Poster JoAnn Falletta
JoAnn Falletta
Courtesy of the artist
Performance Today Features

Classical Woman of the Year

As we celebrate Women's History Month, Performance Today is honoring the women who have made a lasting impact on classical music or those who love music. We invited listeners to nominate a living woman who has inspired you. Nominees could be performers, composers, conductors, music teachers, or supporters. The winner's primary qualification is that she made a significant contribution to the art form or your appreciation of it. And the winner is...

JoAnn Falletta

JoAnn Falleta's scintillating and sensual rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" while conducting the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Interlochen Center for the Arts made me an avid fan of JoAnn's conducting abilities. She has my vote. (Micki Weigel)

She is consistently amazing, both as a conductor and a musician. She has brought the Buffalo Philharmonic into the spotlight as a world class orchestra, worthy of respect. She is daring and inventive, partnering with all sorts of musicians to bring fresh ideas and approaches to the listening experience. I am so glad to be a New Yorker and to know she is on the podium of one of our fine orchestras. I expect she does a huge amount of work on behalf of women composers and musicians everywhere. (Lynn Leopold)

Beginning her last year as Music Director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, she has conducted most of the world's greatest orchestras, received numerous awards, commissioned many new works and is one of the greatest musicians of our time. (Ann Moore)

Falletta has an outstanding record of performing--and recording--a wide range of music including that of living composers who may not even be well known, but whose music is very fine, for instance the symphonies of Jack Gallagher. She has been awarded at least one Grammy. (R.James Tobin)

It has to be JoAnn Falletta, the trailblazing American conductor who has quietly yet systematically gone about dispelling the myth of the "male maestro." Her interpretations stand with the best of them, and her recordings of repertoire that's "rare and well-done" is bringing the music of today (and from yesteryear) to an admiring musical public. She is a well-loved ambassador for classical music who touches the heart and soul in every interaction she has with music-lovers. (Phillip Nones)

JoAnn Falletta has "infiltrated" what may well be the last bastion of male chauvinism in the classical music world: the conductor's podium. She brings flawless technique and passionate music-making to the podium, while at the same time, being a shining light of compassion in a chaotic world. And, she's gorgeous! (Akal Dev Sharonne)

Of all the women I hear or read about in classical music, she is one of the most phenomenally active and visible. She seems, to me, to be the front person for establishing the normality of women in all positions, "even" conducting. My second choice is probably Rachel Barton Pine, but JoAnn Falletta is doing even more to make the public think women's leadership is normal. (Thomas Zaslavsky)

In the 1990's I was living in the Norfolk, Virginia area and was a soprano in the Virginia Symphony Chorus. When we sang choral works with the symphony we were privileged not only to sing under her direction, but also to observe the way she interacted with the orchestra. Her ability to draw out what she wanted in the music, by speaking compellingly while maintaining respect for the instrumentalists, was extraordinary. Today I can enjoy listening to her recordings on Performance Today. (Jan Allen)

Her recordings on Naxos draw me in with their stylish, exquisite and assured performances. I have her recordings of Griffes, Dohnanyi, Fuchs, Ellington, Gliere and Moeran. I also have her recording of works by 4 female composers - Germaine Tailleferre, Lili Boulanger, Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann. There aren't that many female conductors in the Classical world. I admire the women who break into that profession. If her name is on it, it is superb. (David Shankle)

Joann Falletta is a wonderful conductor of two great orchestras, the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony. We have been blessed to have her extraordinary musical leadership in Virginia for 20 years, but sadly this is her last season with us. She has made the orchestra into a top-notch musical organization. Music has flourished here with VSO chorus director Robert Shoup and the Virginia Arts Festival. So JoAnn Falletta has helped create a musical community beyond the VSO. (Earl Godfrey)

Through over twenty years of conducting JoAnn has been a dynamic force encouraging the love of classical music to youth and music lovers of every age! Her Buffalo music minutes on radio are fun and informative and her upbeat, cheerful attitude is a wonderful model for females to take the challenge of conductorship. (Karen Davis)

