“Whether it’s a classical concert or a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, you’re so moved by the live experience that, on the way home, you want to hear that movement again, right now,” he said.
There are no technological hurdles. The challenge, he concedes, is negotiating deals with player unions that loosen restrictions distributing music.
That will fall to Deborah Borda, the orchestra’s president and CEO.
By endowing her position with $10 million, Bohnett’s support will help offset Borda’s approximately $1.8 million in annual compensation by about $450,000, depending on the health of the stock market and the percentage the orchestra draws each year.
Orchestra music director posts are typically endowed but management posts are not, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra a notable exception.
“It’s a singular gift for this institution and unusual that it’s to underwrite the CEO position and partner that with a fund for innovation,” said Borda. “It really is, in a way, fashioning what the future is going to be like.”
The Los Angeles Philharmonic, founded in 1919, has seen its endowment booming in recent years, as well as buzz surrounding its decision to hire the dynamic, Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel for its music director post. The Bohnett gift is second only to the $25 million given by the Walt and Lilly Disney family in 2002 to endow the music directorship.
Bohnett, the founder of GeoCities, is an art collector and has donated just over $9 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, on whose board he sits. Along with his other philanthropic work, he runs a firm that invests in technology start-ups.
“The key to success in the business is the CEO,” said Bohnett. “That’s the same as thinking that I bring to the LA Phil and the other boards I’m on.”