Chautauqua Institution today announced that Marty W. Merkley, vice president and director of programming, will retire from his post at the end of September 2015.

Always referring to his work at CHQ as that of "facilitator," Merkley is a beloved public figure on the grounds, responsible for much of the programming the Institution stages each summer. In his 25 years of visionary leadership, Merkley has seen the Institution through a major expansion in the breadth and quality of its artistic programming, with an emphasis on inter-arts collaboration. He joined the CHQ staff as director of programming in 1991 and was appointed a vice president in 1995.

"Marty's contributions to CHQ have been immeasurable," said Tom Becker, president of Chautauqua Institution. "For 25 years, every ounce of his talent and humanity has been used for the benefit of this institution. Our gratitude to him is immense."

Merkley has helped shepherd critical investments in CHQ's artistic programming during a period of financial hardship in arts communities across the United States. In particular, his tenure has seen the construction of two new major performance venues, Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall and Fletcher Music Hall, and millions of dollars in renovations to nearly every other artistic facility, including the School of Music campus and the world-class galleries at Strohl Art Center and Fowler-Kellogg Art Center. He has also helped guide the continued evolution of the Chautauqua Amphitheater, including a major restoration of the iconic Massey Memorial Organ.

Nearly all of the current CHQ artistic directors and School of Music leadership came on board during Merkley's time as director of programming. Through his leadership, CHQ in 2008 became just the fourth summer music festival in the U.S. to be designated an All-Steinway piano festival. Merkley's tenure has seen the first and several subsequent recordings of popular NPR programs at the Amphitheater, including Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" and "From the Top," hosted by Christopher O'Riley (the latter returns June 30, 2015). At his urging, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir returned to CHQ multiple times after decades away. Merkley has also helped CHQ establish and maintain deep, meaningful relationships with some of the most brilliant young artists in the classical arts today, including pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk and violinist Augustin Hadelich.

Additionally, the CHQ community's involvement with its arts programs and artists flourished under Merkley's guidance. Of the formal community support organizations active today in all art forms, only opera's existed before his tenure, and it was his idea to introduce Social Links, a series of receptions for guest artists and conductors hosted by Chautauquans following each of the CSO's performances. Merkley also supported the establishment and ongoing expansion of Chautauqua Connections, an organization that pairs talented student artists with supportive CHQ community members.

"CHQ has afforded me many opportunities that I would have never imagined possible when I arrived here in March 1991," Merkley said. "We have worked hard, been fantastically creative and accomplished so much. For this I will always be proud and grateful."

As director of programming, Merkley oversees all performing and visual arts presentations at the Institution, both professional and pre-professional, including the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Chautauqua Opera, Chautauqua Dance, Chautauqua School of Music (instrumental, piano and voice), Chautauqua Theater Company, the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, all popular entertainment scheduled in the Amphitheater and the Logan Chamber Music Series, which he founded and launched in 1993.

During the 65 days of the CHQ season, Merkley oversees some 1,000 summer faculty and staff in CHQ's arts departments, producing some 2,000 events and managing all production services provided in the Institution's 14 major performance venues.

With a background in classical music, opera, theater and dance, Merkley came to Chautauqua Institution from the New World Symphony in Miami where he was a founding member and general manager. Before that, he served as manager of the opera department of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. 

As part of his farewell season, Merkley will direct two performances of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana during the 2015 CHQ season, at 8:15 p.m. on July 25 and Aug. 15, in the Amphitheater.

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Calling its Amphitheater project “too important to the Institution’s mission not to get it right,” Chautauqua Institution President Tom Becker recommended today to the Institution’s board of trustees that “decisions on proceeding with the Amphitheater development project be deferred to the Board’s August 2015 meeting.”

The later approval will likely mean a delay in the start of construction on the Amphitheater until the fall of 2016.

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Nov. 18, 2014 — Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and Annie Gosfield are just one of 12 orchestras and composers who have been selected to receive Music Alive: New Partnerships grants of $7,500 each from the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA. Matching composers and orchestras who have not previously worked together, the program will support a series of one-week residencies between 2014 and 2016, each culminating in the performance of an orchestral work from the composer’s catalog. Orchestras with operating budgets of approximately $7 million and below were eligible to apply.

“CHQ is proud to be part of the New Music USA composer residence program,” said Rossen Milanov, who was appointed in October as the CSO’s ninth music director. “The music of Annie Gosfield will resonate perfectly with the spirit of the summer festival, with its focus on cross-pollinating cultures, ideas and experiences.”

Forty-four orchestras and 219 composers applied for the program and two artistic panels selected the 12 grantees. Each residency will include a performance of a work by the composer, as well as individually tailored events, enabling the composers to reach new audiences, interact with youth, and take part in community-centered activities.

