After 27 years as artistic leader of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta yesterday announced that she will conclude her tenure as Music Director in June of 2020, as the organization looks forward to its second century as one of America’s most innovative musical ensembles.
Ms. Falletta is credited with putting the VSO on the nation’s musical map, in step as her own career skyrocketed through the years, working with community supporters to take the orchestra to Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, receiving prizes, making numerous recordings, and commissioning new works.
In making the announcement, Ms. Falletta said, “As I reflect on all that the musicians and I have been able to accomplish together, I’ve never been prouder or more excited for the future of this unique orchestra. Now as the VSO approaches its 100th anniversary, a remarkable achievement for any performing group, I’m enormously grateful for the innumerable friendships I have made here, and the love and support the community has shown toward me and our musicians.”
VSO President and CEO Karen Philion said, “JoAnn has set us up beautifully to begin our second century. Thanks to her visionary leadership we are in a terrific place as an organization and poised to capitalize on all she and the musicians have accomplished as we look forward to the next exciting chapter. JoAnn’s legacy will serve as a wonderful foundation on which we will continue to build.”
During Ms. Falletta’s tenure, the Virginia Symphony was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall and at the Kennedy Center, and has released a total of 18 recordings. In addition, under her leadership, the VSO has premiered many new works, including just two weeks ago the world premiere of “Night Owl,” a piece by preeminent American composer Michael Daugherty specially commissioned for the VSO by local philanthropists Susan and David Goode.
Falletta has been the recipient of numerous local, regional and statewide honors during her time in Virginia, including being named “Norfolk Downtowner of the Year” in 2011, and receiving a star on the Norfolk Legends of Music Walk of Fame, the “Virginia Women in History Award” in 2013 and the “50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Award” from the Virginia Commission for the Arts in 2018.
In 2016, Falletta was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, joining an esteemed roster that dates back to the Academy’s founding in 1780, including America’s founding fathers and more than two hundred fifty Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners. She has served as a Member of the National Council on the Arts and is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award for exceptionally gifted American conductors, the coveted Stokowski Competition and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter Awards for conducting, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s prestigious John S. Edwards Award. She has introduced over 500 works by American composers, including well over 100 world premieres. Hailing her as a “leading force for the music of our time,” she has been honored with twelve ASCAP awards, including one with the Virginia Symphony for adventurous programming.
Patrick McDermott, who chairs the VSO Board of Directors, said the Board looks forward to celebrating JoAnn’s many accomplishments with her during the next two years. “JoAnn is leaving the orchestra in terrific shape, and we thank her for the time she is giving us to fully embrace this opportunity to find a worthy successor,” McDermott said.
A search committee will be appointed to select a new Music Director. Longtime VSO supporters Michael and Andria McClellan will serve as the chairs of the committee. Michael McClellan, Vice President of Strategic Planning for Norfolk Southern Corporation, has served on the VSO Board since 2006. Andria McClellan serves on the Norfolk City Council and chaired the 20th anniversary gala celebration for JoAnn Falletta in 2011.