Deborah Borda: Mirga is the new Dudamel

Deborah Borda: Mirga is the new Dudamel


norman lebrecht

May 14, 2018

In a season trailer with NYC-Arts, the New York Phil president says: ‘One of the most gifted conductors I have seen in my career. Her name is Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. Hard to pronounce, so I call her MGT.

‘When I saw Mirga conduct it reminded me of the impact it had  when I saw Gustavo for the first time.’

Mirga will make her NY Phil debut next season.

Watch the interview here.


  • Anon says:

    Ha! All hype!

    • La Verita says:

      Well, Ms. Borda didn’t give her definition of “gifted” — and remember, Borda’s main job is to fill the concert hall. Gifted with charisma and gifted with musical insight are 2 different things — and while her choices have the former, there are clearly those who feel they lack the latter.

    • YoYo Mama says:

      Yes, what is with this cannonball public relations assault on the world for “Mirga?” I find it insulting. She looks rather pathetic to me. Politics, not art.

  • Tony says:

    Mirga is more substance and less hype, if you have to make comparisons.

  • Harald says:


    Typical American hysterical hype….

  • Caravaggio says:

    Wow to equate MGT with Dudamel does a disservice to MGT and to the profession in general.

    • erich says:

      I would gave credited Borda with more sense. Comparisons are always ridiculous and do more harm than good .

  • FS60103 says:

    Opinion seems divided. Those who haven’t heard her call it hype (often served with a side-order of misogyny. “Hysterical”: very classy). Those who have think she’s something special, even if they concede that, at 30, any conductor would still have a long way to go. Hmm, whom to believe..?

    Heard Dudamel last week in London, and if you actually listen to his music-making instead of all the hating re his popularity / politics / haircut /ethnicity etc, it turns out he’s actually pretty bloody good too. Funny, that.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Odd how some people refuse to believe that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

    • V.Lind says:

      Yes, amazing that the LA Phil and the various other orchestras that have employed him or welcomed him as a guest conductor, and the various associations, magazines, etc. that have honoured him with awards, are so taken in by all the hype to the point of ignoring the musicianship. How wrong they all are and how right a few nasty-minded types who populate this site and decry all sorts of talent that has found welcome in the most respected venues in the world with the most respected orchestras and institutions, from Dudamel to Yuja Wang. Overhype is damaging (is SD listening, re Mirga, who apparently was born without original sin?). Reading yesterday about the young BBC Musician of the Year, I was reminded of hearing Yuja Wang, when just beyond her own teens, playing the Prokofiev 2. It was a revelation, and one of those piano experiences that you never want to end. Yes, I loved her Grieg 1 less, but did not therefore drop any notion that she was a good pianist with amazing gifts.

      Slagging off people who have made, as Dudamel has, substantial careers,strikes me always as ludicrously petty, just because he may make musical choices contrary to our own preferences (or, in some cases with him, political ones). The latest figure to attract the perpetual naysayers around here is Yannick Nezet-Seguin,based seemingly upon very little exposure — and of course essentially accusing the Philadelphia Orchestra people of being without judgment.

      Tiresome and childish.

    • Sue says:

      I’ve seen him in Vienna with the LAPO in 2011 and 18 months ago (on TV) at the Wiener Philharmonkier Neujahrskonzert. Was pleased with both.

  • Doug says:

    If she is the “next Dudamel” I’m already bored.

  • Anthony Kershaw says:

    The real star is the musicians committee of the CBSO. Man, can they pick ‘em!

  • collin says:

    “MGT”: the branding has already begun.

    So crass, so cheap… It’s all baloney.

    Indeed, “MGT” reminds me of the baloney commercial.

    “… My baloney has a second name, it’s M-A-Y-E-R … ‘Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A”

    ‘Cause Deborah Borda has a way with B-A-L-O-N-E-Y.

    Fuggedaboutit, New York ain’t cultureless LA, no way you gonna sell your baloney MGT in this town the way you sold the Dude in that town.