I nominate trail blazer JoAnn Falletta. One of the first women to graduate from Julliard in Conducting. She helped save the Buffalo Philharmonic, a fine orchestra on hard times. She champions American composers and the lesser known music of The Masters. Multiple recordings with Naxos. Three Grammy Awards. She has set a standard for others, is a guest conductor of Bard College's The Orchestra Now. She has reintroduced me to the greatest hits and introduced me to future ones. I am indebted. (Jonathan Gates)

I first experienced Maestro Falletta in the late 1980's when she was Associate Conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Since then, she's demonstrated that she's capable of WAY more than that . . . . I've been so impressed with her willingness to give "new" music/ performers a chance to be heard: not only is she supporting/encouraging budding composers/musicians, but she's also expanding her audience's "comfort zone" and leading them to a new level of musical appreciation/ enjoyment. (Claudia Burns)

Not only is JoAnn Falletta a great conductor and musician, but she inspires those around her to perform at their best -- perhaps the most important attribute of a great musician. Extremely knowledgeable but not pretentious, very thoughtful and never egocentric, she is both a servant and master of music, and champions lost, forgotten, unknown, and new music with exuberance. And to top it off, one of the nicest and most gracious women you will ever meet. (James Orth)

JoAnn Falletta is a world-renowned conductor who champions music of women with her house band, the Buffalo Philharmonic. As conductor of the Bay Area Women's Philharmonic in the 1980's, she opened my eyes to the fact that women DID compose, conduct and perform. She was the first woman conductor I'd meet. She also became the subject for my Master's project in the early 1990's. Not only did I have the honor of interviewing her, I saw her conduct in the Bay Area and in Buffalo. (Sue Ellen Zagrabelny)

With tireless cheer, energy and enthusiasm, JoAnn built Norfolk's provincial orchestra into a nationally regarded ensemble, became Ulster Orchestra's first American & first female principal conductor, has made 40+ albums, fosters new work, directs two orchestras and guest conducts everywhere, was polled the most popular conductor in the world, is a brilliant, charming, articulate spokesperson for serious music, has won 3 Grammy awards & even made warhorse Bolero as fresh as a thoroughbred colt. (Montague Gammon III)

Of course Ms. Falletta is known around the world. But not a well known fact outside of Hawaii is that she was instrumental in helping reorganizing our symphony when it was in trouble a few years ago. She continues as an artistic director of the Hawaii symphony and frequently conducts here. We are grateful for her guidance. Mahalo Ms Falletta (Sharron McMorrow)

Best woman conductor ever (William Thompson)


Dr. Erin Freeman: Aside from the fact that she is brilliant, fun, and charismatic, Erin's leadership in the Richmond, VA community is extraordinary. In a place burdened with histories of racial and economic disparity, she is a creative light of hope for our future. She understands and conveys the power of music to touch our souls, heal our hurts, and dissolve our divisions. Conducting for the Richmond Ballet, Symphony, or Chorus, she emanates and shares the potency of the music she helps create. (Roy Hoagland)
Emily Remington: Miss Emily Remington has emanated joy teaching college choral students for 60 years, discovering the talent of Jesse Norman. After retirement, she set classical music on fire in Charleston, SC, founding Grace Church's amazing choir, founding Charleston Symphony Orchestra Singers Guild, and helping Menotti found Spoleto Festival. At age 102 she still organizes Spoleto concerts annually. In between she taught me as a 7-year-old violinist how to express joy in classic music. She still inspires. (Katherine King)
Hilary Hahn: Hilary is a superb violinist. She tried to make classical music more accessible by communicating via social media, web interviews, and master classes. (Jim Teed)
I saw Hilary perform at the age of 8 and then 10 years of age. Critics later debated whether child proteges were just technically brilliant or had real talent. She lasted the course, and I followed her career as she became a world class performer with composers such as Edgar Myer writing pieces specially for her. At a recent concert she played several new works including an encore from the program she has started to encourage new works to be written for this purpose. I find this admirable. (Anne Maddox)
Hillary Hahn is a trade mark for what bright young and talented women can do, providing such inspiration as well as pleasure for all young musicians. Needless to say, she is so diverse, exceptionally focused to the key with all pieces regardless of difficulty. She expresses herself with so much strength, enthusiasm and bonding that I have fallen with her. Her awards and dynamic career demonstrate others feel the same way. Always with a wonderful smile and spark for life, I nominate Hillary. (Deborah Hahn)
Jeannette Sorrell: Jeanette Sorrell has been conductor /musical director of Apollo's Fire for many years. She has been the moving force for early music and has been excellence in motion for many years. (Michael Ford)
Grammy award winning founding director of Apollo's Fire, Cleveland's Baroque Orchestra. Her musical skill, entrepreneurship, and keen sense of adventurous programming have succeeded in thrilling and entrancing audiences throughout the world. (David Levy)
Jeanette Sorrell is the founder and director of 'Apollos Fire' a baroque orchestra that has been celebrating Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann, et al. we also were introduced to 'Biber's mysteries' Appalachian music, and 'Orpheus Weeps- a collaboration with tenor Karim Suleyman, which recently won a Grammy. (Joanne Blanchard)
Jennifer Higdon: Jennifer continues to compose music that inspires, invigorates and sometimes challenges me a listener. In short, her music makes me feel more alive and it's is happening RIGHT NOW. (Todd Steed)
I recall hearing a piece of hers several years ago that was simply extraordinarily powerful. Sadly I can't recall the title. (Ira Firestone)
Marin Alsop: She's an inspiring and highly accomplished conductor and I appreciate her appearances on NPR talking about classical music. (Elizabeth Bird)
Marin Alsop is one of the finest conductors in practice today. Her explanations of the music she contacts are Singularly brilliant. She makes every orchestra she contacts sounds like the best. (Rachel Parker)


