Newlywed Alec Baldwin has gifted the New York Philharmonic a cool $1 million to honor Zarin Mehta, the orchestra’s departing president and executive director. Mr. Mehta, whom musical director Alan Gilbert has credited with supporting cutting edge programming choices like last week’s concerts at the Park Avenue Armory, will leave in August 2012 when his contract expires.
The money is proceeds from Mr. Baldwin’s Capital One Bank commercials, and part of ongoing donations from money he’s earned from those ads to his favorite cultural institutions. This has also involved synergy with Capital One Bank itself making donations, as described in a Wall Street Journal news item last year about the actor’s philanthropic activities.
“I have loved classical music all of my life,” Mr. Baldwin said in a statement released by the orchestra. “Zarin Mehta made my dream of becoming part of the world of classical music come true. I will miss working with him directly, but will always bear in mind his passion, commitment and insight as I continue my work with the New York Philharmonic.”
Mr. Baldwin’s dream came true when he began hosting The New York Philharmonic This Week in 2009. He’s also a member of the New York Philharmonic board.
Executive director designate Matthew VanBesien called Mr. Baldwin’s work with the orchestra “one of Zarin Mehta’s great legacies.” He added that he personally looks forward to working with the actor and “welcoming him further in the fold of the New York Philharmonic.”
A spokesperson for the orchestra said that the gift, not his first, isn’t earmarked for any particular purpose. “It’s just general,” she said, “it’s not specified for any particular program.”