Dudamel and the L.A. Phil bid a heartfelt farewell to Deborah Borda

Gustavo Dudamel didn’t dedicate his silken performance of Schubert’s elegant Fifth Symphony on Thursday night to Deborah Borda. But the touchingly tender slow movement spoke for itself.

After opening his program with the symphony, having reached the two-thirds point in his current Schubert symphony cycle, Dudamel returned to the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage with a microphone in hand, accompanied by Borda, his departing Los Angeles Philharmonic boss, and by the orchestra’s board chairman, Jay Rasulo.

“It has been an amazing journey,” Dudamel said in his farewell speech to Borda, who leaves her post as president and chief executive here to head (and, the orchestra world hopes, save) the troubled New York Philharmonic after her historic 17-year tenure with the L.A. Phil. In explaining that journey “from being my stalker to becoming my lover,” Dudamel said: “Even if I have been hard sometimes, I love you.”

It was the orchestra’s brief, formal tribute to Borda, who oversaw the completion of Disney Hall and its celebrated opening, who empowered then-Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen to realize such grand visions for the hall as the Peter Sellars and Bill Viola multimedia “Tristan Project,” who followed Dudamel around the world in her effort to hire him to succeed Salonen, who created Youth Orchestra L.A. (YOLA) and who turned a financially struggling orchestra into a the most prosperous and adventurous major ensemble in the world. “I hope no one is recording this,” Dudamel said (fat chance), but thanks to Borda, “we have become the envy of the world.”

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