tv Tavis Smiley PBS April 13, 2017 6:00am-6:31am PDT
good evening from los angeles, i'm tavis smiley. tonight, we are talking about music and the arts. first a conversation with the former president and the ceo of the los angeles fill har mphilh deborah border widely credited for lifting it from the shadow of a orchestra to the world stage. she is soon going to take her magic to the big apple as the orchestrator of the new york phil. and we will talk to her about her decision to move back to new york and the arts funding and, and whether it is the collaboration with drake and the seat at the table for solange's latest album, a name for himself, now, invoking the likes of bill withers, the british born musician is going to tell us what shaped him and why
deborah border is the former ceo and president of the los angeles philharmonic, and spearhead ed the opening of disney concert hall and brought in the conductor gustavo and built the financial coffers of the institution and oversaw the rebuilding of the hollywood bowl, and she has stepped down to become the ceo of the new new york philharmonic in ept september, and should i get down on my knees. please, please, don't go. don't go. i want to beg you to stay. this is so not fair. you are leaving us. >> and hey, you know i'm a new yorker, and hey, i did well becoming a californian here, and people always accused me of the new york accent and the new york walk. but i have loved it here. it has been the greatest of the professional 17 years of my life. it has been my joy, and my life's work. and so, it is time to return
home to my family, and to help one of the great orchestras besides the los angeles fill hor m monic, and it is funny that i have worked for two philharmonic, new york and los angeles, and two really to assume the rightful place in the pantheon of orchestras, because the new york philharmonic is 175 years old and the oldest orchestra in america. what is interesting to me about that is that you know that i am a futurist, and thinking about where can we go? what can we invent? and what i want to be able to be a part of is in working with the musicians, and the board and the community is to not be weighted down by the legacy, but to use it, to move to a vibrant and youthful 21st century future, because so much of what has happened here embodies what a orchestra of the 21st century can be like. >> that is the question though. can you do in new york what you did in l.a. and not be weighted
down by the legacy or by the expectations or the parameters of the new york crowd? >> well, we are going to see. >> yeah, yeah. >> i left there once before 17 years ago, because i was looking for challenges. one of the things about me is that frank gehry said that deborah loves jumping off cliffs but she lands on her feet. so it is going to be exciting and a challenge, and a moment in my life where i am up for doing this, and i think that i am up to doing it as well, and up for it. >> i listd nber of things in the topic of the conversation that you have done remarkably well, and that is why i am on my knees begging you not to leave and remarkably well here in los angeles, and of those thing, and perhaps what i did not list, what are you most proud of here in los angeles? >> i u put it in a larger sense. yes, the opening of walt disney concert hall, and really the reimaging of what a symphony orchestra could mean for to a
community. so in a way, bringing gustavo duhamel who has lit up the international community and what that is all going to is a core belief that music is important to the community, and that the community loves and values the los angeles philharmonic for all of the art and for all of the education and for what it can mean to people's hearts on an everyday basis. i think that the los angeles philharmonic really means something to angelinos, because they love it. they love it. it was not always that way. >> yes. to your point, what do you make of the -- hmm, u how do i put this, cultural? artistic and fashion, and renaissance that the city of l.a. has undergone that parallels nicely to the time that you have been here. what do you make of that and what role do you see the orchestra having played in that renaissance in this city?
>> well, you know a pivotal dinicly pivotal moment was the opening of the disney concert hall, because until that moment, it was an epic journey of 17 years of when it was first conceived to when it opened. you remember the downtown was like then. i remember at the press conference to announce my appointment to the philharmonic, and you could have shot a gun and nobody would have heard it. but today, there is the music city, and mocha and l.a. live -- >> yes. l.a. live. >> and exciting place and thousands of people are moving to downtown l.a., and maybe i am a little disney hall sep trick, but to -- centric, but to me, special way of the opening of that. it was not a big gala where people paid thousands of dollars
but we had phil the house, p-h-i-l, and so the first people to hear music there were the schoolchildren, and then thele schoolteachers and then the firemen and the policemen, and so then there was a series of one-hour concerts, and it really in that moment found its way into the heart of the community or made a start of it. that is how we have to think about thing, because nobody had done it before and now people do that, but at the time, it was considered sort of out of the box. >> i don't want you to the di vil divulge your finances, but one of the things is that you got more respect for the artists. we are told, and i have read at least that they may be the highest paid orchestra playerses in the world and certainly in the country, and without divulging that, give me a sense
of how you regard the players here, and what you did to make sure that they had a higher level of respect. >> well, you know, central to the success of the organization, you are have to look at what is the actual heart of the symphony orchestra, and that is the 106 women and men who make up the los angeles philharmonic, and i have the most profound respect for them. we have had great dialogue about where the orchestra is going, and where it should go and where it might go and where it shouldn't go. we have been able to work together very well. they dedicate their entire lives to being in this orchestra and to making it great. when we have an opening at the los angeles philharmonic or the new york fill har mon ig, 400 people apply, and we select one person. so my partnership with them, and their partnership with me has been one of the very special aspects of being here.
