NYC-ARTS Profile: Deborah Borda - NYC-ARTS (2022)

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO NYC ARTS.

I'M PAULA ZAUN AT THE TISH STUDIOS AT LINCOLN CENTER.

ONE OF OUR MOST BELOVED NEIGHBORS IS THE RENOWNED NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC.

IT'S THE OLDEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA IN THE U.S.

FOR 176 YEARS IT HAS PLAYED A LEADING ROLE AROUND THE WORLD.

LAST SEASON, THE PHILHARMONIC FACED ITS SHARE OF CHALLENGES AND EMBRACED SOME CHANGES.

ONE MAJOR CHALLENGE WAS THE PLAN TO REBUILD DAVID GEFFEN HALL, THE ORCHESTRA'S HOME AT LINCOLN CENTER.

THE RENOVATION IS A WORK IN PROGRESS, WITH SPECIFIC PLANS TO BE REVEALED NEXT YEAR.

AN EXCITING CHANGE WAS THE APPOINTMENT OF THE NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR.

HE'LL ASSUME HIS NEW ROLE IN THE COMING SEASON.

THEN IN WHAT SOME HAVE CALLED A PHILHARMONIC COUP, DEBORAH BOARDA IS SERVING AS PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER.

HER MOST RECENT POST WAS A STELLAR 17 YEARS AS CEO AND PRESIDENT OF THE LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC.

SHE SPEAR HEADED THE APPOINTMENT OF THE MUSIC DIRECTOR.

PERHAPS IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER RETURNED TO OUR CITY.

A NATIVE NEW YORKER RAN THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IN THE '90s FOR NINE SEASONS.

THE FIRST WOMAN AT THE TIME TO MANAGE A MAJOR ORCHESTRA.

I RECENTLY HAD A CHANCE TO SPEAK WITH HER ABOUT HER BIG PLANS FOR A NEW ERA AT THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC.

♪♪

WELCOME.

GREAT TO BE HERE.

IT'S SO TERRIFIC TO HAVE YOU BACK IN NEW YORK.

IT'S TERRIFIC FOR ME AS WELL.

WE OUTLINED IN THE INTRODUCTION SOME OF YOUR MANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS WITH THE L.A.

PHILHARMONIC.

IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN AN EASY DECISION TO LEAVE A PLACE WHERE YOU'VE HAD SUCH AN ENORMOUS IMPACT.

WHAT WENT INTO YOUR DECISION MAKING TO COME BACK TO NEW YORK?

IT WAS A DIFFICULT DECISION, BUT IT FELT VERY RIGHT.

IT WAS RIGHT FOR ME PERSONALLY.

I'M A NEW YORKER.

BUT THERE WAS ACTUALLY ANOTHER SERIES OF CONNECTIONS THAT WERE JUST TERRIBLY IMPORTANT TO ME.

THE FIRST HAS TO DO WITH THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC ITSELF.

IT IS ONE OF THE ICONIC FLAGSHIP INSTITUTIONS OF OUR COUNTRY AND CERTAINLY OF THE WORLD OF MUSIC.

AND IT WAS HAVING PROBLEMS.

IT IS HAVING PROBLEMS.

IT'S IN A PERIOD OF GREAT CHANGE AND TRANSFORMATION.

IT SEEMED TO ME IF I COULD PLAY SOME ROLE IN HELPING IT TO THE NEW PLACES IT NEED TO GO TO AND WANTS TO GO TO, THAT THAT WOULD BE SOMETHING THAT COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

THEN LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I MET THIS GUY WHO IS OUR NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR AND WE JUST HAD A CONNECTION.

I THOUGHT, YOU KNOW WHAT, HE MIGHT BE THE RIGHT PARTNER AND MAYBE THIS IS SOMETHING WE WOULD HAVE A GREAT TIME DOING TOGETHER.

YOU RAN THE ORCHESTRA FOR NINE SEASONS AND YOU ACCOMPLISHED A LOT THEN.

BUT WHAT HAS CHANGED?

SOCIETY HAS CHANGED.

