On Friday, the eve of Geffen’s reopening, the Philharmonic held a private concert to thank the hundreds of construction workers who took part in the renovation of the hall.
More than 1,000 people attended. They were greeted with screens in the lobby declaring, “You Built This,” and listing the more than 3,000 names of workers and others who assisted in the project.
At the start of the concert, Henry Timms, the president and chief executive of Lincoln Center, took to the new stage in the completely rebuilt auditorium to thank the workers.
“What you have done in this room is simply nothing short of miraculous,” he said to whistles and cheers.
The program, led by the Philharmonic’s music director, Jaap van Zweden, included Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Rossini’s “William Tell” Overture and an excerpt from Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” among other works.
At one point, van Zweden, carrying a white hard hat, spoke to the crowd and said the orchestra was dedicating the concert to “all the workers who made it possible to have this gigantic temple ready.” He then led a performance of the theme from “Star Wars.”
More than 1,000 workers took part in the $550 million renovation, which largely unfolded during the coronavirus pandemic. The long pandemic shutdown allowed Lincoln Center and the Philharmonic to accelerate the project, which was originally scheduled to take place over several seasons.
Milton Angeles, an assistant superintendent for Turner Construction, which managed the project, said he was proud to take part. He said his favorite part of the revamped hall was the welcome center, a sleek reception area where visitors can buy tickets or get coffee.
“We’ve been fighting two years to get this done,” said Angeles, 34, who brought his mother to the concert. “It looks gorgeous.”
“It’s a strange feeling to have everything done, everything perfect,” he added. “It’s a huge accomplishment in such a short time.”