of them live. The hall’s 120th Anniversary Gala on May 5 will be taped to air on WQXR and on May 31. That program, featuring the New York Philharmonic, takes place 120 years after the hall first opened its doors.

The full schedule of 2011-2012 live broadcasts will be announced at a later date.

The plans for the renovation of Carnegie Hall Towers and its extensive but cramped backstage facilities will get fully underway in 2011. The project, which has a targeted opening date of 2014, will create space for Carnegie’s education wing, known as the Weill Music Institute, and will include practice and rehearsal rooms and access to a new roof deck.

In 2007, the hall announced it would be repurposing the two city-owned towers -- one 12 stories high, the other 16 – that for decades housed more than 100 studios and apartments for musicians, painters, dancers and actors. The move to evict the tenants met resistance from several residents who waged a years-long legal battle against New York City and the developers. The last remaining tenant left last August.

So far the hall has received a $25 million lead gift from Weill, while some of the financing for the renovations -- $56.5 million -- will come from city-backed bonds.

Clive Gillinson, Carnegie's executive and artistic director, noted that the renovated facilities will make hall more attractive to visiting performers in an increasingly competitive market. “It’s not that great orchestras won’t come,” he said. “They’ll come less often. As a result, we have to provide the best of everything.”

The hall also announced the redesign of its Web site for the first time since 2000. The new site, due to launch this spring, will include a larger array of educational resources and multimedia offerings.

Clive Gillinson on the WQXR / APM Broadcast Series: