Falletta on Buffalo’s Emotional “Concert For Healing,” Excited About Future of Classical Music Ahead of Tanglewood Debut

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Falletta, who has conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic since 1998, will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra through a program of Roberto Sierra’s “Fandangos,” Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome” and “Pines of Rome,” and Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto.” .

“I thought we should have on the program a piece by a living composer of our time, of the 21st century, and that’s Roberto Sierra,” she told WAMC. “He’s from Puerto Rico, he’s now working in New York. This piece ‘Fandango’, he borrows an old form of baroque music, a form of dance, and he kind of blends into the 21st century. But the piece is totally fun. It’s kind of like Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, if people have ever heard that and like that track, that’s it. And I still like conducting it, and I think it’s gonna be fun to hear.

Just a week and a half ago, Falletta conducted one of the most moving concerts of her long career at her home in Buffalo.

In May, a mass shooting at a city supermarket that targeted Buffalo’s black community left 10 dead, three injured and the community devastated.

“It was a very emotional afternoon,” Falletta told WAMC. “When we had this terrible tragedy in Buffalo, we immediately approached the religious leaders in the community, and the community is not very far from our hall. Our hall is maybe only a quarter of a mile of where the tragedy took place. We wanted to play a concert immediately in memory and they said, give us some time to heal because it’s so fresh now.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Concert for Healing finally took place on July 24e.

“It was a free concert open to everyone,” Falletta continued. “Every piece on their program was composed by an African American composer. We had two fabulous community singers, a wonderful soprano and, in fact, her husband, who was a reverend and a fantastic baritone. For the musicians and for me, it was probably the most important concert we had all year, because it was something that touched a community that we don’t see as much as we would like, and they were there with us, and they were praying with us, they were screaming and singing right at the end, singing with us, it was amazing and now we want to make it happen, we decided to do an annual event where we do one every year just to celebrate the Diversity of Buffalo Buffalo is a very diverse community and we are proud to be a city that welcomes immigrants, we welcome new people all the time, and it will now become a tradition.

When Falletta took over the Buffalo Philharmonic, she was the first woman to lead an American ensemble of her size and stature. Years later, Falletta trained subsequent generations of female conductors. She says the climate has finally improved for women trying to navigate the long male-dominated world of classical music.

“When I started my career, I expected things to change very quickly for women,” said the conductor. “I mean, it seemed necessary, but it took time. But I think over the last five years or so, the door has finally opened completely. We are now seeing young women starting their professional careers as as conductors, composers, in all facets of our classical music world. And finally. And that’s okay, that’s okay. I love being able to help people, especially women, who have questions and want to talk about experiences they might have or issues they might have. I’m very happy and honored to do so if I can help, but I think that’s finally changing.

WAMC asked Falletta what interests her the most right now about the future of classical music.

“We are now opening up our canon of classical music into the 21st century, I think, and maybe, having had the time and the pandemic to study and reassess where we are, I think a lot of us are thrilled now not just to continue playing wonderful pieces that we’ve always cherished, but to find new voices, to find voices of diversity that we haven’t played,” Falletta said. “I’ve learned so many new works that I’m excited about during the pandemic, so I think the concert hall environment is going to be charged with the energy of these new voices with Beethoven and Bach and the people we have. always played. It feels like we’ve opened the door to a brave new world, and that’s exciting for us.

JoAnn Falletta conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in its Tanglewood debut Saturday at 8 p.m. You can listen to the show live on WAMC.

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