Deborah Borda has extended the artistic, commercial, and technological boundaries of what a 21st-century orchestra can be 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 her return to the Philharmonic, Ms. Borda established a new vision that included the introduction of two contemporary music series and Project 19, the largest-ever women composers’ commissioning initiative, to celebrate the centennial of American women’s suffrage. The Orchestra has deepened community engagement during her tenure by creating and revitalizing educational projects, including the low-cost Phil the Hall. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philharmonic created NY Phil Bandwagon, free performances across New York City neighborhoods, and launched NYPhil+, the Orchestra’s first-ever streaming service. Under her leadership, the Philharmonic is collaborating with Lincoln Center to accelerate the long-awaited and transformational renovation of David Geffen Hall, now scheduled to reopen in fall 2022.
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 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), providing free after-school instrumental instruction to children in underserved communities, and the national Take a Stand initiative, promoting 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 in 2020 she joined 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) and being named a Woman of Influence by the New York Business Journal (2019). 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.