As The Buffalo News' classical music critic this is a game I play a lot, hunting down JoAnn Falletta, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's much-traveled music director. There is always something I need to ask her and she is very nice about putting up with me.
This weekend, you can tell she is probably not in Buffalo because the concerts Saturday and Sunday, featuring guest violinist Jennifer Koh, are being conducted by Associate Conductor Matthew Kraemer. Elementary, my dear Watson!
So, where is JoAnn? Emails and cell phones make it easy to find out, but it is still entertaining, to find out where she is. I emailed her lastnight, and today the word got back to me. JoAnn Falletta is in .... timpani roll please ....
Fort Wayne, Indiana!
She is conducting the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Fort Wayne Phil, as it is known for short, is led by Music Director Andrew Constantine. This is a kind of cultural exchange we have going here, because Constantine was in Buffalo just this past February, leading the Buffalo Philharmonic and pianist Terrence Wilson in a concert in honor of Mozart's birthday. I remember I liked him. He had an unhurried, low-key style.
Let us continue to probe the Fort Wayne Phil. The orchestra's Web site is a kick. All week they have Constantine interviewing Falletta and each day he asks her a different question. Today's question is about how JoAnn feels about traveling. She says she enjoys exploring new cities and that she rides her bike and does yoga. "I think yoga sometimes is the only thing that keeps me going," she says.
Darn, and all this time I thought I was keeping her going! Me and my endless phone calls and questions.
Also on the Fort Wayne Phil's site is an ongoing thing called "Classical Cackles" -- "a weekly online comic, game or video that will hopefully provide some levity during the middle of the week." I am laughing already! There is also a very entertaining long and rambling history of the orchestra.
The Fort Wayne Phil performs in the historic Embassy Theatre. A lot of orchestras in mid-sized cities perform in 1920s movie palaces. It makes me realize what an exception Buffalo is in that we have world-renowned Kleinhans Music Hall. Our situation really stands out.
That having been said, the Embassy looks like a wonderful place. That is its lobby pictured above. It has a beautiful marquee.
The Embassy was a vaudeville house in addition to a movie theater. Scanning its history I see that all my favorite greats performed there -- Cab Calloway, Donald O'Connor, Chico Marx. Here is Chico Marx playing "All I Do Is Dream of You," a song Michael Buble sings now. Perhaps Chico Marx played that at the Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne, Ind.!
JoAnn is not the only ambassador from Buffalo to grace the stage at the Embassy. The theater's Wikipedia page has a picture of the Goo Goo Dolls performing there.
This weekend in Fort Wayne, JoAnn is conducting Max Bruch's First Violin Concerto, with soloist Clara-Jumi Kang. Also on the program are John Adams' "The Chairman Dances," and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherezade." The concert is called "Tales From Afar."
We have explored some tales from afar right here, today!
I wonder where JoAnn will be next time I go looking for her?
-- Mary Kunz Goldman
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