Stories » Yo-Yo Ma and Deborah Borda discuss 'citizen musicians' at Harvard Business School / The Harvard Crimson

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Yo-Yo Ma and Deborah Borda discuss 'citizen musicians' at Harvard Business School / The Harvard Crimson

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Creating and performing music can seem far removed from efforts to promote social justice, but two prominent speakers urged an audience at Harvard Business School Wednesday to see them as intimately related pursuits. Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma '76 and Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic, in a conversation moderated by Harvard Business School Professors Rohit Deshpandé and Henry McGee, discussed the ways in which "citizen musicians" can help build a more just and free society as an extension of their work as artists.

"What the New York Philharmonic is doing, and what I'm devoting the rest of my life to doing, is really thinking about social impact," Ma said and dismissed the idea of "art for art's sake."

Borda spoke of the New York Philharmonic's efforts to engage with social issues, including gender equality. Recognizing that "all the music we play was written by men," the organization is launching an initiative next year - the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote - to have 19 women write major world premieres for the orchestra. "We are thinking about how we can partner in other ways to broaden this conversation … because our world has been changed now by #MeToo," she said.

READ THE FULL Harvard Crimson ARTICLE