World and Nation

Slip of the Tongue, $90 Million Donation Unexpectedly Leaked

An anonymous donor has promised $90 million for the Frank Gehry-designed future home of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Fla., one of the largest gifts to a classical music institution.

The news was good for the orchestra — a professional-level ensemble that trains young conservatory graduates for life in a symphony — but premature.

Orchestra officials said Thursday that they had hoped to announce the gift in the fall, when ground is to be broken on the project. But a board member, Neisen O. Kasdin, let word drop on Tuesday in presenting the building's plans before the Miami Beach Design Review Board, irritating the orchestra's marketing staff. The meeting was routinely videotaped and posted on the city's Web site.

Howard Herring, the orchestra's president and chief executive, said the commitment was made two years ago. "We intend to honor this gift by making our contribution to the future of classical music," Herring said.

The new building will include a 700-seat hall, practice rooms, offices and state-of-the-art media and technical equipment. The project includes a small park and a parking lot. It will sit on Lincoln Road, a boulevard of restaurants, clubs and souvenir shops.

The orchestra plans to raise about $200 million for the project, including $50 million for the endowment.

The board member overseeing the fundraising drive, Howard Frank, said the $90 million promise had been crucial in persuading other donors and board members to come forward with their dollars. The orchestra has an additional $35 million yet to raise; about $45 million is expected to come from local government, Frank said. Money will also come from the sale of the orchestra's current home, a converted movie theater on Lincoln Road.

Orchestra officials declined to discuss the donor.

New World, which calls itself America's Orchestral Academy, has long been flush, thanks in part to Ted Arison, the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines, who was the driving force in its founding. Arison, who died in 1999, contributed more than $60 million. His widow, Lin, remains a major contributor.

While $90 million is not huge for hospitals or universities, it is for musical institutions, particularly one with an $8.5 million budget. In 2005, an anonymous donor pledged $100 million to the Yale School of Music.