    Advice to Jaap van Zweden (another hard name, but apparently not young and sexy enough to be worthy of the brand JVZ): start looking for a new job, ’cause DB is gonna name MGT the next MD of the NYP.

    • Chris Clift says:

      The unwritten assumption is that Mirga would WANT to tie herself to the NYP.

      As someone who goes to her concerts quite often in Symphony Hall, I get the feeling that she has quite a lot of unfinished business with her current orchestra.

    • Michael Comins says:

      Nonsense! JvZ is just becoming the NYP’s MD next season with a lengthy contract and the approbation of everyone involved.

    • jtrevino says:

      NY Phil doesn’t need any of the success, acclaim or just plain excitement from cultureless LA Phil. We can ride on our past and aging laurels. NYC is the best. LA isn’t at all passing us by culturally. Just keep saying it over and over…

  • M2N2K says:

    In one way, MGT is already very much like GD: overrated by some and underrated by others. As are most other conductors, actually.

    • Derek says:

      That is very true. No conductor will be liked by everyone.

      No conductor is perfect but some of those who pass judgement are, of course! 🙂

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        In the words of Gustav Mahler – the most ‘interventionist’ conductor of all time – from an interview late in his life in New York: a conductor is a necessary evil.

  • anon says:

    It’s not that MGT and The Dude are bad conductors, they are no less talented as their older, uglier, less sexy, flabbier, greyer, more wrinkled colleagues, but that it is utterly dispiriting and cynical how supposedly serious orchestra management is marketing the latest, youngest, newest, sexiest conductors… And that it works on a good chunk of the supposedly serious audience.

    If I want to watch and listen to the latest hot thaang, I’d watch and listen to Cardi B. anytime over MGT. (If you know who Cardi B. is, you have no business on this site, lol!)

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I agree.

      If current practices are a good predictor of the future, in 25 years Mirga and the Dude will be more experienced, better musicians, but the spotlight will have moved on to the younger talent, possibly people who are in diapers as I am writing this statement.

      • Yes Addison says:

        Current practices, the spotlight moving on to the young…I don’t have to wrack my brain to think of middle-aged or elderly conductors who are always spoken of in reverent tones, still make news with everything they do, and command enormous fees from venues lucky enough to secure their services.

        If Dudamel, Nézet-Séguin, and “MGT” continue on their present trajectories, I am sure they will one day be elder eminences as Pappano, Gergiev, Muti, et cetera, presently are. They won’t have anything to fear from the new kids.

        • Greg says:

          Eventually the pendulum swings the other way and we have old conductors whose performances take on a faux gravitas simply because they somehow can still wave a baton into their 80s or 90s. Is Haitink really setting the stage on fire these days? Did Celibidache? Dohnanyi? Maazel? Karajan? Are/were they really saying anything musically profound? Or do they just get a pass because they made it around the block a bunch of times?

          • Petros Linardos says:

            Sometimes the pendulum swings too far with octogenarian conductors. Many of them get lionized simply because of old age, but not all are that much better musically.

            For some, old age finally brings the recognition they deserved but didn’t necessarily enjoy earlier: Wand, Mackerras, Skrowaczewski, Blomsted… Some also do or did some of their most profound work in old age.

            But I agree that for every Blomsted there are quite a few other aging conductors who don’t or didn’t set the stage on fire. Some peaked earlier. For instance, I don’t think that Karajan, Solti or Maazel did their best work in their last years.

  • Rob says:

    Undervalued is Andrey Boreyko.

    Im not keen on Dudamel, Mirga, Harding or Ticciati.

    I’m lucky I can put a disc of Weingartner’s Brahms on and hear how it used to be done.

    • MacroV says:

      I’ll agree about Boreyko, and any number of other terrific conductors who don’t get a lot of attention but are fantastic musicians (the late Franz-Paul Decker being perhaps the best example I can think of).