THE WAY WE CONSUME CULTURE IS VERY, VERY DIFFERENT FROM HOW PEOPLE WENT TO CONCERTS OR HOW THEY LIVED THEIR LIVES.

WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO ME IS TO LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF THE PHILHARMONIC AND THINK ABOUT THE TIMES WHEN IT HAS TRULY FLOURISHED.

AND WHEN ARE THOSE TIMES?

THOSE TIMES ARE WHEN IT HAS DARED TO TAKE RISKS, WHEN IT'S THINK ABOUT AN ORCHESTRA THAT BOASTS THE HISTORY OF WESTERN MUSIC STARTING WELL OVER A CENTURY AGO.

BUT THE CHALLENGE TODAY IS HAVING THAT VISION YOU TALK ABOUT AND WALKING THAT FINE LINE SO YOU'RE NOT ALIENATING TRADITIONALISTS.

I THINK MAESTRO GILBERT WOULD ARGUE THAT HE TRIED SOME INNOVATIVE THINGS.

HE ACKNOWLEDGED SOME OF THOSE THINGS WORKED, SOME OF THEM DIDN'T.

NOTHING ALWAYS WORKS.

I DON'T THINK HE FAILED.

FOR THE PHILHARMONIC AND SYMPHONIES IN GENERAL, AS WE LOOK AT A WHOLE GENERATION OF MILLENNIALS WHO ARE RECEIVING ABSOLUTELY NO MUSIC EDUCATION, BUT THEY'RE HIGHLY EDUCATED, THEY'RE MOTIVATED AND THEY'RE INTERESTED.

WHAT WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IS HOW CAN WE PRESENT THIS ART FORM THAT WE CHERISH TO THEM IN A WAY THAT SETS IT IN A LARGER CONTEXT?

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO ATTRACT THOSE YOUNGER PATRONS?

TO ME, PART OF IT IS THINKING ABOUT HOW YOU CAN CREATE WHAT I CALL PILLARS OR INITIATIVES THAT ARE NOT ONLY ABOUT MUSIC BUT RELATE TO PEOPLE SOCIALLY.

FOR EXAMPLE, WE WILL CLOSE THE SEASON WITH A THREE-WEEK PILL AR WHICH IS CALLED MUSIC OF CONSCIENCE.

THIS IS MUSIC WRITTEN IN TIMES OF POLITICAL OR SOCIAL OR GEOGRAPHIC UPHEAVAL.

FOR EXAMPLE, THE VERY FIRST PROGRAM WILL HAVE NOT TWO MODERN PIECES BUT THE BEETHOVEN SYMPHONY.

HE WROTE IT TO GLORIFY NAPOLEON.

HE LATER DECIDED NAPOLEON WAS A TYRANT.

IN THE SYMPHONY YOU HEAR IT WRITTEN RIGHT INTO THE MUSIC, YOU HEAR -- ♪♪

HE WRITES IN THE KNOCK OF THE KGB AT THE DOOR.

THAT'S ONE PROGRAM.

ANOTHER PROGRAM FEATURES 'RAGE AND REMEMBRANCE.'

JOHN WROTE IT AT A TIME WHEN HE HAD LOST EIGHT CLOSE FRIENDS IN ONE SIX-MONTH PERIOD.

FROM AIDS.

FROM AIDS.

IT IS A STARTLING AND DRAMATIC PIECE.

MUSIC CAN BE INTIMATE AND THEN IT COULD BE HUGE ORCHESTRAS DEMONSTRAING A TRAGEDY.

THIS IS A VERY LARGE ORCHESTRA.

HE IS A MAN WHO CAN DO THAT AND WHO WILL DO THAT.

WHEN WE DID THE NEW YORK PREMIER IN 1991 AT THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC, THE AIDS QUILT PROJECT, PANELS THAT WERE MADE DEDICATED TO THEIR FRIENDS.

WE PUT UP A PANEL IN AVERY FISHER HALL.

THE LINE SNAKED AROUND THE HALL.

PEOPLE WANTED TO WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT A FRIEND THEY HAD LOST.

WE'LL BRING THAT PIECE BACK.

