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Deborah Borda affirms she likes L.A. job, though her old N.Y. post is coming open

September 30, 2010 |  5:00 am

Not surprisingly, Monday's announcement that Zarin Mehta plans to step down as president of the New York Philharmonic after the 2011-12 season already has raised blog speculation about his possible successor. 

One name that's likely to be tossed around in coming weeks is that of Deborah Borda, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who ran the New York Phil for nearly a decade before Mehta took over. Borda, 61, a native New Yorker, was the subject of this L.A. Times profile Sunday.

In a brief interview this week apropos of Mehta's departure, Borda was asked whether she plans to end her own management career in Los Angeles. "I might just have the greatest orchestral job in the world," she said, declining to comment further on the record.

Deborah Borda in Disney Hall 

Whoever takes the N.Y. Phil post will have plenty to keep her or him occupied. Like every orchestra, the New York symphony faces major challenges, from harnessing new technology to attracting younger, more diverse audiences and coping with donation drop-offs caused by the shaky economy.

There's also the nettlesome matter of the long-delayed renovation of Avery Fisher Hall, the Phil's home. Borda, who had tried to renovate the hall during her New York tenure in the 1990s, said the job was complicated because the 2,738-seat hall belongs to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts complex, creating multiple layers of bureaucratic oversight.

David Bohnett, the L.A. Phil's board chairman, said in an interview last summer that he hoped Borda, who is under contract, still would be running the orchestra when it celebrates its centennial in 2019.

Told of Bohnett's remark Borda replied: "Great! They can wheel me out!"

-- Reed Johnson

Photo of Borda at Walt Disney Concert Hall  Credit: Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times