JoAnn Falletta’s 20th Anniversary

Celebrate Maestro JoAnn Falletta’s remarkable 20-year tenure as music director of the BPO. It is through her vision that the orchestra has reached new levels of national and international prominence, and continues to present best-in-class live symphonic music for all of the Western New York region and beyond.

Two very special ways to celebrate Maestro Falletta:

  • A special dinner service will be offered at Henry’s at Kleinhans Music Hall on opening night of the M&T Bank Classics Series, September 21, in advance of the Favorites & Friends: A Celebration of 20 Years performance at 8PM. Contact Katie Johnson ( to inquire about reservation availability. (Please note, there will be no dinner service in the Mary Seaton Room on this evening.)
  • A black-tie affair to celebrate JoAnn Falletta’s 20th anniversary will be held October 18 at Hotel Henry on the Richardson Olmsted Campus. To purchase tickets to this special fundraising event, please click here.

Join the 20th anniversary celebration!
October 18, 2019

Beginning at 6AM Classical 94.5 WNED will play a different BPO recording at the top of each hour from 6AM to 12 midnight.
Beginning at 10AM The Buffalo Museum of Science will play BPO recordings throughout Hamlin Hall, and will offer a ticket admission discount for all current BPO subscribers. (10AM-4PM)


Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex will play BPO recordings throughout the day. (10AM-3PM)

The Burchfield Penney Art Center will provide free admission for everyone all day, and will play BPO recordings throughout the day. (10AM-5PM)

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens will offer buy one, get one free admission for current BPO subscribers with coupon code BPO20 online and at the admission desk; free docent-led tours at 11AM, 1PM and 3PM; a self-guided BPO and JoAnn Falletta-inspired scavenger hunt throughout the gardens; and will play BPO recordings throughout the day. (10AM-4:30PM)

Throughout the day, the Buffalo History Museum will play BPO recordings, and will center the theme of its M&T Bank Third Friday Series around the BPO and JoAnn Falletta. (10AM-5PM)

The Buffalo Zoo will offer a 20% discount on regular admissions for BPO members, and (weather permitting) will have music playing on their admissions plaza. (10AM-4PM)

10:30AM Maestro Falletta conducts Danny Elfman’s Violin Concerto at Kleinhans Music Hall (complimentary coffee and doughnuts for all ticket holders beginning at 8AM).
12:30PM Kleinhans Music Hall will be open for FREE backstage tours (tour reservation details coming soon).

JoAnn Falletta’s 20th anniversary black-tie affair at Hotel Henry on the Richardson Olmsted campus. For ticket information, please click here.

Schedule of events and partner offerings subject to change. Please check back for the latest updates. 

History of JoAnn Falletta and the BPO

Leonard Bernstein and JoAnn Falletta, 1985 (Photo: Louis Brunelli)

Growing up in the borough of Queens in New York City, JoAnn first fell in love with music when she was just 7 years old and began studying classical guitar. She went on to study music at the Mannes College of Music and The Juilliard School, where she studied conducting under the great Leonard Bernstein. She served as music director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra from 1983 to 1992, and as associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra from 1985 to 1988. From 1986 to 1996, she served as music director of the Bay Area Women’s Philharmonic. She was music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra from 1989 to 2000. In 1991, Falletta was appointed the eleventh music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

In 1999, following a lengthy international search, JoAnn Falletta was awarded the role of music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the first female conductor to lead a major American ensemble. “When I got here, there was graffiti all over [the exterior], and the glass was broken,” she recounted of Kleinhans Music Hall in an article with the New York Times. It was a precarious time for the City of Buffalo. Decades of industrial decline had left the city, and the Buffalo Philharmonic, on shaky ground.

Since that time, note by note, measure by measure, JoAnn has given hope to the thousands of BPO patrons that have entered through Kleinhans’ doors over the past 20 years. She has built a remarkable following and brought the BPO to new levels of acclaim. She has been dubbed a “Maestro for the people,” noting the camaraderie she shares with the world-class musicians of the orchestra, its dedicated staff, and its incredible patrons and supporters.


JoAnn is appointed as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, becoming the first female conductor to lead a major American ensemble.


JoAnn helps to establish the BPO’s own recording label, Beau Fleuve.


Under the direction of Maestro Falletta, the BPO releases its first recording with NAXOS.

(Photo: Mark Dellas)
(Photo: Eliese Theuer)


JoAnn is the recipient of the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award for exceptionally gifted American conductors.


JoAnn is instrumental in hiring Daniel Hart as Executive Director of the BPO. The Orchestra’s budget has since grown by 25 percent, and subscriptions have reached record levels.

JoAnn leads the BPO in a return to Carnegie Hall.

JoAnn and the BPO establish the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition in partnership with WBFO/WNED, with Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio as artistic directors.


JoAnn is inducted into the Western New York Women’s Hall of Fame.


JoAnn receives the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies Award for outstanding leadership in the Marcel Tyberg Musical Legacy project.


JoAnn and the BPO win two GRAMMY Awards for John Corigliano’s “Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan.”

JoAnn leads national and international broadcasts of BPO concerts on NPR’s Performance Today and From the Top, SymphonyCast, and the European Broadcasting Union.


The BPO celebrates its 75th anniversary.

JoAnn is inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.


JoAnn and the BPO receive their first ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.

JoAnn receives the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, the University at Buffalo’s highest award.


JoAnn is named Buffalo’s Most Influential Civic Leader.

BPO at Carnegie Hall, May 2013 (Photo: Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times)


JoAnn and the BPO receive their second ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.

JoAnn leads her second BPO concert Carnegie Hall as part of the Spring for Music Festival.


JoAnn and the BPO receive their third ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.


JoAnn is named World’s Favourite Conductor in an online poll for Bachtrack.


JoAnn is elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, joining an esteemed roster that dates to the Academy’s founding in 1780, including America’s founding fathers and more than 250 Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.

Under JoAnn’s leadership, the BPO’s education programs surpass reaching 50,000 Western New York students for the first time.


JoAnn is voted #4 on the YourClassical list of the top 20 conductors of all time.


The BPO makes its first international tour in three decades, performing at Warsaw’s prestigious Beethoven Easter Festival, where JoAnn made history as the first female American conductor to lead an orchestra at the Festival.

The BPO performs in Warsaw, Poland, 2018
JoAnn Falletta, Macy's Remarkable Women Campaign 2018 (Photo: Macy's)

The BPO achieves the goal of its Crescendo Campaign, bringing the endowment past the $50 million mark and ensuring the longevity of the orchestra for generations to come.

JoAnn is featured in Macy’s Remarkable Women ad campaign, which showcased six women from different professional backgrounds, bound together by their talent, leadership and achievements.


As of the fall of 2019, the BPO has released 24 recordings with NAXOS.

JoAnn receives her third GRAMMY Award for a collaboration with composer Kenneth Fuchs and the London Symphony.

JoAnn is honored with a 2019 ATHENA Award® from the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, which recognizes contributions made by individuals to advance the status of women in the Buffalo Niagara region.

JoAnn celebrates the remarkable milestone of 20 years as Music Director for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kenneth Fuchs and JoAnn Falletta pose with their award at the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards (Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)