Poster JoAnn Falletta
JoAnn Falletta has recorded many marginalized American composers.
New Classical Tracks®

Conductor JoAnn Falletta has built a reputation championing American composers

New Classical Tracks - JoAnn Falletta (Extended)

JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — Danny Elfman: Violin Concerto 'Eleven Eleven' & Adolphus Hailstork: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Naxos)

New Classical Tracks - JoAnn Falletta
New Classical Tracks - May 3, 2023

“I've been doing a lot of American concertos and commissioning them for our players. I'd love to start a concert series of American concertos,” conductor JoAnn Falletta says. “What better way to start than with these two unbelievable pieces?”

As the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra music director and music director laureate of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Falletta has built a reputation as a champion of American composers. Her latest recording features Danny Elfman’s first violin concerto, Eleven Eleven, with violinist Sandy Cameron, and the Piano Concerto No. 1, by Adolphus Hailstork, with pianist Stewart Goodyear.

“I chose these works because they were from a different world than we normally associate with concertos. Adolphus Hailstork is African American and has intense training in classical Western music,” Falletta says. “Violinist Sandy Cameron comes from Danny Elfman, who had never written a classical piece until he wrote this amazing violin concerto. They are two very out-there concertos. I love them. They're destined to be classics of the 21st century.”

The Virginia Symphony commissioned Adolphus Hailstork’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

That's right. It was commissioned right after I became music director. Part of the reason for the commission was that Hailstork lived in my apartment building. We both came to Virginia at the same time. I came to work with the orchestra, and he came to teach at Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University.

“He wrote so many pieces and was very active as a composer. We played them all. He was also our composer in residence, and we got to do premieres of his pieces all the time. But we asked him to write a piano concerto, and he wrote this amazing piece. We took it with us when we made our debut performance at Carnegie Hall.

“I thought it was time to record it with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. We have to record it because no one knows about this piece. It’s one of the greatest piano concertos ever written, after Gershwin.”

Tell me about Eleven Eleven, by Danny Elfman.

“He was working with Sandy on some of the Tim Burton films, and he had written some parts for solo violin. Sandy lived in Los Angeles and was playing them. Her virtuosity struck him. He said, ‘I want to write a violin concerto, and I want to write it for you.’ He had never written a classical piece. At 60, he said, ‘It's about time. If I'm going to do this, I must do it now.’

“They came up with this incredible idea of slightly amplifying the violin. Doing that allowed Danny to use the tremendous forces he wanted because the violin would be heard. People listening to the recording won't even be aware of that. 

“Danny told me about putting in a Latin tango in the second movement and then wanted to take it out because he said, ‘Oh, no. That's too pop.’ Sandy talked him out of it, saying, ‘No, it's great. Our orchestra agreed it was one of their favorite spots.’

“It's similar to a film noir concerto if that makes sense. Danny's well known for his Batman music with a city noir soundscape where it's dark and a little threatening. It’s just so enticing this dark journey that he takes us on. I teased him when he was there by saying this is what Batman would sound like if you played the violin.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — Danny Elfman: Violin Concerto 'Eleven Eleven' & Adolphus Hailstork: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Amazon Music)

JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — Danny Elfman: Violin Concerto 'Eleven Eleven' & Adolphus Hailstork: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Presto music)

JoAnn Falletta (official site)

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