Grammy-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta serves as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center, and Artistic Adviser of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. Hailed for 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,” she is a leading force for the music of our time.
Ms. Falletta has guest conducted over one hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. In 2019-20 she guest conducts orchestras in Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, and across the United States.
Upon her appointment as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, Falletta became the first woman to lead a major America ensemble. Celebrating her twentieth anniversary with the Buffalo Philharmonic this season, she has been credited with bringing the Philharmonic to an unprecedented level of national and international prominence. The orchestra has become one of the leading recording orchestras for Naxos and returned twice to Carnegie Hall, first in 2004 after a twenty-year absence, and again in 2013 as part of the Spring for Music Festival. 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. She and the BPO have been honored with numerous ASCAP awards, including the top award for Adventurous Programming. Other accomplishments include the establishment of the orchestra’s Beau Fleuve label, the founding of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition in partnership with WNED, four successful tours to Florida, and the national and international broadcast of concerts on NPR’s Performance Today, SymphonyCast, and the European Broadcasting Union.
This season, JoAnn Falletta concludes a long and successful tenure as Music Director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Since her appointment in 1991, the VSO has risen to celebrated artistic heights, performing world premieres by such composers as Kenneth Fuchs, Behzad Ranjbaran, Michael Daugherty and Lowell Liebermann, forgotten gems of the classical repertoire, as well as classics, pops and family concerts in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, and Williamsburg. Under her direction, the Orchestra made critically acclaimed debuts at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, was honored with an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, and released eighteen recordings including discs on the internationally acclaimed Naxos label, Albany Records, NPR, and the orchestra’s own Hampton Roads label. Virginians have honored her with a star on Norfolk’s Legends of Music Walk of Fame, the Virginia Women in History Award, Norfolk’s Downtowner of the Year, and the 50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Award from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. JoAnn assumes the title of Music Director Laureate beginning with the 2020-21 season.
With a discography of over 115 titles, JoAnn is a leading recording artist for Naxos. In 2019, JoAnn won her first individual Grammy Award as conductor of the London Symphony in the category of Best Classical Compendium for Spiritualist, her fifth world premiere recording of music of Kenneth Fuchs. Her Naxos recording of John Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan received two Grammys in 2008. This season, she and the BPO release three new recordings for Naxos, including the world premiere recording of Danielpour’s Passion of Yeshua, Salome by Florent Schmitt, and Poem of Ecstasy by Scriabin, as well as two recordings on the BPO’s Beau Fleuve label, BPO LIVE: Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet and Brahms’ Piano Concerto #2 with pianist Fabio Bidini, and Forgotten Treasures featuring five rarely played orchestral works. Falletta’s other recent releases on Naxos include Respighi’s Roman Trilogy, Wagner’s Music from the Ring, and Kodaly’s Concerto for Orchestra, each with the BPO; and Franz Schreker’s The Birthday of the Infanta with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. In the past year, the BPO also released Built for Buffalo 2, featuring three world premieres, and Treasures of Poland, and the VSO released a world premiere recording of Michael Daugherty’s Night Owl.
Falletta is a member of the esteemed American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has served by presidential appointment as a Member of the National Council on the Arts during the Bush and Obama administrations, and is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards. She has introduced over 500 works by American composers, including well over 100 world premieres. In March 2019, JoAnn was named Performance Today’s 2019 Classical Woman of The Year. The award, which was given for the first time, honors the women who have made a lasting impact on classical music. In June 2018, Classic FM listed JoAnn among the world’s top 10 women conductors citing her “extraordinary musicality.”
Ms. Falletta has held the positions of Principal Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, 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 and The Women’s Philharmonic.
She received her undergraduate degree from the Mannes School of Music, and her master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School. When not on the podium, JoAnn enjoys writing, cycling, yoga, and is an avid reader.