Akiko Fugimoto: She was one of the five finalists for conductor of Corpus Christi symphony. She wasn't chosen but she had my vote. I really enjoyed the concert she led. (Carol Baldwin)
Alex Shapiro: One of the most influential, and adventurous composers in the electro-acoustic environs of classical music; as well as environmental activist, essayist, advocate for music education, women composers, and the rights of all professional musicians (ASCAP Board of Directors), plus being a really great person--Alex inspires countless people each day! As a composer, the "All Music Guide" said: "[Shapiro's music is] enough to give one hope for the contemporary music scene." (James Ripley)
Alondra de la Parra: An exciting Latina now conducting in Australia, she also conducts around the world. We need for women like her to succeed!!! (Linda Chapin)
Aloysia Friedmann: In 1998 Juilliard graduate Aloysia Friedmann, daughter of classical musicians Laila Storch and Martin Friedmann, set out to present two chamber music concerts on remote Orcas Island in Washington state. The 22nd year of the Festival in 2019 features more than two weeks of concerts, plus community and island events (some free) and year-round salon concerts and artist residencies (working with children from pre-school through grade 12). Ms. Friedmann is a board member of Chamber Music America. (Annette Garver)
Anna Thorvaldsdotir: She composes some of the most beautiful music currently being written. Simply breathtaking! There's no way I can sum up everything on her bio (Peter Mueller)
Antonina Chekhovskaya: I was already listening to a lot of purely instrumental classical music. But when I heard Soprano Antonina Chekhovskaya perform in a concert in Ann Arbor, I realized how great opera could be and now seek out other great operatic performances. (Robert Rowe)
Beth Levin: She is an amazing performer and classical pianist with excellent good moral character, years of not performing but when she gets back on stage she is astonishingly above and beyond. It's time for a woman like her age to rise above and be more recognized. (Johnoscar Villa)
Bronwyn Kortge: Browyn is an outstanding musician and music educator. She teaches vocal music at Mount Desert H.S. Bar Harbor, ME and conducts the Bagaduce Choral in Blue Hill, ME. She is the personification of someone who not only loves music, but through her excellent teaching and inspiring conducting passes that joy onto everyone. She truly enriches lives through music. (Carolyn Friedell)
Candice Mowbray: Candice has shown incredible dedication not only to her own musical journey and performance career, but also to promoting the classical guitar, its history, composers, and performers--particularly women contributors to the classical guitar. (Daniel Webber)
Carrie Magin: Carrie Magin is not only a phenomenal composer, but also an excellent teacher. In her composition studio, I not only learned the mechanics of composition, but also what it means to be a good member of a community. Though many musicians live in a scarcity culture, Dr. Magin always emphasized the importance of mutual collaboration so that musicians work with each other instead of against each other. Because of this, she has helped many musicians become better engaged in their own communities. (Jeffrey Zane Hansen)
Christi Stills: Christi is a pianist, composer, and music teacher, and sets aside time every week to voluntarily perform at nursing homes in her community. She has composed numerous works for piano and even a winning piece for flute and orchestral accompaniment, which she transcribed for her daughter's audition for a local concerto competition. Her selfless eagerness to share the joy of music with others is what makes her an inspiring musician and why my "Classical Woman of the Year" and "of My Life" is my mom. (Chelsae Moore)
Christie Chiles Twillie: Christie's degree and additional higher education is in classical piano performance and pedagogy. She was Musical Director and Artistic Director for a piano company who managed and educated teachers. During this career, she wrote a manual for instructing teachers. Christie is an entrepreneur with her own musical theatre company. She has held multiple positions as theatre Musical Director and has written two scores for a musical and her own play. (Leahgreatta Hairston)
Diane Bish: She has done so much work to bring the pipe organ into the spotlight for the world. She has recorded hundreds of television episodes of "The Joy of Music" featuring organs from all over the world. She now has episodes available on YouTube. As an organist I have learned not only technique for the organ, but repertoire from watching Ms. Bish. (Randall Smith)
