Chautauqua Institution is a summer community located in southwestern New York State on Chautauqua Lake. Chautauqua specializes in the arts, education, religion and recreation and hosts over 2,200 events and 100,000 guests each summer.

Chautauqua is dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life through a program that explores the important religious, social and political issues of our times; stimulates provocative, thoughtful involvement of individuals and families in creative response to such issues; and promotes excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts.

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onthegroundsThe “On the Grounds” section of the Chautauqua Institution website is designed to keep community members informed on the status of Institution projects, major initiatives considered by the Board of Trustees and environmental issues. Also provided is a menu of resources for property owners, including Institution rules and regulations, Architectural Review Board information, Institution staff contact information and FAQ.

“On the Grounds” will continue to provide updates throughout the off-season.


Chautauqua is committed to practicing responsible environmental stewardship and sustainability in the management of its property and as a member of the broader Chautauqua Lake Watershed community.

Current stewardship practices include recycling, composting, tree management and planting, purchase of electric trams and bio-diesel buses, Green Design standards and rewards, an energy efficiency audit and upgrades to Institution facilities, wildlife habitat preservation, and use of recycled and recyclable products.

In 2003 Chautauqua Lake was listed by New York State as “impaired waters” under the requirements of the U.S. Clean Water Act. Nutrients are the principal cause of the impairment. Storm water delivers nutrients into the lake either as phosphorus or as nitrogen contained within the chemistry of the storm water or as attachments to sediment that flows along with the storm water.

Chautauqua Institution is in a unique position to control our community’s impact on the lake. The Institution controls 100 percent of the stormwater runoff from its land without having to manage water problems presented by others.

Chautauqua Lake is critical to a strong sense of place and community for those at Chautauqua Institution and lake residents, but human impact is taking its toll.

Chautauqua Institution is committed to alleviating the stressors that are impacting Chautauqua Lake. With careful planning and dedication we are striving to minimize our impact on this beloved and important resource. Ours is a long-term commitment to improving the water quality of the lake and the natural environment in which we live.

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Current Actions

  • Chautauqua Institution is currently implementing significant efforts to alleviate
  • pressure on the lake. These include:
  • Implementing a comprehensive and detailed Drainage Management Plan to reduce the amount of storm water runoff and nutrients entering the lake
  • Restoring a healthy shoreline through our Sustainable Shoreline Action Plan
  • Composting
  • Updating the Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • Improving codes and regulations to minimize runoff
  • Strengthening links to community environmental stewards
  • Planning for the future

View symphony concerts and events  View chamber music concerts

Our Mission

The mission of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra is to enrich the lives of our audience within and beyond the Institution’s gates through the power of symphonic music.

We seek to serve the purposes of the Institution by inspiring, educating and engaging a diverse and growing audience; by serving as an integral part of the Chautauqua community; by exemplifying artistic excellence in presenting programs that celebrate both tradition and innovation; and by demonstrating sound financial stewardship.

School of Dance
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The Chautauqua Ballet program, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, is well known for the unique opportunity it affords students to study with master teachers within a small studio environment.
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School of Art
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The School of Art presents the opportunity for the kind of sustained and focused study in studio art not available in academic settings.
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Internationally known actors, directors, designers and writers join nineteen emerging artists drawn from the nation’s top training programs to form a unique company that produces a vibrant summer of work in the historic Bratton Theater.
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Each summer we enroll 80 of the most promising young instrumentalists from here and abroad to join us for an exciting summer of music making.
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The program offers an exceptional and exciting mixture of traditional and innovative classes, concerts and an artist certificate program.
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The Chautauqua Institution Voice Department is a seven-week intensive educational program that seeks to offer the highest caliber of training for the young singer, 18 and older.
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Schools Alumni

Our arts alumni are currently living, performing, and teaching all over the world. We look forward to learning more about you and where you are headed in your life and career.
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Special Studies
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Special Studies offers subjects ranging from child and youth development, music, education, religion and philosophy, to fitness, health, and personal and professional development.
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June 25 - August 12, 2016


The Chautauqua Institution Voice Department is a seven-week intensive educational program that seeks to offer the highest caliber of training for the young singer, 18 and older. Under the leadership of Marlena Kleinman Malas, a select group of singers study, coach and perform in an idyllic setting on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution in western New York State. Voice lessons, role preparation, diction classes and vocal coachings are guided by a full-time staff of voice teachers, coaches and a resident stage director, along with numerous guest artists.