THE ENTIRE SEASON WILL END WITH AN OPERA BY DAVID LANGE CALLED 'PRISONER OF THE STATE.'

IT'S A 21st CENTURY TAKE ON FIDELIO, THE STORY OF A TYRANT.

WE'RE PARTNERING WITH THE SMITHSONIAN AND MANY DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS.

THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY WHICH I THINK IS SO IMPORTANT WHICH IS ABOUT COLLABORATION.

ONE OF THE WAYS YOU'RE TRYING TO INCREASE THE PHILHARMONIC'S REACH IS THROUGH A NEW SERIES CALLED PHIL HALL.

IT'S TRUE THAT FOR $5 THAT THOUSANDS OF NEW YORKERS WILL BE ABLE TO SEE PHILHARMONIC CONCERTS?

YES.

IT'S A BRAND NEW SERIES.

SO PHIL, OUR LITTLE JOKE, THE HALL, IS A SERIES OF CONCERTS WHERE TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE FOR $5.

WE'LL BE REACHING OUT TO A NUMBER OF COMMUNITY GROUPS.

THESE WILL BE VERY SPECIAL CONCERTS IN TWO WAYS.

FIRST OF ALL, EACH ONE WILL BE ONLY AN HOUR.

WE'RE ENCOURAGING PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT FEEL AS COMFORTABLE, COME, IT'S AN HOUR, DRESS ANYWAY YOU WANT.

THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE THAT REALLY TOUCHES ME ABOUT IT.

THAT IS OUR NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR WILL CONDUCT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE CONCERTS.

REALLY?

THAT IS VERY UNUSUAL.

COMMUNITY CONCERTS ARE SO OFTEN RELEGATED TO AN ASSISTANT CONDUCTOR.

HE HAS MADE A COMMITMENT TO CONDUCT EVERY ONE.

HELP ME UNDERSTAND THAT COMMITMENT.

WHERE DOES THAT COME FROM.

HE FIRST CAME TO NEW YORK WHEN HE WAS 16.

HE CAME TO THE JULIARD SCHOOL.

IT WAS THE START OF A LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE CITY FOR HIM.

HE GETS THE CITY.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE BORN HERE TO BE A NEW YORKER.

I KNOW YOU FEEL THAT THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE HAS SHAPED WHAT THE NEW YORK PHIL IS TODAY.

ACTUALLY, I THINK THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE HAS NOT SHAPED JUST THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC, BUT THE VIBRANCY AND BEAUTY OF OUR CITY.

SO WE'RE LOOKING AT IMMIGRATION THROUGH A SPECIFIC SEMINAL EVENT.

THAT IS IN 1911 THE HORRIFIC FIRE AT THE TRIANGLE SHIRT WAIST FACTORY WHERE I THINK ABOUT 140 IMMIGRANTS PERISHED IN A MATTER OF MINUTES BECAUSE THE DOORS WERE LOCKED.

WE'VE COMMISSIONED A WORK BY A WONDERFUL WOMAN COMPOSER ALSO IN NEW YORK, JULIA WOLF, A --

IT'S A MULTIMEDIA PIECE.

WE'RE WORKING WITH PHOTOGRAPHS AND OTHER ARCHIAL MATERIALS.

IT'S SUCH A GIFT.

IT'S REALLY THRILLING.

THIS IS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY NOT JUST FOR COLLABORATION, BUT ACTUALLY TO DISCUSS WHAT IS A VERY HOT TOPIC, AN IMPORTANT TOPIC OF OUR TIME.

I ALSO KNOW YOU'RE GOING TO TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PROMOTE A NUMBER OF FEMALE COMPOSERS AND CONDUCTORS.

WHAT DO WE HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO?

WE HAVE THREE PRETTY STUNNING DEBUTS FOR THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC.

THE FIRST IS ONE OF THE MOST GIFTED CONDUCTORS I HAVE SEEN IN MY CAREER.

HER NAME IS HARD TO PRONOUNCE.

I CALL HER MGT.

MUCH EASIER.

