Hailed as a “leading force for the music of our time”, for her work as a conductor, communicator, recording artist audience builder, champion of American composers and distinguished musical citizen, JoAnn Falletta serves as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center. Her conducting has been acclaimed 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.”
Internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music and an inspiring artistic leader, Ms. Falletta is invited to guest conduct many of the world’s finest orchestras. She has guest conducted over a hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Her North America guest conducting appearances have included the orchestras of Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Seattle, San Diego, Detroit, New Jersey, and the National Symphony, as well as Montreal and Toronto. International appearances include the London Symphony, Liverpool and Manchester-BBC Philharmonics, Scottish BBC Orchestra, Czech and Rotterdam Philharmonics, Orchestra National de Lyon, Mannheim Orchestra, Real Orquesta Sinfonica de Sevilla, the Ulster Orchestra and the Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra. Asian engagements include appearances with the Korean Broadcast Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, China National Symphony, Beijing Symphony and the Shanghai Symphony. Ms. Falletta’s summer activities have taken her to numerous music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Hollywood Bowl, Wolf Trap, Mann Center, Meadow Brook, OK Mozart Festival and the Grand Teton Festival.
In 2018-19 she will guest conduct orchestras in the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Canada and across the US. Recent guest conducting highlights include performances with the National Symphony at Wolf Trap, the RTE Concert Orchestra (Dublin), the New Japan Philharmonic, the Mexico Symphony Philharmonic, the National Orchestras of Peru, Columbia and Iceland, as well as debuts in Belgrade, Gothenburg, Lima, Bogotá, Helsingborg, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a European tour with the Stuttgart Orchestra, return engagements with the Warsaw, Detroit, Phoenix and Krakow Symphony Orchestras, and a 13 city US tour with the Irish Chamber Orchestra with James Galway.
With a discography of 115 titles, JoAnn is a leading recording artist for Naxos. Her discs have won two GRAMMY® Awards and received ten nominations. In 2018, Naxos released four recordings with JoAnn, Wagner, Music from the Ring with the BPO, music of Franz Schreker with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Kodaly, Concerto for Orchestra with the BPO, and her fifth world premiere recording of music of Kenneth Fuchs with the London Symphony. Upcoming albums include Respighi’s Rome Trilogy with the BPO to be released by Naxos in February 2019.
Upon her appointment as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1999, Maestro Falletta became the first female conductor to lead a major American ensemble. She has since been credited with bringing the BPO to a new level of national and international prominence. During her tenure, the Orchestra’s budget has grown by 25 percent, and subscriptions have reached record levels. Under her direction, the BPO is continuing its trajectory as one of the most recorded orchestras in America. In 2018, the BPO made their first international tour in three decades, to perform at Warsaw’s prestigious Beethoven Easter Festival where Falletta made history as the first American women conductor to lead an orchestra at the Festival. Her BPO recordings for Naxos have garnered two Grammy awards and six nominations. She and the BPO have been honored with numerous ASCAP awards, including the top award for Adventurous Programming in 2011, 2013 and 2014, have made two acclaimed Carnegie Hall performances in 2004 and 2013, and two highly successful Florida tours with a third this season. Other accomplishments under her leadership include the establishment of the orchestra’s own Beau Fleuve label, the founding of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition in partnership with WNED, and the national and international broadcast of BPO concerts on NPR’s Performance Today and From the Top, SymphonyCast, and the European Broadcasting Union. Other recent broadcasts include a national PBS televised special, Bernstein’s Ode to Freedom featuring Ms. Falletta as host, and a PBS special of the Four Seasons with Mark O’Connor and Catherine Cho.
Under Falletta’s direction, the VSO has risen to celebrated artistic heights performing classics, pops and family concerts in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News and Williamsburg, made critically acclaimed debuts at the Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall, and was honored with an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. This season, the Orchestra will release a world premiere recording of Night Owl by Michael Daugherty. Last season, JoAnn released two discs for the Naxos label with the Virginia Arts Festival; Intimate Mahler and music of Stravinsky, Suite from The Soldier’s Tale, Les Noces and Octet, which marked JoAnn’s 100th recording.
In 2016, Falletta was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, joining an esteemed roster that dates to the Academy’s founding in 1780; including America’s founding fathers, and more than two hundred fifty Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners. She has served as a Member of the National Council on the Arts, and 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 has introduced over 500 works by American composers, including well over 100 world premieres.
Few artists are as important to the fabric of their communities as JoAnn Falletta. She was named Buffalo’s Most Influential Civic Leader, Buffalo and Erie County’s Artist of the Year, was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, and was presented with the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, the University of Buffalo’s highest award. She received the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies Award for outstanding leadership in the Marcel Tyberg Musical Legacy project. Her fan support from audiences around the world is evidenced by her listing by Classic FM in June 2018 as one of the world’s top 10 women conductors citing her “extraordinary musicality”, being voted #4 on the YourClassical list of the top 20 conductors of all time in 2017 and being named World’s Favourite Conductor in a 2015 online poll for Bachtrack. This year, Falletta was featured in Macy’s Remarkable Women ad campaign.
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/Niagara 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, was named Norfolk’s Downtowner of the Year, and received the Virginia Women in History Award.
Falletta is a strong advocate and mentor for young professional and student musicians. She has led seminars for women conductors for the League of American Orchestras, established a unique collaboration between the BPO and Mannes College to give up-and-coming conductors professional experience with a leading American orchestra, and has great success working with young musicians, guest conducting the orchestras of many of the top conservatories including Curtis, Juilliard, Mannes and The Manhattan School, and summer programs at Interlochen, Round Top and Brevard, among others. JoAnn was one of the first conductors to work with the innovative Orchestra Now created by Leon Botstein and Bard College. In 2016, she conducted the 100th anniversary concert of her alma mater, The Mannes College of Music, at Alice Tully Hall and was in residence at SUNY Potsdam. In 2018, she served on the jury of the Malko Competition in Denmark, one of the most important and highly respected competitions for young conductors in the world.
Her growing discography includes over 115 titles with the BPO, VSO, VAF, Ulster Orchestra, London Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Philadelphia Philharmonia, Women’s Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony, Berlin Radio Orchestra and Czech National Symphony, among others.
Ms. Falletta’s radio and television credits include numerous appearances on Fresh Air, All Things Considered 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. 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. A poem from Ms. Falletta’s first poetry book, Love Letters to Music, is the text setting for a work by composer Paul English that premiered in 2012.
From 2011-14, she served as Principal Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with whom she made her Proms debut and recorded 6 highly acclaimed Naxos discs. She was the first woman and the first American to fill this post, which is considered one of the most important cultural positions in Northern Ireland. She has held the positions of Artistic Advisor to the Honolulu Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of the Phoenix 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.
Falletta first fell in love with music when she was 7 and began studying classical guitar. She has appeared as guitarist, mandolinist and lutenist with the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, American Ballet Orchestra, Women’s Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony and the Juilliard Orchestra, and has received wide critical acclaim for her guitar chamber music recordings with the Virginia Arts Festival. The JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, sponsored by the Buffalo Philharmonic and WNED-FM in Buffalo, is one of the premier classical guitar performance competitions in the world.