“I am thrilled to be awarded a residency with the CSO,” said Gosfield. “One of my great joys as a composer is to work closely with musicians. This is a great opportunity to get to know this excellent orchestra as well as their new conductor and music director Maestro Milanov and be part of CHQ's collaborative spirit.”

“These new Music Alive residencies provide communities across the country with invaluable opportunities to hear the music of our time while connecting in-person with these talented composers,” said League president and CEO Jesse Rosen. “Supporting orchestras in their commitment to perform the works of living American composers has always been an institutional priority for the League, with programs such as Ford Made in America and the ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming historically playing an important role at the organization.”

“Through the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and our other funders, we are delighted to be continuing our support of collaborations between composers and orchestras,” said Ed Harsh, president and CEO of New Music USA. “Through Music Alive and in many other ways, New Music USA supports the dynamic, sustained relationships between individual creative artists and orchestras that are essential to a healthy musical ecology.”


The other composer-orchestra partnerships are:

  • Clarice Assad and Boston Landmarks Orchestra         
  • Douglas Cuomo and Grant Park Music Festival (Chicago)
  • Takuma Itoh and Tucson Symphony Orchestra          
  • Jingjing Luo and Princeton Symphony Orchestra (New Jersey)
  • Missy Mazzoli and Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra   
  • Rick Robinson and River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (Houston)
  • Carl Schimmel and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (New Orleans)           
  • Laura Schwendinger and Richmond Symphony Orchestra (Virginia)
  • Derrick Spiva and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra    
  • Sumi Tonooka and South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (Sioux Falls)
  • Dan Visconti and Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (Little Rock)

Hailed as "A star of the Downtown scene" by The New Yorker, Annie Gosfield has been awarded fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin (2012), the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2008), New York Foundation for the Arts, the Siemens Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. She has received grants from New Music USA, The Map Fund, USArtists International, Meet the Composer and many others. Active as a writer and teacher, she is a regular contributor to the New York Times series "The Score," and was the Milhaud Professor of composition at Mills College, a visiting lecturer at Princeton University and a visiting artist at Cal Arts. Dedicated to working closely with performers, Gosfield has collaborated with many musicians and ensembles, such as Joan Jeanrenaud, Lisa Moore, Stephen Gosling, Felix Fan, Frances-Marie Uitti, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, MIVOS Quartet, Flux Quartet, Athelas Sinfonietta, Agon Orchestra, Present Music, Spit Orchestra, West Australia Symphony Orch., So Percussion, and Talujon Percussion. She has performed with John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Fred Frith, and many others. Her work has been performed internationally at festivals including MaerzMusik, The Bang on a Can Marathon, Warsaw Autumn, The Venice Biennale, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, ISCM Music Days, River to River (NYC), and Otherminds. Her discography includes four portrait CD’s on the Tzadik label.

Additional composer bios can be found here.

Now in its 14th year, Music Alive supports composer residencies in the concert halls and communities of orchestras throughout the country by providing funding, administrative support, and resources for both short and multi-year orchestra-composer collaborations. In addition to the new Music Alive: New Partnerships program, Music Alive also currently supports a three-year residency program for five composers and orchestras, most recently announced in 2013. Since 1999, there have been 127 Music Alive orchestral residencies; that number includes 78 individual orchestras and 110 individual composers (several orchestras and composers have participated multiple times). Music Alive programs help orchestras increase new music opportunities for audiences, artists, and administrators; identify model practices for sustained partnerships between artists and communities; help orchestras fully and comprehensively achieve their missions; and enrich orchestral repertoire with fresh and inventive music of our time.

More information on Music Alive is available here.

Funding for Music Alive is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, and The Amphion Foundation.


The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1929 and today continues its legacy as the center of musical life at Chautauqua Institution. Performing 20 concerts in the Amphitheater including two concerts accompanying Chautauqua Dance, and two productions in collaboration with Chautauqua Opera, the CSO is a tenured union orchestra that draws its membership from around the nation and around the world. It has grown from its original complement of 52 musicians to the current roster of 74 active members.

The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of approximately 800 orchestras across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned symphonies to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement for managers, musicians, volunteers, and boards. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform music lovers around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit

New Music USA is devoted to fostering the creation, dissemination, and enjoyment of new American music. New Music USA places special emphasis on broadening the public community for the music and musicians whom we serve. Advocacy in the broadest sense is at the heart of all of New Music USA’s work. It is inherent in the work of the online magazine NewMusicBox and radio station Counterstream, in all of New Music USA’s grantmaking activity — which distributes more than $1 million each year to the field—and in New Music USA’s role as a key voice in the national and international scenes.

