N.Y. Philharmonic's merger with Carnegie Hall called off

— The New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall abandoned plans Tuesday to merge two of the nation's most storied cultural organizations.

In a statement, the groups said each organization was better off on its own. "It is clear that each institution has unique, undeniable core values, which could have been compromised," the statement said.

The Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall announced the merger plan last spring under which the nation's oldest orchestra would move from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to its former home at Carnegie Hall.

The reasons included Carnegie's superior acoustics and the cost of renovating the orchestra's home, Avery Fisher Hall -- estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars -- at a time when arts organizations nationwide are facing a fund-raising pinch.

The planned merger threw Lincoln Center's programming into turmoil. Within three years, minus the Philharmonic, the world's largest arts complex would have had a 2,738-seat hall to fill.

By summer, word spread that Lincoln Center might pursue a breach-of-contract lawsuit involving the orchestra's Fisher Hall contract, which runs until 2011. And the orchestra's lawyers began looking into the benefits and drawbacks of a move.

"We gave the possibility of a merger our best efforts and learned a tremendous amount in the process," Sanford I. Weill, chairman of Carnegie Hall, said in a statement. "While it was a wonderful dream to pursue the possibilities, I think we have all come out of this stronger and more enlightened, and I have no doubt that this is a win-win situation for both institutions."

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