News & Announcements

Stuart Chafetz Named Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra's First-ever Principal Pops Conductor

Chautauqua Institution today announced the appointment of Stuart Chafetz as its first-ever principal pops conductor of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Chafetz, the CSO's longtime principal timpanist, has served for more than a decade in a guest pops conductor capacity for the ensemble, including leading the popular annual Independence Day Celebration.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize Stu’s many gifts as a musician and his brilliant contributions to the Chautauqua program and community by naming him to this newly created role,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, Chautauqua Institution vice president of performing and visual arts. “Having worked with Stu since our days with the Louisville Orchestra, I have always appreciated his engaging and welcoming presence on the podium. CSO Music Director Rossen Milanov and I look forward to continuing to work with Stu to help instill fun as integral to the experience for all generations of orchestra concertgoers.”

» Stuart Chafetz speaks with Deborah Sunya Moore about his exciting new role on the latest episode of Chautauqua's podcast, CHQ&A:

A well-known and cherished presence on the Chautauqua Institution grounds each summer, Chafetz has served as principal timpanist for the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for 22 seasons. Since 2002, he has made annual appearances on the podium for the ensemble’s Independence Day Celebration and the late-season collaboration with the Chautauqua Opera Company’s Young Artists, in each performance highlighting and showcasing the talent of the next generation of professional musicians. Chafetz also served as the conductor for the CSO’s 2019 live performance of John Williams’ score during a presentation of “Star Wars: A New Hope,” and has joined the planning for the next concert pairing film with live orchestra.

Chafetz is also responsible for introducing what has become a proud Chautauqua Fourth of July tradition, where the audience, using thousands of inflated paper bags, provides the cannon blasts at the end of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”

“Chautauqua has been so integral to my development as an artist and conductor, and is so dear to me as a summer home and community. I’m beyond thankful and excited for this opportunity to serve as the CSO’s first principal pops conductor,” Chafetz said. “It has been an incredible honor to engage and create memories each summer with such an affirming community of music lovers. I’m delighted to further strengthen and deepen my commitment to this amazing place.”

Chafetz also serves as principal pops conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and is newly appointed as the principal pops conductor of the Marin Symphony. A conductor celebrated for his dynamic and engaging podium presence, he is increasingly in demand with orchestras across the continent; this season, he will be on the podium in Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, Naples, Philadelphia (Philly Pops), Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Phoenix.

Chafetz previously held posts as resident conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and associate conductor of the Louisville Orchestra. As principal timpanist of the Honolulu Symphony for 20 years, he would also conduct the annual Nutcracker performances with Ballet Hawaii and principals from the American Ballet Theatre. He has also led numerous concerts with the Maui Symphony and Pops, and numerous Spring Ballet performances at the world-renowned Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. 

Chafetz makes his home near San Francisco with his wife Ann Krinitsky, who is also a conductor and serves as director of the Marin Symphony Youth Performance programs. Chafetz holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music.