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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

White Smoke at Lincoln Center

Deborah Borda named new President, CEO of New York Philharmonic
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The auditorium at David Geffen Hall.
Photo © 2017 Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

The uncertain future of the New York Philharmonic just got a lot clearer.

It was announced this morning that Deborah Borda will return to the historic orchestra as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Borda will start her term on Sept. 15, 2017.

She replaces Matthew van Besien, who rocked the orchestra world earlier this year when he announced his departure for a post at the University of Michigan. Ms. Borda is no stranger to David Geffen Hall, having served in the past as the orchestra's Executive Director.

Her hiring means that someone is finally at the wheel of the Philharmonic ship, after a period that saw the departure of Mr. van Besien. Artistic Administrator Ed Yim (who left earlier this year) and most crucially, music director Alan Gilbert.

Ms. Borda left Lincoln Center in 2000 for Los Angeles, where she led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a transition from respected Southern California ensemble to a cultural powerhouse. She oversaw the orchestra's transition into Walt Disney Hall, the upgrades to the Hollywood Bowl and expanded its footprint as a touring orchestra. Most importantly, she ushered in Gustavo Dudamel as the new music director in L.A.

At the New York Philharmonic, Ms. Borda will work with a new music director as well. Jaap van Zweden prepares to start his tenure in the 2018 season, with 2017-18 marked as a transitional year. The Philharmonic faces a difficult period ahead. The orchestra and its landlord Lincoln Center are raising funds for the "gut renovation" of its longterm home, a project that will leave the building standing but replace the acoustically troubled space with a new concert hall.

This is a more expensive option than demolishing the building and starting afresh, and one that is expected to displace the orchestra for two whole concert seasons. At this time, where they will move to, when that move will happen, and how that move will affect scheduling and programming remain matters of speculation.

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.