PODCAST | 25 Years of Harmony in Buffalo, An Interview with JoAnn Falletta, PLUS Don’t Miss ‘Beyond the Planets’ with flutist, Marina Piccinini on April 5 + 6

It is clear when talking to the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO), Maestro JoAnn Falletta, that her passion for music is as evident as her talent for storytelling.  Celebrating her 25th year with the organization, Falletta is a renowned conductor who has held prestigious positions with orchestras worldwide.  She’s a champion for women in music, both on and off the podium, and has garnered acclaim for her recordings and innovative programming. Her impressive biography can be read here

JoAnn Falletta conducts the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in their Lukas Foss Centennial Celebration at Carnegie Hall, 10/3/22.

She made a connection with conducting and storytelling at an early age, while studying under Leonard Bernstein (the subject of the recent biopic Maestro) at the Julliard School.  “ I remember studying [the opera] Carmen with him… trying to be so careful. And he said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘You know, where are you right now? You’re in the bullring in Seville, and it’s like 110°, and the sun is beating down on you, and the crowd is screaming. You can even smell the blood of the bull. That’s what we want to hear in this music, that kind of emotion. That stayed with me, that it wasn’t about clarity. It wasn’t about being right. It was about the emotion, the love, the passion… that was what he was all about. He loved this music and you could see it. You could see it in everything he did.”

WNY Soundstage
25 Years of Harmony in Buffalo: Interview with JoAnn Falletta on Music, Leadership, and Legacy



Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 00:30:50 | Recorded on April 1, 2024

Like Bernstein, Falletta also loves music, which is evident in the rich and varied programming that is presented weekly at the BPO. It is also clear that she has a deep feeling for the musicians of the BPO, whom she referred to as “frighteningly good.”  Over her tenure, she has developed a collaboration with them, which is incredibly special.  “What has really informed my conducting, now through these years, is to trust the musicians, and to believe in them, and give them space…We trust each other, and it’s not as if I’m controlling them. It’s as if I have established a landscape where they can bloom and be excellent, and that allows for astonishing performances – If they don’t feel controlled, if they feel supported rather than controlled.” adding,

So, letting go of the concept of control, which we’ve learned so strongly in music school, and turning it into a more eastern concept, maybe of creating the possibility of and letting them do it. And that’s why I think the BPO particularly has a very vibrant individual personality that no other orchestra has…their kind of energy level, their risk taking, their sense of adventure –  like they go for it. You know, they go beyond that forte. They are extremely expressive.

In celebration and anticipation of the upcoming eclipse, the BPO will be presenting Beyond The Planets, which will be conducted by Maestro Falletta, and will feature flutist Marina Piccinini and The Women’s Choir of Buffalo.  This program is a perfect example of what the BPO does so well, pairing brand new works with well loved repertoire, while celebrating Buffalo.  “We’re here for the city and …we’re making music for Buffalo, Erie County, and everyone who can reach us, you know, can come and hear us…We’re connected to them,” said Falletta. The program begins with Nina Shekhar’s “Lumina,” a new work that explores the concept of light and dark. Next on the program is another new work, written for flutist Marina Piccinini. “The Universe in Ecstatic Motion: Concerto for Flute and Orchestra” draws inspiration from the poetry of Rumi, a famous Persian poet known for his mystical ideas, and Buddhist philosophies that explore the nature of reality. The evening closes with Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite “The Planets, Op. 32.” Composed between 1914 and 1917, it depicts the solar system through the lens of astrology, with each movement portraying a planet’s character.

I think that given the excitement in Buffalo of the eclipse, it’s the perfect thing to come to on Saturday night or Friday morning to explore what is a momentous occasion for us.

With the eclipse being featured so heavily in the news, people have considered the power and meaning of this celestial experience, potentially creating a transcendent experience.  However, a similar experience could be had with the BPO, and Falletta knows the power of music to transport those that listen to another realm.  “It’s a physical experience…You know, people come into the concert to sit down at 7:30. Maybe a bit distracted, maybe a bit, you know, tired out from the day, or even struggling with some problems that they have. They sit there feeling one way, and somehow without their knowing it, and without any of us knowing exactly how it happens, they change. They become changed and when they leave… it’s as if all of that has been washed away. I mean that they’ve gone to a different place. We can’t really put it into words, but I think that’s why people come to concerts. Because you do go to sort of like ‘an island of sanity.’ [The music is] something that moves you in a way you never have to explain. You don’t even have to talk about it. And it’s a gift. It’s a gift to everyone. And I just wish that more people would come in and know that this is all for them, just for them, to sort of bring them to a kind of tranquil special place.”

Those who attend the concerts at the BPO know how special the experience is, and feel it necessary to support the organization.  “We have our family around us. They care about us. They may not be able to give big gifts or they may not be able to give gifts at all, but they come to the concerts. They support us. We have that family. And that’s true. And that’s how we survived. And that’s how we continue to go on and stay healthy and in challenging times.”  

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) presents Beyond the Planets on Friday, April 5, at 10:30 AM and Saturday, April 6, at 7:30 PM.  For the full schedule of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit their website here

Beyond the Planets

Friday, April 5, at 10:30 AM and Saturday, April 6, at 7:30 PM

The highly anticipated total solar eclipse on Buffalo’s horizon illuminates the program selection of two contemporary composers to complement Holst’s dazzling interpretation of the cosmos, The Planets. Nina Shekhar’s haunting Lumina explores the concept of lightness and dark, while The Universe in Ecstatic Motion by Christopher Theofanidis is a showcase for pre-eminent flutist, Marina Piccinini.

Cosmic Designs and The Planets courtesy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

This is a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) conducted by JoAnn Falletta. The program features three pieces:

Lumina by Nina Shekhar (a new work)

The Universe in Ecstatic Motion: Concerto for Flute and Orchestra by Christopher Theofanidis (featuring Marina Piccinini on flute)

The Planets by Gustav Holst (a famous suite depicting the solar system)

About the Soloists:

Marina Piccinini: A renowned flutist known for her artistry and diverse repertoire.
Women’s Choir of Buffalo: An ensemble of young women singers from Buffalo Girlchoir.

About the Composers:

Nina Shekhar: A composer who explores themes of identity, vulnerability, and love in her music.
Christopher Theofanidis: A composer whose works have been performed by leading orchestras around the world.

Additional Information: The concert includes a short intermission. Brief biographies are provided for the conductor, soloists, and composers here.

The post PODCAST | 25 Years of Harmony in Buffalo, An Interview with JoAnn Falletta, PLUS Don’t Miss ‘Beyond the Planets’ with flutist, Marina Piccinini on April 5 + 6 appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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