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Bush taps Falletta for Arts Council Appointment follows extensive interview

JoAnn Falletta has been appointed by President Bush to the National Council on the Arts.

The council advises the National Endowment for the Arts on programs and policies. Council members help oversee grant applications, funding program guidelines and national initiatives. Since its establishment in 1964, the council has welcomed a series of distinguished musicians, including Leonard Bernstein and Isaac Stern.

The appointment followed months of conversations with Washington officials about her attitudes toward the arts and government involvement in the arts, said Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 10 years.

"One conversation took a couple of hours," she said. "They wanted to know about my philosophy on the arts, the role of government in the arts. Not knowing what they were looking for, I told them what I felt truthfully. It was very quiet, very secretive. I think really no one knew about it, except the people who were called."

Besides being music director of the BPO, Falletta is music director of the Virginia Symphony. She has also been music director of the Long Beach, Calif., Symphony.

Dan Hart, executive director of the BPO, said federal officials flew to Buffalo to meet with him to discuss Falletta.

"They did a fairly extensive background check," he said.

He expressed pride in Falletta's appointment.

"She will be a great addition to the council," he said. "She has broad experience with small organizations, big organizations. She has traveled the world as a concert artist. Her status as an artist working in the arts should be invaluable."

As a member of the council, Falletta said she will be required to travel to Washington three times a year to meet with the rest of the panel. She fills the seat vacated recently by jazz drummer Foreststorn "Chico" Hamilton, who she said resigned because of illness.

Falletta's term on the National Council on the Arts lasts until September 2012.

Joining Falletta on the council will be portrait and landscape artist Chas Fagan of North Carolina; country singer Lee Greenwood of Tennessee; jazz trumpet player and bandleader Irvin Mayfield of Louisiana; and watercolor artist Barbara Ernst Prey of New York.

e-mail mkunz@buffnews.com

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