When Reynold Levy became president of Lincoln Center in 2002, the organization was “a community in deep distress, riven by conflict,” according to New York magazine. No surprise that the title of Levy’s new memoir is They Told Me Not to Take That Job: Tumult, Betrayal, Heroics, and the Transformation of Lincoln Center.
While much of Levy’s book offers an upbeat look at Lincoln Center's $1.2 billion redevelopment and its years of balanced budgets, he also surprised many with his scathing take on the management blunders at some of Lincoln Center's resident organizations, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera.
On this edition of Conducting Business Levy tells host Naomi Lewin why he chose to write in such forthright terms – and name names: “When governance goes astray, when management is not being held accountable, they get themselves into deep trouble. Because this whole sector is relatively unregulated, it’s important to call attention to the public those that are not so well-governed or well-managed.”
Levy, who stepped down from the Lincoln Center presidency last year, elaborates on the “self-inflicted wound” that led to the collapse of City Opera in 2013; the “shocking” lack of due diligence by the Philharmonic when it tried to merge with Carnegie Hall in 2003; and the still-uncertain outcome of last summer’s labor strife at the Met. He names five things the Met and its unions could do right now to improve the company’s finances, and he considers Alan Gilbert's surprise announcement to leave the Philharmonic.
Levy also tells us what he is most proud of as he looks back at the redevelopment of Lincoln Center’s 16-acre campus. Listen to the full interview above and share your reactions in the comments box below.