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This is a contributing entry for Virginia Women in History Heritage Trail - Hampton Roads Region and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
A dynamic and compelling conductor and music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (which perfoms at Chrysler Hall), JoAnn Falletta is an advocate for contemporary music.

  • Photograph of conductor JoAnn Falletta, courtesy of GIS Artists.
  • The Library of Virginia honored JoAnn Falletta as one of its Virginia Women in History in 2013.
  • The Virginia Women in History Digital Trail is made possible by the Library of Virginia and American Evolution: Virginia to America, 1619–2019.
A native of New York, JoAnn Falletta (b. 1954) graduated from the Mannes College of Music, and earned a degree in orchestral conducting from The Julliard School. From 1986 until 1997, she was music director of the Women’s Philharmonic, in San Francisco, an orchestra founded to champion music composed by women. She is the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, of Belfast, Northern Ireland; and the artistic director of the newly formed Hawai’i Symphony.

Since 1991 Falletta has also served as music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, in Norfolk. Under her direction it has become a leading regional orchestra and in 2010 it received an American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) award for adventurous programming in recognition of performances of contemporary works.

Falletta has conducted the premieres of more than 100 works by American composers. She is recognized for her innovative programming, and she has compiled an impressive discography of almost seventy titles. Falletta has long mentored student musicians and, through the League of American Orchestras, has led seminars for women conductors.

The winner of the Stokowski Conducting Competition in 1985, Falletta has received several prestigious conducting awards and has been honored several times by ASCAP. In addition to membership on the National Council for the Arts, Falletta has a star on Norfolk’s Legends of Music Walk of Fame and in 2011 she was named Norfolk’s Downtowner of the Year.

Reprinted with permission of the Library of Virginia.