      But how old was Weingartner when he made that recording? The trouble many people have with today’s conductors is that they’re not old or dead yet.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      . . . and we’re lucky that it’s YOU who can put on Weingartner’s Brahms and here how it used to go. Personally, I think the best Brahms symphony is Dvorak 7.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    She’s already plotting how to get rid of Jaap…

    • John Borstlap says:

      The best conductors are the (almost) bald conductors: Adrian Boult, Haitink, Furtwängler, Nézet-Séguin, Fischer, Eschenbach, Solti, Ormandy, vZweden, Nicolai Malko, Järvi. Barenboim is almost there.

      • Chris Clift says:

        For someone who frequently writes here as if he knows a thing or two about the subject, this comment about follically challenged conductors is a load of tosh!

      • JoBe says:

        Well Mr. Borstlap, Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, Herbert von Karajan, Karel Ancerl, Leonard Bernstein, Ferenc Fricsay, Sergiu Celibidache, Rudolf Kempe, Hans Knappertsbusch, Leopold Stokowski and Arturo Toscanini were not bald… it must be some other factor. But I agree on Gennady Rozhdestvensky! (woops, you didn’t mention him)

        • Barry Guerrero says:

          As long as I don’t have to look at Mariss Janson’s protruding beaver teeth, I’m good to go (and even then, it’s only on videos that you have to see that). Seriously folks, I don’t go to symphony concerts to spend all my time worrying about the conductor. They’re a necessary part of the experience. Sure, some are better than others, but I would love it if orchestras didn’t need them at all. Regardless, I’m mostly there for the music that they’re playing.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Add Mitropoulos to the challenged group. Fricsay too.

          But I have always associated baldness with great cellists. Casals was the founding father of a great lineage that included such luminaries Rostropovitch and, Starker. Even the early music movement is represented, kind of, with Bylsma.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        . . . maybe Mirga should shave her head then.

  • Marg says:

    Yay for a woman conductor making such news!!

  • Sue says:

    @ Anon: …”their older, uglier, less sexy, flabbier, greyer, more wrinkled colleagues”.

    I love Riccardo Muti and think he’s still very sexy at more than 70 years of age!!

  • MacroV says:

    Same misleading click-bait from Norman (and same predictable reactions from the regulars).

    Borda said the IMPACT of seeing Mirga for the first time was similar to when she first saw Dudamel. She didn’t say they’re the same.

    I felt a similar impact (“Who is THAT?”) when I first heard Natalie Dessay, Janos Starker, Martin Frost, and Stanley Jordan. But they are in no way the same.

  • Eric says:

    Not to be confused with MTT, of course.
    Standby for mass rush of agents attempting to patent artist acronyms…

  • John Willan says:

    As a former managing director of the London Philharmonic, fortunate enough to have had on my roster Tennstedt, Solti, Jansons, Muti, Mehta, Haitink, Rattle, Welser-Most, to name but a few, I had to read this 3 times……

    Deborah if you, as current custodian of the orchestra of Mahler, Toscanini, Stokowski, Mehta, Boulez and Bernstein to name but a few, think “the Dude” is a serious conductor, classical music in the US is all but finished.

    Mirga is one of the most refreshingly important ambassadors for this fast becoming dumbed down art from. As an optimist, however, I am convinced she will probably ignore any silly comparisons.

    Please show her a little more respect.

    • M2N2K says:

      Last time I checked, neither Berlin Phil nor Wiener Phil were based “in the US”, so you should explain to those two pretty decent orchestras that for many years now they have been performing, touring and recording with a conductor who is not “serious” enough for you.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Not only that, I we think we can make a very interesting comparison here: Dudamel/L.A. vs. Mehta/L.A. Just from my only experiences with the L.A. Phil. I would say that that score-card would be a lot closer than you might think. Then again, Dudamel has had the advantage of Disney Hall. Rattle did give a really great Mahler 10 (Cooke III) in L.A. But then again, that’s his big piece, isn’t it?

    Really, isn’t it time to stop focusing on conductors and just get back to the music? I would dare say that the vast majority of people couldn’t begin to identify conductors in blind, A/B , ‘drop the needle’ type comparison tests, unless it were something blatantly obvious (like Toscanini vs. Furtwaengler).