WHEN I SAW HER CONDUCT, IT REMINDED ME OF THE IMPACT IT HAD WHEN I SAW GUSTAVO FOR THE FIRST TIME.

SHE'LL BE MAKING HER DEBUT.

ALSO ANOTHER WONDERFUL CONDUCTOR, I GUESS WE HAVE TO SAY WOMAN CONDUCTOR.

EMANUEL HAYIM.

VERY GIFTED AND SPIRITED MUSICIAN.

SHE'LL BE ON THE STAGE AS WELL.

IN ADDITION TO THAT, WHEN WE STAGE DAVID LANGE'S OPERA 'PRISONER OF THE STATE' WE'LL HAVE A WOMAN DIRECTOR AND SHE'LL BE DIRECTING THE OPERA.

THERE ARE OTHER TERRIFIC WOMEN WITHOUT THE SEASON.

♪♪

PEOPLE MAY KNOW OF HER TODAY, BUT SHE WILL BE MORE FAMOUS 100 YEARS FROM NOW THAN SHE IS TODAY, BECAUSE SHE IS A MUSE FOR CON TEMPORARY COMPOSERS.

DIDN'T YOU SEE IT AS PART OF YOUR ROLE TO CHAMPION FEMALE MUSICIANS?

THINK ABOUT THIS.

WHAT IS THE EPITOME OF LEADERSHIP WHEN YOU LOOK EVEN IN MODELS THAT ARE PUT OUT INTO THE CORPORATE WORLD?

CONDUCTOR OF AN ORCHESTRA.

AND WHAT IS THE EPITOME OF THAT CONDUCTOR?

IT'S A MAN.

ONE OF THE POINTS THAT I THOUGHT WAS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE MADE IN LOS ANGELES AND THAT WE'LL DO HERE IS, WHEN WE PUT ON CHILDREN'S CONCERTS.

IT IS CRITICAL THAT WOMEN CONDUCT THOSE CONCERTS, AT LEAST SOME OF THEM, SO THAT WHEN KIDS SIT IN THE AUDIENCE, THE FIRST PERSON THEY SEE WHO WALKS OUT TO CONDUCT IS A WOMAN.

AND THEN IT'S PERFECTLY NATURAL.

AND YOUR LOVE OF MUSIC STARTED VERY EARLY ON IN YOUR LIFE.

RIGHT.

IS IT TRUE AT THE AGE OF 4 YOU WENT TO A NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC CONCERT AND GOT HOOKED?

YES.

IT'S SORT OF A SINGULAR MEMORY.

MY MOTHER TOOK ME.

WHAT I REMEMBER FIRST WAS WE WERE AT THE VERY TOP OF CARNEGIE HALL.

I WAS TRYING TO CLIMB UP THE STEPS.

EACH STEP SEEMED ABOUT THAT HIGH TO ME.

I WAS SORT OF PULLING MYSELF UP.

I GOT THERE AND THE CONCERT STARTED.

I JUST LOVED THE SOUND.

FOR ME, I FEEL A SENSE OF PERSONAL COMMITMENT THAT COMES FROM THE FACT THAT THE VERY FIRST CONCERT I SAW WAS THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC CONDUCTED BY LEONARD BERNSTEIN.

AND THEN I GOT HOOKED.

SO PART OF MY MISSION IS TO HELP OTHER 4-YEAR-OLDS OR 24-YEAR-OLDS OR 44-YEAR-OLDS HAVE THAT SAME EXPERIENCE, FEEL THAT SAME PASSION AND ENJOYMENT.

IT'S PRETTY CLEAR FROM TALKING TO YOU JUST HOW AMBITIOUS YOUR PLANS ARE.

SO IF YOUR CREATIVE DREAMS ARE REALIZED, HOW DO YOU WANT THE PUBLIC TO VIEW THE ORCHESTRA?

I WANT NEW YORKERS TO VIEW THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC AS INDISPENSABLE.

THAT SIMPLE.

INDISPENSABLE AND IN THEIR HEARTS.

AND WE WISH YOU TREMENDOUS LUCK WITH THAT GOAL.

WE'LL TRY.

YOU'RE GETTING THERE.

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