i really love them. i feel that coming back, coming back from them. what is at the basis of it is a mutual respect, a mutual respect, and i do much respect what i do, and i think that they have been really pleased to think of a positive future, because i am an optimist, and i'm an optimist, and optimists can get it done, because you can see all of the things that can go wrong or can go wrong, and if you can see what it is that can go right, and you set your mind and heart to it, you can get so much more done. >> and let me flip what you said earlier, i can make the argument given what you have achieved here in l.a. and where you are in the career, that you don't have to take the risk to go back to new york to take a risk of an orchestra that is losing money and that has to be more innovative and creative and that you don't have to make that risk in your career and why roll the dice that way? >> because i believe in music.
because i believe it is not one orchestral institution, but why not two flagship institutions on either coast, and besides, i love a good challenge, and i'm fiesty enough to think that it is a challenge. i have done well, and we will see. and i'm willing to take that risk, and there is a new conductor to come, and tell me. >> yes. and that is part of the reason that i am going, and by the way, it breaks my heart to the leave gustavo when this all got decided and happened very quickly, and we have been together for a long time. >> and how dud he take iid he t? >> well, we were both very sad, and it was a tearful conversation, but he is doing great. he is an innovator and one of the most profound geniuses that i have ever seen, and a natural natural talent and we met him when he was 24. and he is now in mid-30s and he
has a kid now, and he is a mature man with a vision for the future. so we will will always be friend, and i don't worry about him, and he has done amazing work, but the amazing work is in front of him. and i met von laden and i met somebody who is eeg er er in th same way that i am to take on the challenges and to think about things in a different way, and not to say, that we have done a-b-c-d and we are the new york philharmonic, and we will do a-b-c-d and i am saying, red, white, yellow, plu and looking at it completely differently if we can. i felt a partner. i felt a partner and also, he had just conducted with the philharmonic and i saw the musicians falling in love with him and responded right away, and they said, can we get this guy back, and so it a combinations of the matters. >> and i assume that there are benchmarks that you have said or will set to let you know if you are on the right track.
so can you give us a sense of what you have coming up over to next couple of years to know? >> well, you are asking me for a quantitative measurement of a great artistic institution, and okay, so i can give you metris.s >> okay. >> do we have a deficit? how much can we raise the endowment? what is the percentage of the attendance, and really, yeah. that is going to happen if other things happen. and what has to happen is a programmatic flair, and something that creates excitement within new york in the same way that we have an integration of the l.a. phil into the fabric of the community that we can have something like that in new york. now, what i won't say to you yet is that i know just how i am going the do this or how adrian peterson -- yap and i are going to do it, because it is the board and the staff coming together to create a great vision that touches people.
and that is, and you know what, you will get the buzz of that, and that is when you are going to be deciding in two the three years, do we want to have deborah border back on the the show? maybe not. i don't know. >> i cannot imagine that he, that you would ever be d disinvited to this program. let me say in closing that you have been kind to me personally, and to the show, and you and mr. duhamel and they are blessed to have you coming to new york, and i have no doubt in my mind that you will do everything that you have told them that you would do. all the best to you. >> and thank you for what you have done. i was sitting there in the dressing room looking at the people that you have interviewed and i said, what a strong representation of the arts. the arts can be so marginalized today, and thank you for doing ing that. >> well, i love the arts and i love to have you here. and all right. new york, i hate you [ laughter ] up next, singer and producer
sanford with us. stay with us. ♪ i am delight and pleased to welcome stanford sanford to this are program, the british born producer born in sierra leone, and he is getting a lot of love for the debut of the album called "process" and later in the program, you have a special treat that he is going to perform for us, and you do not want to miss this, i promise you. i am honored to have you on the program, brother. let me go right to the project, the album, and i pulled the liner note, because i am a fun -- fan of them, and before i could get to this i saw a photo of you and your precious mother, and you dedicated the project to your mother, and tell me about your mother. >> she is like a really someone who we kind of have already a similar nature, and i'm quite quiet, and she is quite quiet
and reserved and elegant and thoughtful and really like a caring woman. and yes, i was lucky to have her as a mother. yes. >> and did your mother and your father for that matter, and did they have any influence on your music? >> yeah, they did. with the p-- my dad bought a piano for the house when i was 3 years old and that had huge effect on my life, and my dad used to buy lots of music, so when i came home from work, and i saw my dad that he had fromis like things they bought from the spice girls to other music and they were very encouraging because they could say that i had a penchant for the music. so, yeah, they did have. >> and with so much eclectic sound around you and when your father is bringing home so many types and genres of the music,
