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Yo-Yo Ma and Deborah Borda Discuss Art, Music, and Social Justice at Harvard

Posted March 15, 2019


Last week Yo-Yo Ma joined the New York Philharmonic for a triumphant US Premiere. On Wednesday he traveled to Harvard, his alma mater, for a conversation with Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda — who in 2015 became the first arts executive to join Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence — for a free, public conversation about art, music, and social justice.

Here are some highlights from the talk, as reported by The Harvard Crimson:

 “It’s never art for art’s sake. Art for life’s sake, or I’d say even further, art for us, for humans.… We invented these things because we think they will help us.” — Yo-Yo Ma

“If you look at the canon, there’s another enormous issue: all the music we play is written by men.” — Deborah Borda, who then described the New York Philharmonic’s Project 19, which marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment by commissioning 19 female composers

“[Borda’s] really a stellar example of marrying something that we may think of as an elitist form, classical music, and making it with purpose to better society, and not just for the few in the concert hall.” — audience member Mary Jane Kornacki

Interested in music with a social conscience? Join us in May and June.

(Photos: Paul Sekhri)