Few artists are as important to the fabric of their communities as JoAnn Falletta. Acclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation”, she serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and the Principal Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra. An effervescent and exuberant figure on the podium, she has been praised by The Washington Post as having “Toscanini’s tight control over ensemble, Walter’s affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.” Both on and off the podium, she is a vibrant ambassador for music and an inspiring artistic leader.
Since stepping up to the podium as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the fall of 1999, Maestro Falletta has been credited with bringing the Philharmonic to a new level of national and international prominence. In 2009, for the first time in its 74-year history, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra won two Grammy awards for the Best Classical Performance and Best Classical Composition for its John Corigliano: Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan; Three Hallucinations CD that was released in 2008. The orchestra was also nominated for a third Grammy in the Best Engineered Album, Classical category for its Respighi: Church Windows recording. In March 2010, JoAnn Falletta led the Buffalo Philharmonic in the five-city Florida Friends Tour in March 2010, the first multi-city tour since the 1988 European tour.
Under her leadership, the BPO has made an unprecedented number of highly acclaimed recordings, and has entered into a multi-disc contract with Naxos, representing the first commercial recording contract the orchestra has had with an international label in more than 20 years. The BPO is one of the leading orchestras for the Naxos label and one of the most frequently recorded orchestras in America, with nine Naxos CDs released since JoAnn began with the orchestra. The Orchestra has simultaneously established its own recording label, releasing CDs with marketing partnerships with the Albright Knox and Burchfield Penney Museums and Darwin Martin House in Buffalo.
Falletta, who has established a reputation for conducting artistically important, but seldom-heard works, is embarking on a multi-year recording project of the lost works of Marcel Tyberg, the brilliant composer and Holocaust victim. The first release in this series was be Tyberg’s Symphony No. 3. Upcoming Naxos projects by Falletta and the BPO include the orchestral works of Duke Ellington and another Tyberg disc. This season, Ms. Falletta once again leads the orchestra in a number of concerts to be broadcast nationally on American Public Radio's Performance Today and SymphonyCast, and international broadcasts through the European Broadcasting Union.
This year marks Maestro Falletta’s 19th season as Music Director of the Virginia Symphony. Under her direction, the VSO has risen to celebrated artistic heights and become recognized as one of the nation’s leading regional symphony orchestras. Recent achievements of the Virginia Symphony under the baton of Music Director JoAnn Falletta include thirteen recordings for national release, a performance of Peter and the Wolf which was aired on National Public Radio, and groundbreaking performances at the Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Highlights of this season include the world premiere of Behzad Ranjbaran’s Concerto for Violin and Viola and Adolphus Hailstork’s Gift of the Magi, as well as the U.S. premiere of John Tavener’s cello concerto Popule Meus and the Virginia premiere of Roberto Sierra’s Sinfonia No. 4, each to be conducted by JoAnn Falletta. She will also lead the VSO in a performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto with guest artist Norman Krieger, which will be recorded for commercial release.
Ms. Falletta has been invited to guest conduct many of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Highlights of her recent and upcoming guest conducting appearances include the Netherlands Radio Orchestra, National Philharmonic of Lithuania, Orquestra de Extremadura (Spain), Warsaw National Philharmonic, Kraków Philharmonic, Orchestra National de Belgique, Seoul Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, Ensemble Kanazawa (Japan), Orchestra of Asturias (Spain), Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre National De Lyon, Northwest German Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Lisbon Metropolitan Symphony, and the orchestras of Dallas, Toronto, New Jersey, Seattle, Honolulu, Utah, Colorado, Louisville and San Antonio. She led the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center Spring Gala, A Celebration of Women in the Arts, featuring performances by Suzanne Farrell, Patti LaBelle, Audra McDonald and Reba McEntire, among others. In August 2012, she made her conducting debut at the BBC Proms. She has guest conducted over 100 orchestras in North America, including the orchestras of Philadelphia, Montreal, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Houston, Rochester, Edmonton, Quebec and the National Symphony. Abroad she has appeared with the Residentie Orchestra of the Hague, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Nurnberg Philharmonic, Orchestre de Bretagne, Orquestra Filarmonica de la UNAM, Mexico City Philharmonic, the National Orchestra of Mexico, China’s National Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica de Michoacan, and the orchestras of Dortmund, Capetown, Bilbao, Singapore, Tokyo Metropolitan, Wuppertal, Mexico City and Shanghai, and the Mannheim Orchestra. Ms. Falletta’s summer activities have taken her to numerous music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, Hollywood Bowl, Grand Teton, Wolf Trap, Eastern Music, Cabrillo, OK Mozart International, Lanaudiere, Peter Britt, Breckenridge, Brevard and Interlochen, among others.
