Deborah Borda starts hiring at the New York Philharmonic

We hear she has just announced Isaac Thompson as Vice President of Artistic Planning.

Thompson is the mind behind the Cincinnati Symphony’s innovative Pélleas trilogy with director/designer James Darrah. He also put in place a new artistic model for the May Festival, bringing in Juanjo Mena as Principal Conductor and Gerard McBurney as Creative Partner.

There are still plenty of holes to be filled in the NY Phil’s executive suite. More hands needed at the wheel.

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  • She’s basically building an artistic team around her that inevitably diminishes the role of the music director to that of a principal conductor.

    It’s the Met model. If the Met may be at times referred to in terms of the James Levine era, it is more often spoken of in terms of the Rudolph Bing era, the Joseph Volpe era, the Peter Gelb era.

    No more Bruno Walter’s Philharmonic or Bernstein’s Philharmonic, but Borda’s.

    the times they are a changin’

    • The Philharmonic was never the Walter Philharmonic because he was never, by his own preference we are told, the music director. After Toscanini, Arthur Judson wanted conductors in that slot he could control, hence a succession of, at that time, lesser lights and shared conductorships, including Walter (“music advisor”) along with Rodzinski, Mitropoulos, Judson would never let so strong a personality as Stokowski assume full reign after Philadelphia. Judson tried at least to keep Mitropoulos on a tight leash (from Barbirolli through Rodzinski and Mitropoulos it was Judson who really called the shots) and it was only after Judson left the Philharmonic that so strong a force as Bernstein could stamp his imprint on the the orchestra and assume the reins. By accident or design, the orchestra has never had anyone as strong since.
      I still think the orchestra’s hashtag should be #backtoCarnegie.

  • Isaac is a huge score for NYP. His work with us was exceptional, and (unsurprisingly) Ms. Borda is staffing up at a high level.

  • The NY Phil is hiring from all the wrong places.

    The NY Philharmonic’s competition is not other orchestras, so hiring Borda away from the LA Phil, or hiring Thompson away from Cincinnati Symphony, will not do much for it.

    The NY Phil’s competition is New York City itself.

    The billionaire class is actually giving a lot of money, just not to the traditional institutions like the NY Phil or the Met Opera or the Met Museum (which are all suffering delays and fund raising uncertainties), rather to new dynamic multi-media arts centers being built all over the city.

    A recent NYT article details the current state of affairs:

    Borda’s hire (and her hires) seem to generate excitement from within the insular world of orchestras, but is that enough?

    • Whatever the challenge, hiring best people available is the surest way of getting a chance to succeed, regardless of where they are coming from.

  • Isaac has done terrific work and is a great choice for the NY job. Anyone who had the (dis)pleasure of working with Isaac’s predeccesor will surely be excited about this new appointment!

  • Makes no difference who is running the front office, if orchestras don’t adapt and start luring young people into their theaters, the NY Phil and other classical groups will go the way of the dodo

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