Chautauqua Symphony, Institution reach agreement

CHAUTAUQUA — Chautauqua Institution has reached a new agreement with the musicians of the resident Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

The agreement extends the current Collective Bargaining Agreement through September 2021, but makes some important adjustments that provide for flexibility and creativity in planning the ensemble’s 2021 season.

“I am pleased and grateful we have been able to reach an agreement that will serve both our patrons and CSO musicians during the 2021 season as we all look forward to an enriching and soul-nourishing 2021 Summer Assembly,” said Michael E. Hill, president of Chautauqua Institution.

“This hope-filled news allows us to immediately work together to create a season that balances safe practices and bold performances,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, interim senior vice president and chief program officer at Chautauqua. “Our gratitude to the musicians for placing trust in artistic leadership will be met with programming that allows us to discover emerging composers, revel in favorite classics, explore smaller ensembles and do what artists always do — inspire the community we exist to serve.”

Plans for the CSO’s 2021 season will incorporate a number of necessary changes and procedures to ensure the health and safety of musicians and patrons alike, all aligned with industry best practices and pending state and federal regulations. Performances will occur Weeks Three through Seven of Chautauqua’s nine-week Summer Assembly, and will often feature a smaller ensemble, with all musicians distanced and non-wind and -brass players masked. Guest soloists will be limited in 2021, but the repertoire will be designed to showcase the members of the CSO, allowing the community a closer and more intimate look at the vast talent of our resident orchestra.

“While these are not our ideal planning circumstances, this season does offer us an opportunity to experiment and innovate,” said Rossen Milanov, CSO music director. “We’re excited about the opportunities in 2021 to feature the virtuosity within this amazing orchestra. Most of all, we’re grateful to be planning to play together again in front of our beloved Chautauqua audience.”

The limitations presented by health and safety procedures provide an opportunity to highlight a diverse range of composers and compositions, in keeping with a commitment to both tradition and innovation. As an example, the CSO’s opening night will feature Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 and Gabriela Lena Frank’s Elegia Andina.

CSO member Leslie Linn, trumpet, served as chair of the musicians’ negotiations committee.

“As we prepare for the upcoming season at Chautauqua, we are grateful to have an opportunity to be back together, in-person, to perform for the Chautauqua community, filling the void that has existed for all of us since in-person performing ceased due to the pandemic,” Linn said. “The musicians of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra are excited to have this agreement in place. We thank the Institution for working with us over many months to reach this agreement and are eager to return to Chautauqua and the audience we love.”

Milanov will share the Amphitheater podium in 2021 with Stuart Chafetz, the CSO’s longtime principal timpanist, who was named the ensemble’s first-ever principal pops conductor in November 2019. With the cancelation of the 2020 season, 2021 will be Chafetz’s first with his new title, though he has long served as a go-to conductor for CSO pops concerts.

In addition to the CSO schedule, 2021 patrons will enjoy the Music School Festival Orchestra on Monday evenings Weeks One through Four, with a special additional performance on Saturday, July 3, keeping symphonic music as the centerpiece of Chautauqua’s Independence Day celebration.


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