Insights at the Atrium: "Music of Conscience: How Music Responds"

The New York Philharmonic

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Music of Conscience

Insights at the Atrium: prisoner of the state


David Rubenstein Atrium

Date & Times


Jun, 2019

Tuesday, 7:30 PM

Event Info

Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda is joined by David Lang, Pulitzer Prize winner and composer of this season’s fully staged finale, prisoner of the state. Lang gives Insights attendees an inside look at this new opera — a modern retelling of Beethoven’s Fidelio and the culmination of Music of Conscience, exploring music created in response to historical events, political unrest, and societal turmoil.

Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Subscribers, Friends at the Affiliate level and above, and Patrons may secure guaranteed admission by emailing


President and CEO Deborah Borda


President and CEO Deborah Borda


President and CEO Deborah Borda


Throughout her career, Deborah Borda has extended the artistic, commercial, and technological boundaries of American symphony orchestras. She became President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Philharmonic in September 2017. Prior posts include President and CEO, David C. Bohnett Presidential Chair, of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic; General Manager of the San Francisco Symphony; President and Managing Director of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and Executive Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 2015 she became the first arts executive to join Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence. In 2018 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and named Chair of the Avery Fisher Artist Program.

Deborah Borda became the first woman in recent history to manage a major American symphony orchestra when she was appointed Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic in 1991, and subsequently guided the Orchestra through a period of artistic and fiscal growth. Within her first three months after returning to the New York Philharmonic in 2017, Ms. Borda completed a $50 million launch fund to usher in a new era of fiscal stability and assembled a new leadership team to support her and Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s vision for the Orchestra. The 2018–19 season, van Zweden’s first as Music Director, introduced this vision: engagement with timely social issues, connections with New York City, and a redoubling of the Philharmonic’s commitment to innovation, collaboration, new music, and educational initiatives, such as the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program.

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. During her first decade in Los Angeles, Ms. Borda designed an acclaimed business, education, and curatorial plan credited with restoring the orchestra to robust artistic and financial health. She reinvigorated plans to build and launch Walt Disney Concert Hall, oversaw the addition of a new shell for the Hollywood Bowl, and reimagined and diversified programming at both venues. She also spearheaded the appointment of music director Gustavo Dudamel. Committed to the orchestra’s social imperative, Ms. Borda and Mr. Dudamel invested in groundbreaking educational initiatives, including the founding of YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), a flagship program that provides free after-school instruction to children in underserved communities, and the national Take a Stand initiative, which promotes the El Sistema philosophy of social change through music.

A former professional violist, Deborah Borda graduated from Bennington College and continued her studies at London’s Royal College of Music. She received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. 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.

Learn more about President and CEO Deborah Borda


David Lang


David Lang



David Lang is one of the most highly esteemed and performed American composers writing today. His opera prisoner of the state — co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Rotterdam’s de Doelen Concert Hall, London’s Barbican Centre, Barcelona’s l’Auditori, Bochum Symphony Orchestra, and Bruges’s Concertgebouw — is being premiered by Jaap van Zweden and the New York Philharmonic June 6–8, 2019, at David Geffen Hall.

Mr. Lang’s works have been performed around the world in most of the great concert halls. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Music for the little match girl passion, which The New Yorker described as “one of the most original and moving scores of recent years,” adding: “Lang, once a postminimalist enfant terrible, has solidified his standing as an American master.” His score for Paolo Sorrentino’s film Youth received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations, among others. Other recent work includes man made, a concerto for So Percussion and orchestra, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony; anatomy theater, an opera written in collaboration with visual artist Mark Dion, presented at Los Angeles Opera; the public domain, a commission from Lincoln Center for 1,000 amateur singers; and the loser, his opera based on the novel by Thomas Bernhard, which opened the 2016 Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and for which Lang served as librettist and stage director as well as composer.

 David Lang is a professor of music composition at the Yale School of Music and artist-in-residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s acclaimed music collective Bang on a Can. His music is published by Red Poppy Music (ASCAP) and is distributed worldwide by G. Schirmer, Inc.

Learn more about David Lang

Special Thanks

Insights at the Atrium is presented in partnership with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.

Major support for Music of Conscience is provided by Laura Chang and Arnold Chavkin.


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