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Lincoln Center Musicians Protest Use of Prerecorded Music

By Emily Frost | October 19, 2012 3:14pm

LINCOLN CENTER — Musicians rallied in front of Lincoln Center's David Koch Theater Thursday to protest the use of prerecorded music at the famed performing arts center rather than the New York City Ballet Orchestra as accompaniment.

The 30 or so artists from the American Federation of Musicians handed out more than 2,000 fliers to the audience of “Stars of the 21st Century,” a traveling ballet revue, as the audience streamed into the theater.

Union reps said in a statement that Lincoln Center is renting out its venues to visiting performance companies that do not uphold the performing arts center's values instead of using regular artists, beginning six months ago.

In addition to "Stars of the 21st Century, it also alleges that Lincoln Center claims The Paul Taylor Dance Company used prerecorded music in its three week residency last March.

Union president Tino Gagliardi said in a statement that he was “confident that the Board of Directors at Lincoln Center will realize the importance of sustaining live music in performances at Lincoln Center and forbid the use of canned music in all future presentations in each of its constituent venues.”

But a rep for Lincoln Center, Caitlin Kasunich, said responsibility for hiring the performance companies rested with the managers of the Koch Theater.

"Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has no authority to decide either to whom the resident organizations rent their facilities, nor the content of any renter’s programs," the rep said.

The Koch Theater's managing director did not respond to requests for comment. 

Sara Cutler, a harpist for 11 years for the New York City Ballet Orchestra, said she was alarmed by "a trend of producing performances without live music."

"We are just outraged that the board thinks this is okay," she said. "[Customers] are paying top dollar at a top venue and getting half of what they're paying for."