Acclaimed conductor JoAnn Falletta has been named Performance Today's 2019 Classical Woman of the Year. The award, which was given for the first time, honors the women who have made a lasting impact on classical music or those who love music.
"JoAnn Falletta is a mighty figure on the global music scene. She brings a bright freshness to classical standards, and her vision includes and elevates so many worthy composers and artists who've been too long overlooked," said Fred Child, host of Performance Today. "She is a tireless champion of the art form itself, not just on the podium, but in ways that are not always visible or public; our listeners' nominating stories about her included myriad examples of Falletta's unique combination of artistic authority and compassion, compelling musicianship and humanity. It is an honor for us to name her as Performance Today's 2019 Classical Woman of the Year."
An esteemed conductor and leader in classical music, Falletta's recordings have won three Grammy Awards and 13 nominations. She received an individual Grammy this year, in the category of Best Classical Compendium for Spiritualist, her fifth world premiere recording of music of Kenneth Fuchs with the London Symphony. Her Naxos recording of John Corigliano's Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan with the Buffalo Philharmonic received two Grammys in 2008. She became the first woman to lead a major American ensemble upon her appointment as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and has introduced over 500 works by American composers, including more than 100 world premieres.
Says Falletta, "I am overwhelmed by this honor, and by the beautiful words of the listening audience. My entire life has been inspired and filled with joy by the people with whom I have worked, and by those who love and support music. Thank you Fred Child, and thanks to American Public Media for the beauty they bring us every single day."
Falletta will be honored on the Friday, March 29 episode of Performance Today, and will speak with Child during the show about the honor and her accomplishments in classical music.
The inaugural award for this classical music industry honor was selected by the staff of Performance Today based on listener feedback. Throughout the month of March, listeners nominated classical performers, composers, conductors, music teachers or supporters, with the primary qualification being a significant contribution to the art form.
Falletta was selected out of more than 120 nominees. Performance Today, which is produced by American Public Media and heard on radio stations across the nation, featured a select number of nominating essays on the show's website. Finalists included Erin Freeman of Richmond, Virginia; Emily Remington of Charleston, South Carolina; violinist Hilary Hahn; conductor Jeannette Sorrell; composer Jennifer Higdon; and conductor Marin Alsop.
In nominating Falletta, listeners called her "consistently amazing, both as a conductor and a musician," "one of the greatest musicians of our time" and "the trailblazing American conductor who has quietly, yet systematically gone about dispelling the myth of the 'male maestro'."