Dr. Ellen Ritchey: Dr. Ritchey's impact on students through teaching and the Music Therapy Program at the University of Georgia; her active performances (frequently as guest soloist) in local and regional performing organizations; her engagement of university students and adults in the music ministry program she directs; and the gift of her voice for marriages, anniversaries, funerals, etc., have enriched persons for decades throughout Georgia, engaging us all with classical and other genres of music. (Mary Brown)
Dr. Elsbeth Moser: Elsbeth Moser has been an active proponent for the chromatic button accordion as a concert and chamber music instrument. She published "Das Knopfakkordeon C-Griff" in 1992. She is an internationally acclaimed performance artist. She sponsored the emigration of composer Sofia Gubaidulina from Russia. Her current discography comprises 7 albums. She currently teaches at the University of Music and Drama, Hannover. (Francis Phillips)
Dr. Janette Fishell: Dr. Fishell is currently chair of the organ department of the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University. She is a passionate teacher and beautifully expressive player of organ literature. She has inspired me and many other students to play with intelligence and joyful interpretations of the works of the masters. Hearing her play makes the listener understand why the organ is called the King of instruments. (Noel M Beck)
Dr. Jerry Ann Alt: In 1989, a wide-eyed clarinet major entered the office of an unsuspecting director of choral activities at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM! I auditioned and she put me in the top choir normally reserved for upperclassmen. She asked me what my major was. I told her that I was going to be a band director. She then said, "No, angel. You're going to be a vocal major." She is the biggest influence in my musical career along with many others. I can't do this in 500 words!!! (Orlando-Antonio Jimenez)
Emily Isaacson: Emily is conductor of the Mid-Coast Oratorio Chorale and director of the Portland Bach Experience. She is a choral director who is young, smart, dynamic, enthusiastic and beautiful to watch. She brings a new approach to directing choral music and has created new and educational ways of introducing different kinds of music to the public. She also uses varied locations for her concerts. (Susan Weems)
Emma Lou Diemer: Music by Emma Lou Diemer (b. 1927) is played and published worldwide. From Santa Barbara, CA, she continues to produce fresh, brilliant music for voices and instruments. Her life and work were featured on APM's Pipedreams in 2012. Honors include Kennedy Center, Fulbright, and Eastman School of Music awards, annual ASCAP awards, AGO Composer of the Year, and professor emeritus (UCSB). How does she compose? It's intuition, analysis, and mystery; I sometimes ask myself, "Where did that come from?" (Elizabeth Augsburger)
Florence Crouse: A former legal guardian who was also a high school English teacher influenced my learning classical music through piano lessons from 5-12th grades. As a Native American, I expanded my taste of music with a blend of indigenous melodies, and classical music. I eventually received a 4-year piano scholarship in college. Florence and I lost contact for 38 years and recently reconnected and are now getting reacquainted through long letters between Minneapolis and Lincoln, Nebraska. (Everett Bad Wound)
Gabriela Lena Frank: Gabriela sacrifices her time and energy, delaying important commissions to help emerging composers. Having been named composer in residence with The Philadelphia Orchestra she arranged for commissions for young composers. She gave me, a 62-year-old composer, whose career has gone nowhere, a chance to write a piece for a major string quartet. (Antonio Celaya)
Gao Hong: Reading about this award, I thought, Gao Hong does all of this! Coming to America 25 years ago she found most Americans had never heard of the pipa, the Chinese lute she plays. She set out to change that. She began performing with musicians from other cultures, composing for pipa with Western instruments, and composing and performing pipa concerti worldwide. Soon becoming in great demand at chamber music festivals, she now also directs Chinese and global music ensembles at Carleton College. (Paul Dice)