how did you find your own musical way when you were exposed so to much stuff? >> i naturally gravitated towards the same things. >> like? >> like stevie wonder and -- >> can i say this -- >> can say something. >> i have had a milli yolion gu over the shows and when i talk to musical guests and talk about the influences, the first name out of their mouth is stevie wonder, and why is that? >> well, it is magical and he engrossed me. he is a magical man and the harmonic music, and the inventiveness and the range of the concept, and y yes shgsyes, something about, that i was addicted to from the age of 7 and then tracy chapman and so i gravitated towards it, and then like sort of carved out my own
sort of take. >> it is interesting, because think u of stevie, and the key poi points of your life and that project and he wrote that a year or two younger than you. >> that is crazy. >> he was that young. >> wow. >> and puts out an album like that, and it is unbelievable. >> yeah, yeah. >> and your stuff was pretty unbelievable, and particularly this song that you are going to play here in a few minutes. i have heard so many love songs over the years, but never heard a love song that is so melodic to a piano. tell me about this song. >> well, it is a song that i kind of wrote when i was like basically my mom was like diagnosed with cancer. i had moved out briefly to kind of make music, and when it was kind of diagnosis time, i moved back at home, and then literally sitting there on the sofa, and we were watching tv and my mom was there, and the line "no one
knows me like my piano and my mother" sort of came to me, and it is something that stayed with me, and then i expanded on it. i think it is like, obviously, the ode to my piano, but also to my mother. and it is the piano in my mother's house, and how formative, you know, you know, that period of time was for me. i could see it with something that i could not really contemplated before that it was not going to last forever, and it is impermanent and something that i took for granted coming back home, and being at mom's house, and my mom being there, and, yeah, my piano was something that has been there, and sort of stayed the same since i was really young. >> and you and i were talking before we came on the air as black men and our number one goal is to make our mama's proud, and everybody wants mama to be proud of them, and your mama did not live long enough to see this debut album, but she
saw enough of your success to know that you would be. >> and she didn't say how, but she would stop complaining and smiling more, and you could see that i was like supporting myself from making the music and it looked like things were going to be all right. that made me like so happy. i was like probably the happiest period of my life really when i kind of, and we had gotten on along really well. >> and i mentioned at the top of the interview here, and the top of the conversation that you seem most comfortable behind the scenes. i can tell you that you are a little shy. and how are you now navigating or how do you think that you are going to be navigating the process of being out front, because now it is all on you now. the spotlight is on you now, and not on drake anymore. it is on you. >> and it is a strange thing, and i guess that i am going with the flow a little bit, and seeing how i react to the certain situation, and learning as i go along. but i feel like i have sort of delayed this process or this thing, because i knew like in the past i was not quite ready
for any of it really as a person. some people might be -- >> to be out front you mean? >> yes. and just because of all of the things that come along with that. i am not the -- i felt like it was a little naive to it. and a little mystery, and now, i guess, you know, through the experiences of what i have had, i am more used to being able to let go of thing, and fail a little bit more, and sort of explore and not be so kind of scared. so, yeah, i am kind of seeing how things are going, and taking all of this in, and so, analyzing it. >> and i find that a lot of artists over time work their way into being transparent, and they work their way into being a authentic and open, but you started out that way. your stuff is just out there. >> yeah. yeah, a lot of it, the honest stuff just really comes out, and it is like i say, the piano, like i say, it might be a cliche thing to have the thoughts of
it, and then makeing it up, and it really was an escape for me, because it is going through a difficult time personally. yeah, that is where i would come out with things that i didn't know that i was think orger feeling, but my brain sort of knowing something about the flow when you are sitting there and improvising and singing, and the stuff that kind of came out of me really. that is sort of like the beauty of the piano. >> and it sounds like process to me. >> yeah. [ laughter ] process, and that is the name of the album and the debut, and you do not want to miss picking it up and adding it to the collection. i promise you that this name you will hear time and time again. that is the show tonight, and closing ous out is sanford closing us out with "nobody knows me like the piano."
good ooef evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley and last year americans chose a political outsider when they elected donald j. are trump the 45th president of the united states. he ran a highly unconventional campaign for sure, and since he has taken office he has broken all kinds of political norms. tonight, a conversation with john dean, the former white house counsel to richard nixon and he argues that president tr trump's rule breaking is beyond unorthodox, but down right going to test our democracy. we en thank you for joining us, and insight fful conversation coming up with john dean in just a moment.
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