Deborah Borda: I work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week

Deborah Borda: I work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week


norman lebrecht

October 23, 2020

From a Reuters interview with the NY Philharmonic president:

Running these iconic large-scale institutions is more a way of life than a regular job. You’re essentially on call 24/7 because in the performing arts, things happen day and night. You might have a soloist getting sick or a financial problem or a tour issue.

What compounds that is that so much of our work takes place at night because performances are at night. You go to the office during the day, you go to the performances and then very often you entertain people after the performance, whether it’s fundraisers or musicians. It’s a job you live….

(Since Covid) I’m working 12-hour days on a regular basis, six days a week sometimes.

More here.


  • yujafan says:

    I work seven days a week, but I don’t shout about it.

    • pastore says:

      But if you were being interviewed by Reuters, I imagine you might mention it.

    • MacroV says:

      She didn’t shout; she just tells the reality of her job. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows the business.

    • Papageno says:

      and I still don’t like Yuja Wang

    • marcus says:

      You just did. Still, I take your point that banging on about how tough your gig is (one which you presumably volunteered for in the first place) looks like special pleading-not a good look when so many players would love to be getting any paid work of any sort.

      • M2N2K says:

        That would certainly be true if DB was “banging on”, but all I see her doing in that interview is explaining a little bit about what her job really is like – even during this deceptively quiet time – for so many who have no idea, as evidenced by quite a few of the comments here.

    • violafan says:

      the irony of this comment…

    • M2N2K says:

      There is no need to shout when one can learn from “yujafan” and just very quietly write about it on a blog where the entire world can read it and be impressed.

    • Nick2 says:

      What a stupid comment! I guess Reuter’s just forgot to call you up.

    • Marg says:

      Perhaps you should click the link and read the full interview. You might find a different attitude than the one you have imputed, is being expressed.

    • Perspective says:

      Perhaps the point here is that even though musicians, dancers, actors, etc. are not working (some of them still making a percentage of salary, some not), most of those responsible for the survival of the institutions are working harder than ever. In these devastatingly frustrating times for the performing arts, it is easy to adopt a jaded, “why are the administrators still getting paid?” attitude. They are working more hours, under greater financial stresses than ever before. At some point, when we get through this, whether it will another year or longer, we should greatly appreciate those who have persevered.

    • Manuela Hoelterhoff says:

      With a salary of $2 million Ms. Borda might consider working seven days a week personally ripping out every other seat and every other row. That would surely improve the sound of a hall that was never intended to contain 2,700 seats. The obsessive pursuit of rebuilding Geffen in this era is nuts.

    • Couperin says:

      Exactly, are we supposed to feel bad for her? Or does she want more money?

  • mary says:

    Who in America is NOT working 12 hrs a day, 6 days a week?

    Boohoo, I have to dine with boring board members (gratis), sit through a Dudamel performance (gratis), then suffer through an after party with the Hollywood crowd… then do it all over tomorrow.

    Pray tell, what exactly is she doing post-Covid working 12 hour days? There are only so many ways to completely close down a hall.

  • Jessel says:

    Yeah and? No one forced her to take the job.

  • Papageno says:

    And she made $1.3m /yr while at LA Phil.

  • Tamino says:

    12 * 6 * (52 – 2 weeks vacation) makes 3,600 hours a year.
    She gets paid 2 millions a year?
    Makes an hourly rate of 555 US $. If she worked more hours a year, her yearly salary would be more reasonable.

  • Una says:

    So are the folk in Manchester once on £10 an hour now on £6.70 an hour on the job support scheme – if they have a job at all.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    If I counted going to concerts and parties as work, then I guess I’m working a lot of hours too.

    • NotToneDeaf says:

      I’m guessing that when you go to a concert you aren’t stopped every 30 seconds by someone who has a complaint or a “helpful suggestion.” Or when you go to a party, you’re probably not working the room and remembering who to thank for a contribution, who is due for a contribution ask, who you’ve just met who could contribute – and not forgetting to pay attention to the conductor so that he (or rarely, she) doesn’t get annoyed because of lack of attention. It’s an insult for you to imply that those of us who work/manage these events just sit there and sip champagne throughout the night. You have no clue what’s involved in being a good arts executive.

  • Alviano says:

    The New York story: we are all so busy; we work long hours; we never have time off.

  • Barbie says:

    Rich girl problems.

  • Gramme Decker says:

    With no performance work on for anyone and no income, she needs to stop drawing salary just like everyone else and stop leeching off a dead horse.

    She can go paint her nails on her own bloody time!

  • David Boxwell says:

    6 days a week times 12 hours a day = 3,744 hours a year.

    Last annual compensation (LA Phil) = $1,396,181

    Hourly salary = $372.91

  • Musician says:

    She is the best in the business and NYP is lucky to have her while LAP now has Chad the Impaler running the show.

  • RM says:

    For the bucks she’s earning at a NFProfit? Seems more than about right.

  • PHF says:

    Some people work as much but earning only a small part of her salary… AND they are not complaining. Cheers.

  • Nick says:

    What is she doing 12 hours a day really when all concerts are cancelled to summer of 2021?!?

  • James Weiss says:

    Borda makes close to $2m annually so that works out to $534 per hour. The minimum wage in the US is under $15 per hour in most places. I’m betting most people would trade places with her and not whine about it.

    • NotToneDeaf says:

      And most people wouldn’t have a clue what to do. She’s not an overpaid fast food employee. Comparing what she does to the minimum wage scale is absurd. You must be an American – no respect for experience or expertise.

  • Michael says:

    Considering her outsized salary in a field with constant financial concerns, she doesn’t work enough. Ms Borda is part of the problem with the American orchestra. In the current environment, her rush to cancel rather than find ways to engage her musicians and her audience shows her concerns are financial rather than artistic. Her stated notion that the orchestra has to change for years to come is an abject surrender, based I’m guessing because her political ideology makes her hesitant to support anything construed as elitist. Kurt Masur said this about her years ago.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Ms. Borda is no doubt an accomplished administrator, but should any administrator be the star of the show? Granted, there’s not much going on these days in the concert halls and theaters of New York, but I’d prefer that the Phil’s press department highlight the musicians, without whom there would be no orchestra to administer.

  • frank says:

    Since there are no NY Phil concerts and will be none for the foreseeable future , I am at a loss to understand what could possibly require Ms. Borda’s attention 24/7 , and what could justify her receiving a multi million $ salary while not working. Nice work if you can get it.

    • M2N2K says:

      The present situation is quite unprecedented and extremely challenging for American arts organizations, so it may very well require even more fundraising efforts and long-term planning work than usual from senior administrators, compared to “normal” times when everything is running more or less smoothly.

  • Just saying says:

    I dunno, it’s going to take a lot to rescue the NY Phil…even before the pandemic, I feel like they were losing ground to a lot of other American orchestras like LA or Philly…

  • Plush says:

    I don’t feel that she works nearly enough hours.

  • Marge O. says:

    That’s what usa-ians did. they work day and night. they deprive their tax and debt slaves basic life needs. it was corporate work plantation masquerading as a “country”