News & Announcements

Piano Program is Focus of New Endowment

Clarkson DonorGeorge Heintzelman and Margaret Clarkson have endowed the position of Artistic Advisor and Artist-in-Residence in Chautauqua’s Piano Program, currently held by Alexander Gavrylyuk. Gavrylyuk’s position has been named the Heintzelman Family Artistic Advisor of the School of Music Piano Program, as he continues to work closely with co-chairs of the program, Nicola (Nikki) Melville and John Milbauer. The Heintzelman family’s gift is also supporting an extension of the program from five to six weeks beginning in 2019.

George Heintzelman has been coming to Chautauqua on a nearly annual basis since the summer of 1982. “I remember my parents and my two sisters came for a week when I was 12,” he said, “and we often stayed with our grandparents here.” In 2010, Heintzelman and Clarkson, who live on Long Island, bought a house on Warren Avenue, and George’s parents, his two sisters, and their children began coming together as a family for two weeks each summer. 

Margaret Clarkson said she “married into Chautauqua,” and though she started out in a career in curriculum management for technical sales, she later learned to play piano and was involved in teaching music to children under the age of five and their families. At Chautauqua, Margaret is an enthusiastic member of the CLSC’s Class of 2016.

George’s mother, Jane Heintzelman, is a professional piano teacher, and through many years she has always looked forward to participating in the piano master classes and attending performances at Sherwood-Marsh Studios, where the Piano Program is headquartered. In 2012, when the program was in transition and was shortened to five weeks during the season, the Heintzelmans shifted their regular two weeks on the grounds to include Week Five whenever possible, but the family missed many performances. They were worried at first about the future prospects for piano at Chautauqua.

“There was room for the Institution at this juncture to take a step back in its support of piano, but my mother saw that Chautauqua was still committed to the highest possible quality in piano instruction. We saw the caliber of people who came in for the competitions,” George Heintzelman said. “It seemed like a good time to invest in piano at Chautauqua, so we talked to the Foundation about where and what would be the best way to help.” Their gift was made in honor of Jane’s birthday.

Remarkably the family has not yet had a chance to meet the electrifying Alexander “Sasha” Gavrylyuk, and they have only seen one of his early performances in the Amphitheater, but they have wholeheartedly supported his new endowed position and the re-expansion of the Piano Program. 

“We are so appreciative of this generous commitment from George and Margaret,” President Michael E. Hill said. “They have come forward at an opportune moment as the Piano Program has developed a fresh momentum and is reaching ever-higher standards. This infusion of resources is an affirmation of the incredible collaborative team that is now working with our exceptional students from around the globe.”

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