Can orchestral music and electronic sound comfortably coexist? Deborah Borda, Managing Director, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association

Deborah Borda
Photo by Michael Childers, courtesy Los Angeles Philharmonic

There is no question that the Internet, electronic manipulation of orchestral sound, and multimedia presentation are issues that symphony orchestras must explore. At the LA Philharmonic, we have experimented with sophisticated electronic sound design in working with John Adams, we have added film and other visual elements to our recent Stravinsky festival concerts, and we have collaborated with video artist Bill Viola. And of course, the question of online delivery of our musical content is an issue we are all trying to navigate. However, for each step taken, I always ask the question, ‘Will this make for a better musical experience? Are we going to enhance that experience without compromising the core of what we do?’ The orchestra and the music it makes must remain at the heart of these experiments; otherwise, we are just using technology for its own sake. As long as we keep to this principle, I think that the use of technology in conjunction with a symphony orchestra can indeed create new ways for composers to create works of unpredictable sonoroties, structure, and drive.