Gao Hong: I would like to nominate an extraordinary musician who shines beyond the stage. This woman is a world-class performer, composer, conductor, mentor, and advocate for world music. She's one of the best Pipa players in the world and is dedicated to bringing people together through her loving charisma and musical talent. Her ability to inspire and harness creativity matches no teacher I've had before. Hong Gao is her name, and I am honored to be one of her many students and friends. Thank you! (Yifan Wu)
Grace Bernard: Grace Bernard Composition especially The Story of Job Opera touched my heart in places like never before. She writes with so much passion and music that is beyond this world. Her expressions in writing and voice takes you to a realm so deep. Her music is like a story all conveying meanings. I do not love to miss her annual concerts that shows her compositions because in them I find something new out of the regular, something classical. She is my Performance Today Classical woman of the year. (Martin-Joe Oforka)
Helene Grimaud: A listening to her performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto #5, "Emperor" will explain all. She is also very devoted to wolf preservation and sanctuaries for them. (Roy Nickerson)
Jacqueline Gerber: Jacqueline Gerber, aka 'Queen of the Morn' of WCLV 104.9 FM from 6 am-10am, starts the day for Northeastern Ohioans with a gentle baton of wit, sophistication, and lively humour. A steady presence on the Cleveland classical scene, Queen Jackie has done so much for not only the classical community, but the arts realm as well. Listeners discover musical gems, hear well curated programs, weather updates, pet mews, and naughty etymology. (Joanne Blanchard)
Jeanmarie Riccobono: Jeanmarie has performed with the Traverse symphony orchestra as principal clarinet for over 20 years, has taught music at the Montessori children's House in Traverse City, Michigan, the Bayview music festival, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts. This year she performed the Copeland clarinet Concerto as soloist with the Traverse City orchestra. The performance was electrifying and the audience jumped to their feet - Transcending all of the just soloists with national reputation. (Tom Riccobono)
Jessye Norman: She is one of the greatest singers of her generation, recognized all over the world. Her impact on the world of opera and song was huge throughout her long career. Now partly retired, she has established a children's music education program. I was fortunate to be a student of hers when we were both at the University of Michigan, and she fanned the flame of my lifelong love of opera. She is monumental on so many levels that I can't think of a more deserving recipient of this honor. (Deborah Norman)
Joyce DiDonato: In addition to being one of the best mezzo sopranos today, DiDonato has championed new and unknown works. Her performance at Stonewall Inn was moving and brave. And her talk on the inner critic to students at Juilliard changed my life. (Marc Newhouse)
Karina Canellakis: We saw and heard her as guest conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in January. The program, Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3, Britten's Four Sea Interludes, and Elgar's In the South were led with energy and grace. The orchestra and the audience, alike, were together with her in a marvelous morning of music. We think she is the perfect candidate for Classical Woman of the Year. (Kenneth and Patricia Grabach)
Katherine Bergman: Katherine Bergman is a young composer in the Twin Cities. Her music, while modern, is very accessible and listenable. One of her pieces for concert band was recently performed by the U.S. Coast Guard Band in New London, CT. The same piece has been selected for performance at the International Society for Contemporary Music festival in Estonia in May 2019 -- one of only three pieces from the USA selected. (Full disclosure, she is also my daughter -- but she inspires me, nevertheless.) (Mark Johns)
Katherine Elsner: Katherine Elsner D.D.S. is passionately committed to classical music. In 35+ years practicing dentistry she created "Mozart Mondays", an institution in our office, helping patients relax. She advocates for the Des Moines Symphony, supporting it 25+ years, offers complimentary symphony tickets to employees and patients. She treated her staff to an outdoor celebration of Bravo! Vail's 30th season at the Gerald R. Ford amphitheater. Support of the classical music community inspires many. (Meghan Leto)
Kathy Saltzman Romey: It's impossible to keep up Kathy; she works tirelessly, is incredibly dedicated to her students, and constantly comes up with all kinds of amazing musical partnerships, and she has kept this up for decades with no sign of slowing down. She is an incomparable musician but, more importantly, she is also a person of great integrity; she is committed to doing good in the world. (Ahmed Anzaldua)
