JoAnn Falletta is embarking on her 20th season as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s been a boon to Buffalo.
Some comparisons of her tenure: Jimmy Griffin was mayor of Buffalo for 16 years. Tim Russert, before his untimely death, hosted “Meet the Press” for 17 years. Marv Levy coached the Buffalo Bills for 11 seasons.
Falletta is a keeper, and a civic treasure. She has elevated the profile of the BPO, helped solidify its financial future, and is one of the most likable public figures in town.
She recently announced the orchestra’s lineup of events for the 2019-2020 season at Kleinhans Music Hall, another eclectic mix of adventurous classical works as well as the more familiar, plus a variety of pop offerings.
Falletta, who originally studied guitar at Mannes College in New York, earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School. She has conducted orchestras around the world and last year led the BPO on a tour of Poland.
One of Falletta’s special interests is recorded music. Under her direction the BPO has recorded more than 70 albums, on the Beau Fleuve and Naxos labels. She has spoken about the fact that the precision and focus required to make a recording makes the orchestra sound better in live performances. Anyone fortunate enough to hear them play in Kleinhans Music Hall can testify to their routine excellence.
All those recordings make Falletta a frequent presence on classical radio stations across the country. They have also earned her 11 Grammy Award nominations – she has won two. Falletta is up for a Grammy this year for an album she did with the London Symphony Orchestra. It’s a compilation of works by the composer Kenneth Fuchs, whom Falletta met while at Juilliard.
Falletta likes to champion some lesser-known composers, introducing them to wider audiences.
“I’m interested in taking a piece that doesn’t play itself and really making it shine,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2018.
Shine on, Ms. Falletta.