She is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award for exceptionally gifted American conductors, the coveted Stokowski Competition, and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter Awards for conducting, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s prestigious John S. Edwards Award. She is an ardent champion of music of our time, introducing over 400 works by American composers, including more than 80 world premieres. Hailing her as a “leading force for the music of our time”, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers honored JoAnn Falletta with her 10th ASCAP award in 2008 in recognition of her work as a conductor, communicator, recording artist, audience builder, champion of American composers and distinguished musical citizen. This fall, Ms. Falletta was appointed to be a Member of the National Council on the Arts, the advisory body of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Both on and off the podium, Falletta is a dedicated advocate for her orchestras. She was named Buffalo’s most influential community leader and Buffalo and Erie County’s Artist of the Year. She received the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies Award outstanding leadership in the Marcel Tyberg Musical Legacy project. During her tenure, the Orchestra’s budget has grown by 25 percent, subscriptions have reached record levels, the popular summer Artpark series has been reestablished, outreach activities have increased, and the BPO has regained its national prominence through recordings and broadcasts. The JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition has brought international acclaim and attention to the classical guitar, the Buffalo region and the BPO. Falletta is a member of the Western New York Women’s Hall of Fame, and received the Human Relations Award from the Buffalo/Niagra Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. In Virginia, she earned a star on Norfolk’s Legends of Music Walk of Fame in recognition of her effect on the appreciation of classical music in Hampton Roads and Virginia.
Maestro Falletta’s growing discography, which currently includes over 50 titles, consists of recordings with the London Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Czech National Symphony, Philadelphia Philharmonia and Women’s Philharmonic, among others. In addition to the two Grammy Awards and three Grammy Nominations for 2009, Ms. Falletta received a 2006 Grammy nomination for “Eventide” Concerto for English Horn, Harp, Percussion, and String Orchestra, by Kenneth Fuchs, from the CD An American Place (Naxos American Classics). Her 2007 recording of the music of Respighi and her 2003 recording of Griffes Orchestral Music, both on the Naxos label with the Buffalo Philharmonic, were selected as Editor’s Choice Recordings by Gramophone. In 2009, JoAnn and the BPO had two world premiere discs released on the Naxos label; Daron Hagen’s opera Shining Brow, based on the early years of Frank Lloyd Wright and a two “new” works by Franz Schubert, featuring the completion of Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony” and a newly orchestrated transcription of Death and the Maiden. Other recent discs include her first recording with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for the Naxos label, featuring the violin concertos on Dohnanyi, a second world premiere recording of the orchestral music of Kenneth Fuchs with the London Symphony, the music of Paul Schoenfield with the Prague Philharmonia, works of Aaron Copland with the BPO, and Borrowed Treasures, Ms. Falletta’s third disc of chamber music for guitar, featuring Ms. Falletta as guitarist.
Earlier discs of note include Burchfield Gallery, with music by Morton Gould and Jean Sibelius (BPO), Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, a recording of the Orchestra’s June 2004 performance in New York City, with music of Kodaly, Smetana and Zemlinsky, The American Cello, with the Virginia Symphony (Albany), Behzad Ranjbaran—Persian Trilogy, with the London Symphony (Delos), The Music of Frederick Converse (Naxos American Classics) and Pictures at a Gallery by the Buffalo Philharmonic (Beau Fleuve), John Powell’s Virginia Symphony, with the Virginia Symphony (Albany), The American Clarinet, with the Czech National Symphony (Albany), Schubert’s Guitar (Koch), featuring Ms. Falletta as guitarist and arranger, Impressions of French Music and Rhapsodie with the Buffalo Philharmonic, and Peter and the Wolf and the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, with the Virginia Symphony and celebrities from National Public Radio, released under the NPR label.
Ms. Falletta made three recordings of works by women composers with the Women’s Philharmonic. Of special interest is her recording of works by Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Lili Boulanger and Germaine Tailleferre, which received a “Best Classical Recording” award from the National Association of Independent Record Distributors and a “Most Creative Programming” award from Classic CD Magazine. Additional recordings feature music by Poulenc, Ravel, Moross, Shulamit Ran, Elinor Armer and John Luther Adams.
Ms. Falletta’s radio and television credits include numerous appearances on NPR’s Performance Today, Fresh Air, and From the Top, WQXR, WNCN, CBS Sunday Morning, the Charlie Rose Show, the MacNeil Lehrer News Hour, BBC Radio, and several nationally televised performances on PBS including Live from Lincoln Center—Juilliard at 80, Seasons of Life with Mark O’Connor and the BPO, and a special PBS TV documentary about music with Penn & Teller. In 2008 – 09, she led the BPO in its second appearance on NPR’s From the Top, and hosted a national PBS televised special, Bernstein’s “Ode to Freedom”. As a writer, Ms. Falletta has contributed articles to Symphony Magazine, the New York Concert Review, the Virginian Pilot, Portfolio Magazine, and Traffic East Magazine. Ms. Falletta’s first poetry book, Love Letters to Music, was published in the fall of 2004.
In addition to her current posts with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony, and the Ulster Orchestra, Ms. Falletta has held the positions of artistic advisor to the Honolulu Symphony, music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and music director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Queens Philharmonic and the Women’s Philharmonic.
Ms. Falletta received her undergraduate degree from the Mannes School of Music in New York, and her master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School.