Kathy Saltzman Romey: Kathy is a well accomplished musician and conductor who brought Minnesota Chorale to a higher level since she took up the artistic director position. I personally learned from her leadership while I was a singer member and developed my musicianship and enriched my life. She enriched me beyond music but also in human relationship and other characters. She is an example and role model of my life. (Gigi Yau)
Kimberly Spitz Donley: Kim is a composer, singer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and connoisseur of music. A music therapist for 40 years, she is currently working as a music therapist at two hospitals and teaches in Augsburg's master's program. She leads with joy, humility and creativity. Her composition "All Shall Be Well" (7-part a capella for women) was recently performed by the River Falls Women's choir. Inspired by Julian of Norwich, it was written in the aftermath of her breast cancer diagnosis. (Doug Donley)
Kristine Robinson: Every Saturday after fencing, we would listen to the Met Opera simulcast, which got me listening to more classical music. (Suzie Robinson)
Laura Colgate and Joy-Leilani Garbutt: These two young musicians, both finishing their doctorates with dissertations on women composers, met for the first time in June 2018. They decided to create a non-profit called the Boulanger Initiative "to promote music composed by women through performance, education, and commissions." They raised funds, became a 501C, began advocacy programs, and launched with an amazing 3-day festival March 8-10, 2019. They have done tremendous work already in raising the profile of women in music. Inspiring! (Cora Cooper)
Libby Larsen: Libby Larson is one of America's most performed living composers. A Grammy winner, her music of over 500 works spans every genre, from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral works, and is widely recorded. Ms. Larson is sought after for commissions and premieres by major artists, ensembles and orchestras around the world. She co-founded the MN Composer's Forum, now the American Composer's Forum, a national community of artists who share common concerns, aspirations and goals. (Patricia Hoyt)
Linda Anderson: My mother is a true champion of Classical Music. She has influenced virtually every person in her local community by bringing music to their lives. She is a teacher, performer, and a caring shoulder to cry-on when one requires it. This is why I nominate Ms Linda Kay Anderson as Classical Woman of the Year! (Andrew Anderson)
Lisa Donald: As a cellist, Lisa is a passionate performer. As a music teacher, Lisa is an inspiration. As President of The Sky Velvet Vassar Music Foundation, a 501(c)3 run completely by volunteers, Lisa is dedicated to young people and the pursuit of musical studies. Before my daughter, Sky, passed away at the age of 13, Lisa gave her the gift of loving to play the cello. And so it is with a heart full of forever gratitude and daily wonder that I nominate her as Classical Woman of the Year. (Vanessa Vassar)
Lora Black: For nearly 30 years, the woman I'm nominating has shared classical music with thousands of people. She has introduced us to an incredible array of performers playing an even broader array of pieces on a wide variety of instruments. On special occasions ranging from holidays to all sorts of things to celebrate (even including total eclipses) she selects and shares appropriate classics. And, what's even more impressive is she asks her vast audience what we'd like to hear, then she plays it for us. (Randall Bretz)
Lynne Warfel: Lynne Warfel has an excellent weekly radio/podcast program featuring movie soundtracks and detailed information about the composers of these great soundtracks. She is so upbeat and fun to listen to, and I learned so much from her weekly show! Thank you Lynne Warfel! (Jackie Aivaliotis)
Maja Radovanlija: She is guitarist, musician, collaborator extraordinaire, mentor, instructor, advocate and member of Minneapolis Guitar Ensemble. My time's running out. It's late and I just put in a 15 hour day, so I have to crash. Please think about it. Love, RB (Richard Burns)
Marianne LaCrosse: I first met Marianne when I interned for her at Music@Menlo. Under her mentorship, I inherited characteristics that I still possess: attention to detail, a fierce work ethic, and an intense passion for classical music. In the four years that I've known her, she's been an incredible mentor, role model, and friend who always reminds me that my dreams and ambitions MATTER. She has helped hundreds of young musicians and arts administrators and I can't think of a better Classical Woman of the Year. (Abigail Choi)
