SARASOTA - She guides the talented musicians of Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra seemingly effortlessly. Three time Grammy award winner JoAnn Falletta is a force to be reckoned with in the world of classical music.

She is honored as 2019’s  Classical Woman of the Year, nominated by her peers whom credit her with championing the way for females to take to the conductor’s podium.  The New York Times called her “one of our finest conductors of her generation,” yet Falletta takes this praise with a humble and gracious demeanor.

“I was very surprised and very honored.  I think when we’re making music, when we’re working when we’re working with our orchestra we’re not thinking about those things we’re thinking about playing a wonderful Romeo and Juliet or playing a wonderful Brahms Concerto. That’s what it’s about," Falletta said.

Falletta brings a palpable passion to the podium, evoking raw emotion through music not only from those she directs, but also from those who witness this master at work.

“It is amazing! It is amazing to just lift up that baton and hear the sound of the orchestra. And of course I have the best spot, I’m right in the middle of it. I’m right in the middle of that sound.  I mean, sometimes I feel like I can levitate when I’m listening to the orchestra," Falletta said.

Though she takes audiences on a musical journey with world-renown classical concerto pieces, Falletta and her orchestra have also made 24 recordings of lesser known composers. As for the maestra herself, picking a favorite is not so easy.

“It’s really on what we’re working on this week. I’m totally totally in the world of Brahms and Borodin and Prokofiev," Falletta said.

Bursting with bright contagious energy, Falletta explains how she likens her genre to a different category of art.

“It’s ear color, it’s tonal color. I always think of it that way. In a way the conductor is like a painter. Where you’re layering colors on top of each other, you’re mixing tones together to create just the right blend.”

As for her hopes for her industry…

“The pinnacle for me will be when we don’t say any more women conductor or women composer or women cellist, that we just talk about…musicians," Falletta said.