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Deborah Borda, President and CEO of Los Angeles Philarmonic Association, to be Honored with Bard's Kellogg Award at Bard Music Festival Gala

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Bard College honors Deborah Borda, president and chief executive officer, David C. Bohnett Presidential Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, with the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters. Borda’s career has been distinguished by her creative leadership, commitment to innovation, and progressive outlook on the role of orchestras in the 21st century. Borda will be presented with the award at the Noche de gala for the Bard Music Festival, which this year celebrates the music of Carlos Chávez and his world. The gala event is on Wednesday, April 29 at Dos Caminos Park Avenue, 373 Park Avenue South (at 27th Street) in New York City. Cocktails begin at 6:30 pm and dinner is at 7:30 pm. Dance music is provided by Nueva Tipico. For more information, call 845-758-7414 or e-mail

As president and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Deborah Borda manages the largest symphonic organization in the United States. Her tenure at the LA Phil has been marked by a series of artistic and educational initiatives that have garnered worldwide acclaim and become models within the orchestral music industry. Borda assumed her present duties in 2000, at which time she reinvigorated plans to build Walt Disney Concert Hall and expand the scope of the organization’s presentations there. She oversaw the addition of a new shell for the Hollywood Bowl, the orchestra’s summer home, and broadened the venue’s offerings. In 2009, she gained the classical music world’s attention by spearheading the appointment of Gustavo Dudamel as music director, who now holds the title of Music and Artistic Director and whose contract with the LA Phil has been extended through the 2021/22 season. Each of these accomplishments is tied to the highly regarded business and curatorial plan that Borda developed, which has been credited with restoring the orchestra to robust artistic and financial health.

Borda works with a remarkable team of creative partners to shape the orchestra's artistic trajectory. by Dudamel appointed composer John Adams to be the orchestra’s first creative chair in 2009, and Herbie Hancock serves as the creative chair for jazz. Both artists have extended their contracts with the LA Phil through the 2015/16 season. Esa-Pekka Salonen acts as the orchestra’s conductor laureate, a position created following the end of his 17-year tenure as music director. In 2008, a fund in Salonen’s name was established to support the LA Phil’s commissioning program, the most active in the country.

The LA Phil’s creative team, led by Dudamel and Borda, is deeply invested in collaboration across disciplines, genres, and continents. Over the past decade, the orchestra’s multidisciplinary productions and far-reaching festivals have gained international acclaim. The historic Mahler Project and Mozart/Da Ponte Trilogy offer two influential examples of these efforts. Staged over a five-week period in 2012, Dudamel conducted nine Mahler symphonies with the LA Phil and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela in both Los Angeles and Caracas. The orchestras united again in 2014 for TchaikovskyFest, a similar multiweek exploration of a single composer’s work that also incorporated a substantial educational component. Also launched in 2012, the Mozart/Da Ponte Trilogy was an ambitious, three-year undertaking, incorporating sets by Pritzker Prize–winning architects Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, and Zaha Hadid into stagings of Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, and Così fan tutte.

Under Borda’s leadership, the LA Phil also continues its tradition of multidisciplinary collaborations and technological advancement through a combination of concert presentations and audience engagement initiatives. The in/SIGHT series incorporates the work of cutting-edge video artists, and Inside the Music provides audiences with new entry points into symphonic music through online video and discussion. These series build on Borda’s long history of exploring new media strategies to advance the field of classical music. She oversaw the creation of the LA Phil’s first Digital Initiatives team and instigated the development of the organization’s award-winning smart phone apps, mobile games, online music discovery tools, and live HD theatercasts.

Deeply committed to the orchestra’s social as well as artistic imperatives, Borda, in partnership with Dudamel, has invested in groundbreaking educational initiatives. These include YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), which provides free, after-school instrumental instruction to children in underserved communities throughout Los Angeles, and the Dudamel Fellowship, which connects young conductors from around the world with the LA Phil to develop their craft and enrich their musical experience through Dudamel’s mentorship. The creation of YOLA was inspired by Dudamel's association with El Sistema, Venezuela's influential music education program. YOLA’s own influence has grown exponentially since the program's founding, resulting in the creation of the national Take A Stand initiative in 2012. Through Take A Stand, the LA Phil, in collaboration with the Longy School of Music of Bard College, promotes the El Sistema philosophy of social change through music via conferences, regional workshops, and a master of arts in teaching program.

Prior to becoming president and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Borda was executive director of the New York Philharmonic for a decade, general manager of the San Francisco Symphony, and president of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Orchestra. A Bennington/Royal College of Music alumna and former professional violist, Borda is in demand internationally as a consultant and lecturer. In 2015 she became the first arts executive to join the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence.  

The Bard Music Festival was founded in 1990 to promote new ways of understanding and presenting the history of music to a contemporary audience. Each year, a single composer is chosen as the main subject. The festival explores his biography, considers influences on and the consequences of his achievement, and examines all aspects of the musical culture surrounding the time and place of his life. The festival links music to the worlds of literature, painting, theater, philosophy, and politics and brings two kinds of audience together: those with a long history of interest in concert life and first-time listeners, who find the festival an ideal place to learn about and enjoy the riches of our musical past.

In its 26th season, the Bard Music Festival turns, for the first time, to Latin America. The focal point is Carlos Chávez (1899–1978), the central figure in Mexican music of the 20th century. Chávez was a tireless organizer, generous colleague, and the most eminent of Latin American modernist composers. His synthesis of markers of Mexican identity with modernism led Aaron Copland to praise him as “one of the first authentic signs of a New World with its own new music.”

The 2015 Bard Music Festival will showcase masterworks by Chávez and his contemporaries. Program themes will include the relationship of the Latin American musical scene to that in the United States; the role of European émigrés; the legacy and influence of Spain; Mexican musical traditions; and Chávez’s work as conductor and his place among the outstanding Latin composers of the 20th century. The work of Silvestre Revueltas, Alberto Ginastera, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and others will be heard, as will choral music from Mexico dating back to the 16th century. Proceeds from the gala evening will support the artistry and continuing presentation of the Bard Music Festival.


About the Kellogg Award

The Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters is given in recognition of significant contributions to the American artistic or literary heritage. It is named in honor of Charles Flint Kellogg (1909–80), a Bard College alumnus and trustee, who was an internationally respected historian and educator. Dr. Kellogg was instrumental in establishing the Arts and Letters Award, which, before his death, was given in the name of Alfred Jay Nock, the noted journalist and biographer, who was also a Bard alumnus and faculty member.

Previous recipients include, among others, Mary Lee Settle, Isaac Bashevis Singer, E. L. Doctorow, Anthony Hecht ’44, John Ashbery, Susan Rothenberg, Stephen Sondheim, Elliott Carter, John Tyrrell, Henry Luce III, Sidney Geist ’35, Jonathan Tunick ’58, Rhoda Levine ’53, Mary Caponegro ’78, Christopher Guest ’70, Mimi Levitt, Rikki Ducornet ’64, Daniel Manus Pinkwater ’63, John P. Boylan ’67, and Anne Bogart ’74.

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This event was last updated on 04-23-2015