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Another Voice: Brava! Celebrating JoAnn Falletta's two decades with BPO

By Peter J. Eliopoulos and Cindy A. Letro

The quality of life in any city can be measured in a number of ways. Buffalo is enjoying a wonderful urban development renaissance with infrastructure improvements around the Medical Campus, downtown and on the waterfront.

Another major asset to Buffalo’s quality of life is our wealth and depth of cultural institutions. There are many things to celebrate within the cultural community, including a major milestone this year for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of JoAnn Falletta becoming music director of our BPO and becoming the first female to lead a major American ensemble. She has been, to borrow from The New York Times, “one of the finest conductors of her generation.”

Her accomplishments have been numerous, including two Grammy Awards and six nominations. Beginning this summer, 20 events leading to a final “countdown” of 20 hours on Oct. 18 will mark the culmination of all the orchestra, musicians and JoAnn have brought to Western New York for the past 20 years.

Falletta arrived in Buffalo at just the right time to help stabilize and build on the legacy of arguably one of the nation’s finest regional orchestras. The BPO was emerging from a difficult period, marked by financial instability and contractual disputes with the musicians of that period. The orchestra has faced similar issues challenging other metropolitan orchestras: changing audience as the pace of modern communication dilutes interests and shortens attention spans.

In Buffalo, the BPO has had a balanced budget for 14 years under Executive Director Dan Hart, who with Falletta and the musicians and our board have been aligned, imaginative and focused on keeping the orchestra on the surest footing for the future.

Having a master artist at the helm of the BPO has been one of the reasons the BPO has found its way. Another is the very strong relationship between our musicians and the community in which they live and work as well as Falletta’s work here in Buffalo that has had a major local impact; including on the 50,000 students served each year by the BPO’s educational programs.

This season, a world-class violinist like Nikki Chooi chooses to leave New York City to become BPO concertmaster, which speaks volumes about the quality of the artistry here.

The organization has a day filled with many community events on Oct. 18 to mark Falletta’s 20th anniversary. I hope you consider joining this civic celebration. You can find a full list of the day’s events at www.bpo.org/joann20.

Peter J. Eliopoulos is the chief marketing officer of M&T Bank/Wilmington Trust and a member of the BPO Board of Trustees. Cindy A. Letro is a member of the BPO Board of Trustees and a past board chair.

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