JoAnn Falletta (born February 27, 1954, in Queens, New York City) is an American classical musician and orchestral conductor.
Falletta was educated at the Mannes College of Music and The Juilliard School in New York City. She began her musical career as a virtuoso guitar and mandolin player, and as a teenager often was called to perform with the Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic when a work called for a mandolin or guitar obligato. She entered Mannes as a guitar student, but began conducting the student orchestra at age 18, and desired a career in this field right away. While the Mannes administration raised doubts about the ability of a woman to gain a music directorship, it agreed and permitted her transfer her emphasis. After graduation, she did further study at Queens College (M.A. in orchestral conducting) and the Juilliard School of Music (M.M., D.M.A. in orchestral conducting). She studied conducting with Jorge Mester and others.
In 1991, Falletta became music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. She has also served as music director of the Long Beach Symphony and of the Women's Philharmonic Orchestra (San Francisco). In May 1998, Falletta was named music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and she formally took up the post with the 1999-2000 season. During her tenure in Buffalo, the orchestra has made recordings for Naxos and returned to give concerts at Carnegie Hall. Currently the longest-serving music director in the history of the orchestra, her current contract in Buffalo is through the 2011-2012 season.
Falletta has won a number of prestigious conducting awards, including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award in 2002, the Stokowski Competition, the Toscanini Award, Ditson Award and Bruno Walter Award for conducting. She has also has received ten awards from ASCAP for creative programming, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s John S. Edwards Award. Falletta has throughout her career been a champion of the works of American composers, performing hundreds of works by living Americans including dozens of premieres.
Her discography now extends to more than forty releases, including works of both Classical composers such as Brahms, Barber, Schubert, and women composers such as Clara Schumann and Lili Boulanger, as well as many contemporary composers.
In 1986, Falletta married Robert Alemany, who was then a clarinetist and is now a systems engineer.
In the 1987 documentary A Woman Is a Risky Bet: Six Orchestra Conductors directed by Christina Olofson JoAnn Falletta conducts the Queens Philharmonic in Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
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