Maureen Meyers: Maureen Meyers, who teaches, now, in The Brookline, MA schools, is a most amazing educator. She taught in my elementary school for a few years, wonderful years, educating students, and many teachers and parents, not only to sing songs, but through the historic modes, the culture and lives of our past civilizations, and current cultures. Her "music" was integrated with the other subjects in school. We, I an Art educator, and the classroom teachers, also learned from and with her. Miraculous! (Leslie Miller)
Melissa Ousley: For the past 25 years, classical music announcer (now at MPR) Melissa Ousley has been allowing classical music to be the soundtrack of my life. I have learned so much from her, but it never feels like a classroom. Instead she has shown me the breadth and depth of something that has ensured my time on earth, whether happy or sad, is enhanced. She is so versatile, warm, sincere, and welcoming. She knows Minnesota Opera and Minnesota Orchestra. She plays the piano herself & is mother to a cellist. (Sarah Entenmann)
Micaela Jayne Yarosh: Micaela Yarosh deserves this honor as a student of classical music for 18 years! Beginning with Suzuki violin at St Joseph School of music in St Paul to college at the University of Minnesota School of Music in May 2019. I have learned so much about classical music by listening to play over the years! I have seen you sacrifice because you want to improve and play whatever piece you are working on to the best of your ability. (Sheri Yarosh)
Miho Sasaki: Born in Tokyo, Japan 1978, composer, pianist, accordionist, teacher moved to the US in 2000 and has influenced and inspired many young musicians by her tireless passionate work in music. As a piano teacher of countless students, composer of significant works for orchestra, wind ensemble and chamber ensemble, concert pianist for chamber music and piano concerti with orchestras across the US, and composing for / performing on bayan accordion inspiring a completely new serious accordion culture. (Michael Schelle)
Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt: She is a young artist and rising star, member of the Dover Quartet, a recognized and well known chamber music group in the country and the world. I admire her for her commitment to bring classical music to all audiences in a different light, for her work in teaching and exposing young generations to classical music. (Soraya Gonzalez-Pajaro)
Nicole Clark: Mrs Clark is an amazing MS band teacher! In a modern world, she is opening the hearts of 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders to classical music. They start in 5th grade as an elective, and in the December concert they play Tchaikovsky! Each semester, or every concert, they pick a country, a time, a type of music, a composer and they study that with the stories behind the pieces - why it was written, for whom, the period in music history! The students learn so much and enjoy her classes a lot!! (Camelia Alb)
Nora Tycast: women are so good at 'diversification! (Barbi Eysselinck)
Patricia J. Misslin: In 1966 Pat Misslin was hired by the State University of New York at Potsdam, the Crane School, of Music to teach voice to a studio made up of Music Majors who were almost all majoring in Music Education. She came as a young, gifted, passionate singer and brought energy, joy and inspiration to all of her students with the same measure of attention and instruction that she showered on famous students Renee Fleming and Stephanie Blythe. She has inspired countless young singers over the years. (Mary DeMarsh)
Patricia Vandergon Stumpf: While still in elementary school Pat began singing in school performances so her father had her take piano lessons. She sang and played through high school. Eventually Pat took voice and piano lessons at McPhail. For 30 years beginning in the mid 1960's she gave piano lessons to many children in Minneapolis and later Coon Rapids. She ushered at the Ordway in St. Paul and volunteered at Orchestra Hall in Mpls. At 92 she still plays the piano for 3-4 hours a day and sings thoughout the day. (Diane Heuring)
Rachel Barton Pine: I have been a fan of Rachel's since she was a young Chicago performer. I lived in Chicago1985-95 and was able to follow her closely via Chicago Tribune articles. I know she's a great friend of Performance Today, so there's nothing I can say that you do not already know. I vividly recall her brave recovery and return to the stage after the train accident. During her 30+ year career she has excelled and celebrates and mentors musicians of all races and ages. 500 characters isn't enough! (Deborah Dayman)