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CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce its 2015 season, opening Thursday, July 2, with the debut of new music director Maestro Rossen Milanov, and concluding Tuesday, Aug. 25. All performances take place in the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater.

0714 PresidentsMedal web

Left to right: Colin G. Campbell, James A. Pardo Jr.

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — July 17, 2014 — Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce Colin G. Campbell, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, as the 29th recipient of the Chautauqua President's Medal.

James A. Pardo Jr., chairman of the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees, presented the medal in a ceremony prior to Campbell's lecture at 10:45 a.m. Monday, July 14, in the Institution's historic Amphitheater. Campbell's presentation keynoted a week of CHQ programming titled "Emerging Citizenship: The Egyptian Experience," produced in partnership with Colonial Williamsburg.

"Colin Campbell always had an inkling to serve the public good," said Pardo, who substituted as presenter in Chautauqua Institution President Thomas M. Becker's absence. "And so today, we take this opportunity to honor his body of work, the depth of commitment he has given each of the institutions he has served, the example he has given of authentic, ethical, wise leadership, and the compelling narrative that has driven him through his adult life — that of an ongoing educations of the civics framing our governance, and the virtuous engagement with the democratic process — that gives it its reality."

In January Campbell announced plans to retire after 14 years leading Colonial Williamsburg through the tourism and economic challenges that followed both 9/11 and the great recession of 2009. The former president of Wesleyan University for 18 years and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for 12 years, Campbell was elected to Colonial Williamsburg’s Board of Trustees in 1989 and served as its chairman for a decade beginning in 1998.

"Colonial Williamsburg and Chautauqua Institution, as I have said to Tom Becker more than once, swim in the same intellectual waters," Campbell said upon receiving the medal. "We share the same values, so essential to sustaining citizenship and democracy in this country and beyond."

The partnership between Chautauqua Institution and Colonial Williamsburg began in 2006, with Campbell's first visit to CHQ to deliver an address on citizenship. In 2009, CHQ hosted a full week of co-sponsored programs on "The History of Liberty." The organizations are now in the midst of a multi-year "Emerging Citizenship" series, with programs in both Williamsburg and CHQ exploring the role of the citizen in 21st-century democracies, rising and long established.

"It has been an absolute privilege to be involved in the partnership," Campbell said. "It's one that I hope and believe will be sustained past my retirement this year, because it means so much to our institution, and we value more highly than I can say the extraordinary relationship we have with this community."

In his remarks citing Campbell's accomplishments, Pardo noted the challenges of providing innovative leadership at an institution deeply rooted in history.

"Programming under (Campbell's) watch has expanded to address the African American experience, support public school teachers, creatively invest architectural and culinary traditions and examine many other facets of the American experience, in fresh ways," Pardo said. "These innovations have kept Colonial Williamsburg attractive, relevant, and a force in American dialogue about freedom, equality, civil rights, and the true meaning of citizenship."

The President's Medal originated in 1974 as the Centennial Medal, marking Chautauqua Institution's 100th anniversary. H. Richard Duhme, first head of the School for Sculptors in CHQ, designed the piece with one side picturing a series of images representing religion, arts and crafts, music and drama, education, nature and recreation. The reverse side focused on a framed Miller Bell Tower beneath which the dates 1874 to 1974 were printed. Once renamed the President's Medal, this side of the piece was revised to reflect a more open-themed time frame.

The medal has been awarded sparingly to honor those who have reflected the Institution’s spirit and purpose and who give back to CHQ through their energies and resources. Recent honorees include Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, biologist E.O. Wilson and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation preserves, restores and operates Virginia’s 18th-century capital of Williamsburg as a 21st-century center for history and citizenship. Innovative and interactive experiences, such as the street theatre Revolutionary City® and the RevQuest: Save the Revolution!TM series of technology-assisted alternate reality games, highlight the relevance of the American Revolution to contemporary life and the importance of an informed, active citizenry. The Colonial Williamsburg experience includes more than 400 restored or reconstructed original buildings, renowned museums of decorative arts and folk art, extensive educational outreach programs for students and teachers, lodging, culinary options from historic taverns to casual or elegant dining, the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club featuring 45 holes designed by Robert Trent Jones and his son Rees Jones, a full-service spa and fitness center, pools, retail stores and gardens. Philanthropic support and revenue from admissions, products and hospitality operations sustain Colonial Williamsburg’s educational programs and preservation initiatives.

The pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution is a 140-year-old community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 people visit CHQ and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages — all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village.