Nanna had played with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for 54 years

Mary Louise Nanna

Mary Louise Nanna

Mary Louise Nanna, first violinist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO), based in Buffalo, New York; and founder and conductor of the Ars Nova Musicians’ Chamber Orchestra, has died. She was 83 years old.

Born into a family of musicians, Nanna won full scholarships to the Eastman School of Music and to Marywood College, training as a violinist and conductor. She joined the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1967, but, having graduated at a time when women conductors were almost unheard of, she never succeeded in securing a conducting position with a full orchestra. Instead, she created her own opportunity, in 1978, by founding Ars Nova - a chamber orchestra, which frequently performed in Buffalo. Later on she also conducted the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C, becoming the first woman ever to do so; and the Greater Buffalo Opera Company.

Her accolades included Fulbright and Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, a Corso di Perfectionamento Certificate in Violin and Chamber Music from Rome’s Accademia di Santa Cecilia, performance medals from the University of Perugia and a Presidential Medal from Marywood University.

Read: Violinist Dennis Kim appointed concertmaster of Buffalo Philharmonic

On Nanna’s passing JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, wrote: ‘The Buffalo Philharmonic family and I are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of our beloved violinist Marylouise Nanna this week. Marylouise grew up in Buffalo in a family of musicians, and she joined the BPO in 1966. She was one of the most well known members of the orchestra- not only for her presence in the first violin section- but for her extraordinary work as a conductor and the founder of Ars Nova musicians. Her concerts often featured BPO members and their families, and were extremely popular.’