Rebecca Albers and Maiya Papach: I know that this is for a nominee, but I cannot nominate just one of these women without the other. Becca and Maiya lead each lead our world class orchestras' viola sections - the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In addition, they are teachers and world class chamber musicians, performing locally with Accordo. Becca and Maiya are incredible musicians, inspiring audiences everywhere. Lastly, they are first class human beings - humble, appreciatiative and generous. (Susan Scott)
Rebecca Rockhill: I'll never forget the first time I walked into Mrs. Rockhill's choir class in the 9th grade. Intimidated and somewhat shy, I could've never guessed that this woman would grow to become one of the most influential in my life. From the first time I performed with her choir I was obsessed, and she continued to nurture my talent in playing the piano/organ and an undying love for classical music. Her accomplishments and awards are many, but her influence in my life and many others is the greatest. (Britton McCreless)
Rita Juhl: Rita has been a lifelong friend of my mom sang for her wedding and many others....rita was my piano teacher and was the most awesome teacher ever!!!!! She gave me such awesome music....from Bach to Brahms to Gershwin to Debussy and sooooo many more....she taught me so much about each composer....and fostered my deep love of classical music. She was also the organist at st peders Lutheran Church in minneapolis for over 60 amazing amazing musician...soli deo Gloria!!!! (Elizabeth Anderson)
Sara Jobin: A dedicated, talented conductor, as well as being an inspiration to all those around her. (Mary Kennedy)
Sarah Willis: Ms. Willis--beyond being a world-class musician with the Berliner Philharmoniker--has long been a visible and vocal advocate for classical music and classical musicians internationally through many forms of media. (Ron Bruner)
Susan McDuffie: Susan McDuffie radiates talent, grace, and energy. Associations fall to son Robert, violinist, and daughter Margery, pianist, but her immense musical talent and devotion to her students deserve celebration. In May she will be 89. Weekly, she sits with my 6 year-old, pounding out piano fundamentals; then whisks off to parties and community music functions she orchestrates, never slowing down. The world catches up with HER, to be sure. She inspires, in generosity and tenacity, to live with joy. (Monica Stevens-Kirby)
Susan McDuffie: Susan is a professional pianist who performs and teaches. Often times she performs for churches, weddings and memorial services gratious. Her students range from children to adults and many of her students have become professional entertainers because of her influence. She belongs to all the musical organizations in her area always assuming a leadership role. She has influenced me in innumerable ways to appreciate music. (Doris Wood-Alexander)
Susan Spurbeck-Webb: She was an assistant conductor for the San Francisco Opera and was recruited by James Levine to be the head of choruses and assistant conductor of the New York Metropolitan Opera. This was at a time when women were not conductors! (Myrtie Webb)
Suzanne Farrin: Suzanne Farrin's music speaks for itself -- first and foremost, it's beautiful. After that, I'd say it's fantastically creative, amazingly diverse, and consistently well-received. (Scott Turkington)
Thea Kano: She's the best choral director/conductor I've worked with, who "spoke music" in a way that makes sense to me. When my current director asks for certain changes, I think of how Thea might describe the same thing and make the appropriate adjustments. (Karen Wahl)
Yuja Wang: Brilliant classical pianist with a enchanting personality. She adds an appealing human quality to her music which attracts (and perhaps introduces) a wide audience to the genre. (Preston Davis)
Yuko Heberlein: After I graduated from the Juilliard School with degrees in harpsichord, I had been just a performer. After I moved to Minnesota and met Yuko who is a retired violinist from SPCO, we started to perform together. I had no desire to compose after 20 years of not composing, but she encouraged me to compose again in 2003.Since then I wrote more than 30 pieces including an opera, recorded, broadcasted, and had been given many awards on my compositions. Without Yuko I am not where I am today. (Asako Hirabayashi)

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