08XX17 SacredSong FinalThreeTaps CB219


February 2, 2018

Dear Chautauquans,

We write to share information about efforts underway to repair the console, the control desk, of the 1907 Massey Memorial Organ. The console was damaged recently due to a leak caused by ice and snowmelt at the Amphitheater. Knowing that many members of the Chautauqua community and, indeed, generations of families cherish the sounds of our iconic organ as a centerpiece of their Chautauqua experience, we share the following information to both inform you of the problem and assure you of our collaborative work plan to address it.

While any threat to a resource such as this is troubling, we are confident in the team that is working toward the repair of the console and will continue to keep you informed of the progress as steps proceed this spring. Thankfully, the beloved Massey Organ, its pipework and the essential systems contained within the organ chamber itself, is completely unaffected. The damage, and the focus of this update, is to the console (keyboard and housing).

With best regards and gratitude for your attention, understanding and support,

Michael E. Hill

Jared Jacobsen
Organist and Coordinator of Worship and Sacred Music

Massey Organ Console Damage Report and Restoration Plan

During a routine inspection in late January, Chautauqua Institution personnel discovered water damage to the console of the Massey Memorial Organ, apparently caused by a leak from snowmelt during a stretch of warmer temperatures following a period of heavy snow, freezing and sub-zero temperatures. (The console is the unit with keys and stops that the organist plays from the stage.) As is our usual practice, the organ console was stored for the winter in its backstage Amphitheater compartment, with power maintained to its internal computers and moisture-removing damp chasers, under a protective covering (not waterproof, to prevent condensation). Between routine inspections, the most recent occurring one week prior, meltwater leaked into the compartment, permeating the protective covering into the console and its four keyboards.

At the time of discovery, Chautauqua staff removed the console from its compartment and immediately notified Paul Fischer of the Fischer Organ Company. Paul along with his son, Mark, led the Erie, Pennsylvania-based team who restored the entire 1907 instrument in the early 1990s. The pair has guided the organ's maintenance since. Following an on-site inspection, Paul Fischer reported extensive damage to the console's ivory keyboards and to the combination pistons and drawknob stop controls. The cherrywood and walnut console is largely the result of the early-’90s organ restoration; the keyboards date to 1972 and were incorporated into the current unit. The Massey is the largest of the four outdoor pipe organs extant around the world.

In consultation with the Fischers and longtime organist Jared Jacobsen, Chautauqua Institution is taking the following steps with the goal of returning the restored and fully functional console to the Amphitheater in time for the launch of the 2018 season:

  • The manual keyboards will be removed and restored by specialists in that field. Since ivory is no longer used in such restorations, a suitable alternative material (now regarded among industry standards) will be installed. The Fischers and Jared Jacobson will oversee this process.
  • The console itself, including the state-of-the-art computers and electronics it houses, which we believe to be unharmed, will be evaluated and serviced by the company helmed by Mark Fischer.

Chautauqua personnel, in consultation with building and design contractors, are investigating the cause of the leak and will implement solutions as well as additional electronic monitoring and inspection protocols to prevent such damage from happening again or elsewhere in the facility. We have confirmed this is an isolated problem and no other parts of the facility have experienced ice or water damage.

The timeline for this plan calls for the restored console to be returned the Amphitheater no later than mid- June. With the guidance of Paul and Mark Fischer and Jared Jacobsen, we are investigating temporary organ solutions should the repairs take longer than projected.

The costs for the restoration are not yet determined, but we expect they will be covered by a combination of insurance and the Institution's capital maintenance budget.

We will provide subsequent updates as information becomes available through the pre-season period via email and at this page on Chautauqua Institution's website. Should you have questions about this message, please send an email to the address above right and we will do our best to provide a response as soon as possible. In addition, from these questions and answers, we will curate a Frequently Asked Questions and Answers list that will be posted to this page.


As a community whose origins span nearly a century and a half, Chautauqua Institution welcomes to its historic grounds thousands of returning and new guests (referred to as Chautauquans) each year. Time-honored traditions and an endearing “shorthand” of our own contribute to the distinctive character of the Chautauqua experience. Below is a brief guide to help new visitors navigate their Chautauqua experience. 

The Amp: Short for the open-air Amphitheater, our biggest venue and stage for worship, lectures, shows and performances, and community gatherings. The Amp has a total capacity of 6,000, with seating for 4,500 on traditional wooden benches (consider bringing a seat cushion!).

Bestor Plaza: Chautauqua’s front lawn and town square, a popular free-form public space for family picnics, conversation, games and leisure.

