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JoAnn Falletta becomes Ulster Orchestra's first female conductor

The Ulster Orchestra will start its new programme on a high note after appointing its first woman to the role of principal conductor.

American JoAnn Falletta succeeded Ulsterman Kenneth Montgomery, who retired some time ago.

She is the first woman and the first American to be appointed to this prestigious post, which is one of the most important roles in the arts and cultural life of Northern Ireland.

JoAnn, who is the Grammy award-winning music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in New York, has been described by the New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation”.

She has been guest conductor with the Los Angeles and Dallas Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony.

Talking to the Belfast Telegraph she said: “The Ulster Orchestra is one of the great orchestras of these islands and it has been a cornerstone of cultural life here in good times and bad for many years. So it is a huge honour for me to become its principal conductor.”

JoAnn conducted the Ulster Orchestra for the first time last year during one the BBC’s Invitation Concerts.

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She described it as “a wonderful experience” and added: “I loved the spontaneity and energy of the musicians and I am so looking forward to exploring a repertoire that is rich and diverse in the coming season.”

The orchestra's new programme for the 2011-12 season is due to be announced today.

JoAnn will conduct the Orchestra in a new pre-season concert in the Ulster Hall on Wednesday, September 21.

She is 12th in a long list of distinguished conductors in the history of the Ulster Orchestra, which was formed in 1966.

They include Bryden Thompson, Vernon Handley, Yan Pacal Tortelier, and most recently, Kenneth Montgomery.

For more information visit www.ulsterorchestra.com.

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JoAnn Falletta, was born on February 27, 1954, in Queens, New York City. She is regarded by the New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation” and is currently the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in New York and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. She has presented more than 100 world premieres of classical compositions and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has described her as a “leading force” in music.

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