Throughout her career Deborah Borda has extended the artistic, commercial, and technological boundaries of what an orchestra can be in the 21st century through creative leadership, commitment to innovation, and progressive vision. She became Linda and Mitch Hart President and CEO of the New York Philharmonic in 2017, having served in that role in the 1990s. The first woman in recent history to manage a major American symphony orchestra, she has held top posts at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She currently serves as Chair of the Avery Fisher Artist Program.
Upon returning to the Philharmonic, Ms. Borda renewed the organization’s commitment to serving as New York’s orchestra. She worked with Music Director Jaap van Zweden to deepen the Orchestra’s community engagement through new initiatives, such as the low-cost Phil the Hall, and revitalizing educational projects, and to champion today’s music by conceiving Project 19, the single largest women composers commissioning initiative in history, and establishing two new contemporary music series. The Philharmonic quickly adapted to the landscape altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting NY Phil Bandwagon, bringing free performances by small groups of Philharmonic musicians across New York City — an initiative that has been emulated across the country — and launching NYPhil+, the Orchestra’s first-ever streaming service hosting hours of newly recorded and historic Philharmonic performances.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s success during Deborah Borda’s 17-year tenure was chosen for case studies by Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. While there, she designed a business, education, and curatorial plan credited with restoring the orchestra to robust artistic and financial health, reinvigorated plans to build and open Walt Disney Concert Hall, oversaw the addition of a new shell for the Hollywood Bowl, and reconceived and diversified programming. She spearheaded the appointment of music director Gustavo Dudamel, with whom she invested in groundbreaking educational initiatives. These include YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), a flagship program that provides free after-school instrumental instruction to children in underserved communities, and the national Take a Stand initiative, which promotes social change through music.
Ms. Borda was the first arts executive to join Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence and she now serves on Oxford University’s Humanities Cultural Programme Advisory Council. Recipient of Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and Manhattan School of Music, her recent accolades include election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2018), being named a Woman of Influence by the New York Business Journal (2019), and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Women in Classical Music Symposium (2020). She is in demand internationally as a consultant and lecturer, and her accomplishments in the field of orchestral music have been cited in numerous reviews and articles, both nationally and internationally. A former professional violist, Deborah Borda graduated from Bennington College and continued her studies at London’s Royal College of Music.
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