Episode 06 – Deborah Borda

Air Date: Aug 12, 2013

In the sixth episode of “Big Shots With Giselle Fernandez,” our short video series featuring business leaders and culture shapers from around the globe, Fernandez sits down with Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the L.A. Philharmonic, whose efforts to create accessible music for local audiences is evident in the organization’s nearly 300 annual concerts, and revolutionary educational programming, like Youth Orchestra L.A. (YOLA) run by music director Gustavo Dudamel. Here are some highlights from the conversation:

A champion of the idea that music is a fundamental human right, Borda challenges the stereotype that classical music is for elite audiences only. “To me, elite means excellent. Why isn’t that available to everybody?”

Though Borda remains one of the few female CEO’s in the classical music universe, she doesn’t like to think about her leadership in terms of gender. When asked how it plays a role in her success, Borda says, “A very famous psychologist named Edgar Schein called it the practice of ‘humble inquiry. And I think women are particularly gifted at that, even so-called ‘strong’ women.”

Borda says the move from New York to Los Angeles inspired her to reach out to new music lovers—and to be more creative, too. “Here’s what’s different in Los Angeles,” she says, “it’s an atmosphere of creativity. I ran the New York Philharmonic for close to a decade. I’ve been here close to 13 years now, but this has been such a rewarding professional experience. If you look at our programs, we do more contemporary, sort of interesting, different kind of work than any orchestra in the country—and the audience loves it. They’re younger and more diverse.”

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