Brick walk: The primary pedestrian artery for navigating the Chautauqua grounds. Most of the Institution’s primary performance venues and community gathering spaces fall along these paths. If you’re on a brick walk, chances are you’ll find your destination.

Chautauquan (sha-TAW-quin): How we refer to one another, whether your family has owned property and visited Chautauqua every year since its founding, or you are experiencing Chautauqua for the first time.

Club: Short for Boys’ and Girls’ Club, our popular day camp for children entering grades 2–10.

CSO: Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra

The Daily: Short for The Chautauquan Daily, the official daily newspaper of Chautauqua Institution. The Daily is essential for navigating the dozens of programs offered each day.

The grounds: How we refer to Chautauqua Institution’s lakeside campus.

Hall of Philosophy: A Parthenon-like outdoor venue and unique space to take part in a lecture or worship service. Capacity under the roof is limited, so attendees often bring a blanket or chair to sit and listen from the adjacent grove.

Old First Night: Chautauqua’s birthday, celebrated each year on the first Tuesday in August to honor the start date of the first Chautauqua assembly in 1874. All-day festivities include a traditional evening ceremony, family-friendly entertainment, and cake — plus a popular annual 2.7-mile road race the preceding Saturday,

Q-and-A: A hallmark of Chautauqua programs. Nearly all public lectures end with an extended audience question-and-answer session with the presenter(s). Ushers will provide paper notepads for questions in the Amp, or submit questions on Twitter #CHQ2018.

Weeks and themes: Chautauqua’s nine-week summer season is divided by week into nine separate themes framing topics for deep discussion. Those staying for extended periods often refer to weeks by their number within the season (Week Four, etc.). 

The YAC: Short for Youth Activities Center, a popular gathering place for young Chautauquans for food, games and YACtivities.

Chautauqua Opera Invasion will be taking an intermission during the 2020-2021 school year. CI Arts Education is hoping to offer this program again in the 2021-2022 school year – so stay tuned to this space!

Students get up-close and personal with Chautauqua Opera Company Young Artists as they visit elementary classrooms for arts-integrated lessons linking together opera and social emotional learning, then perform for the entire student body. Students will also get to find out if they can sing louder than on opera singer – and some will even get to star in the show.

Chautauqua Opera Invades Southwestern School
The Post-Journal, June 9, 2018

Chautauqua 'Opera Invasions' Set To Visit Area Schools
The Post-Journal, June 6, 2019


Sample Curriculum Guide: Chautauqua Opera Invasion


Sample Classroom Visit Script: Chautauqua Opera Invasion


The way dancers move tells a story, crafted by the beauty of the human form. Pending the approval of performance offerings on-grounds during the 2021 Summer Assembly Season, CI Arts Education will present a remote learning Field Trip experience, based on the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet’s Spring Gala performance in the Chautauqua Amphitheater. The CRYB is the region’s premier school of classical ballet, preparing young dancers to join the ranks of professional dancers in companies all around the nation. Students will enjoy video of portions of the performance and be invited to join in the music and movements themselves in their classrooms or at home.


To learn more about the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet, please visit www.cryb.net.

Athenaeum Hotel
3 South Lake Drive
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-4444


Bellinger Hall
77 Hedding Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6241


Bratton Theater
35 Pratt Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6233


Brawdy Theater Studios
67 Hurst Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6233


Chautauqua Amphitheater
31 Roberts Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6250


Chautauqua Bookstore
67 Bestor Plaza
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-2151


Chautauqua Boys' and Girls' Club
63 South Lake Drive
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6295


Chautauqua Golf Club
4731 West Lake Road
Chautauqua, NY 14722
(716) 357-6211


Chautauqua Institution 
1 Ames Avenue 
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6250


Chautauqua Institution School of Art
19 Prospect Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 836-2787


Chautauqua Institution Vistors' Center
10 Roberts Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6490


Chautauqua Police Department
7 Massey Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6225


Children's School
26 Hurst Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6250


CLSC Veranda
18 Miller Avenue,
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6293


The Colonnade
1 Ames Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6200


Hall of Philosophy
1 Haven Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6250


Heirloom Restaurant
3 South Lake Drive
Mayville, NY, 14722
(716) 357-4444


Hultquist Center
19 Miller Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6348


Jane A. Gross Opera Center
1 West Lake Road
Chautauqua, NY 14722
(716) 357-6286


Main Gate Welcome Center
1 Massey Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6250


Norton Hall
33 Pratt Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6286


Oliver Archives Center
52 South Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6332


The Smith Memorial Library
21 Miller Avenue
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6296


Turner Community Center
4840 West Lake Road
Chautauqua, NY, 14722
(716) 357-6430