BPO music director JoAnn Falletta extends her contract before it’s even up, Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News

Once again, to the delight of her many fans, JoAnn Falletta has jumped the gun.

At Saturday’s Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concert, the audience learned that Falletta’s contract as the BPO’s music director has been extended for five more years.

And just like the last time she renewed her contract, in February 2011, she renewed it a year in advance.

Falletta said in a phone conversation that renewing in advance gives her freedom.

“It’s so good because now I can really plan for the future,” she said.

“We’re starting, very soon, the public phase of a large endowment campaign. And recordings, touring, all of that has to be planned two or three years in advance. If we’re going to grow and be ambassadors for Buffalo everywhere, we need to plan for that.”

Dan Hart, the BPO’s executive director, said that such enthusiasm is part of what makes Falletta a good fit for this town.

“Buffalo is a town of great people, very warm people. And JoAnn’s personality is just like that,” he said. “Anyone in this town is her friend, and she cares about everyone she meets.

“The other thing that makes JoAnn good for the BPO is that she has long-term vision, generates ideas. The world can’t keep up with the kind of ideas she generates about how to keep the BPO constantly at a high level.

“Her artistic integrity and motivation is beyond compare, and I think that’s what’s helping drive the organization forward, as well.”

Falletta confided that one plan – albeit still very hazy – might involve a tour of Poland.

She, Hart and a host of 30 Buffalonians recently returned from a trip there.

She conducted the orchestra in Krakow, where she has conducted before and has maintained friendships. As a result of that trip, the distinguished Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki is planning to come to Buffalo and conduct the BPO. Other things could happen down the road.

“We went to Poland partly to explore the possibility of a BPO tour of Poland,” Falletta said. “We got a very good initial response to that. We’re planning for a Florida tour again. Lots of things – our recordings, our commissions – all that is continuum. We’re always thinking four, five years ahead.”

Falletta has been with the orchestra 15 years, beginning in 1999. She is now by far the BPO’s longest-tenured music director.

Coming in a distant second place is Josef Krips, who led the BPO for nine years, from 1954 to 1963.

She is also the music director for the Virginia Symphony, and conducts frequently around the world. But 15 years leading the BPO have left her with a particular feel for Buffalo.

“I love it,” she said.

“I’ve enjoyed every place I conducted. But there’s a rightness about this place. Yes, we can make good things happen here. And what can be more deeply satisfying than that?

“We can play for a community we know and love. That is truly a collaborative relationship, and it’s rare.”