At the start of the summer we will gather in McKnight Hall for the annual sing-in. Each singer presents one aria or song. Choose something you feel best showcases your voice. At the end of the summer, we will have the sing-out where students typically perform whatever they like. Pieces have included arias, songs, music theater, ensembles, comedy or sentimental favorites.

We perform two operas each summer. The first opera will be multi-cast and performed in 250-seat Fletcher Music Hall with reduced instrumental ensemble and piano, full costumes, props and lighting. The second opera will be performed in the 4,000-seat Chautauqua Amphitheater with the Music School Festival Orchestra, full staging, costumes and props. The opera's presented in 2015 were "Ariodante" and "La Boheme".

"Chautauqua is a unique program that allows the most promising voice students to work daily with some of the most influential voice faculty in the world, all in a nurturing environment that allows for intense improvement in all aspects of singing. That combined with the beautiful location, and close knit community makes for an experience that can not be rivaled"

Christopher Tiesi, Curtis Institute of Music

gavrylyuk masterclass

The Piano Program

June 25 - July 31, 2016



Chautauqua Piano 2016 will be a dynamic, 5-week program for 22 young pianists, ages 18-28. Combining a kaleidoscopic array of resident and guest faculty with unmatched practice and performance facilities, the program is designed for pianists who are seeking to make the transition from student to professional. Unlike programs in which pianists are assigned a single teacher for the duration, Chautauqua aims to develop independence of artistry with an engaging and stimulating variety of experiences and influences. Whether your aim for summer study is to learn repertoire, prepare for an audition or recital, hone your competition skills, gain technical facility, interact with peers and teachers to gain new ways of exploring music, or simply to enact change, Co-Directors Nicola Melville and John Milbauer invite you to consider the many possibilities that Chautauqua Piano affords.

The resident faculty provide a weekly foundation of a unified but open approach to music making. In addition to private lessons, the faculty will lead performance classes that explore topics ranging from the specific (the relationship between physical breath and phrasing; different approaches to the use of weight in piano sound) to more general concepts (finding your unique voice as a performer; creating performance opportunities, the benefits of interdisciplinarity, developing a professional niche in the music world).

Chautauqua Piano is unique in the world of summer piano programs also due to our tremendous guest faculty who visit throughout the summer for residencies ranging from three days to one week during which they perform, give public master classes, and interact with students in private Q&A sessions; many guests will teach private lessons, as well. Guest faculty represent a broad range of backgrounds, pedagogical approaches, and repertoire, and demonstrate both traditional and innovative ways of being successful as a pianist today. Not all participants will have private lessons with every guest, though opportunities are distributed equitably and there is an emphasis on the importance of both individual and group learning.

Chautauqua Piano is an integral part of a larger Institution that provides evening symphony, dance, opera, and pops concerts in the 4000-seat open-air Amphitheater; daily themed lectures by world-renowned speakers; a professional theater company and a theater conservatory; schools of art and dance; multiple galleries, and countless other offerings. Students are offered free tickets to most events, and are encouraged by our piano department calendar to explore the wider artistic and intellectual world of the Chautauqua Institution.

Finally, a significant component of students' experience at Chautauqua is the wonderfully warm and supportive community. Public classes and competitions are often very well attended and provide the opportunity for students to develop skills in audience interaction and audience building. Students in past summers have developed deep friendships with the general public and each other that have continued long after our program ends.


"In my view, the Chautauqua Institution has a magical atmosphere of musical inspiration, dedication and love for music making. All these and more aspects make the piano program in Chautauqua a unique opportunity for many young pianists. I found myself strongly impressed by the high level of piano performance by the students and the remarkable teaching approaches in Chautauqua Institution."

Alexander Gavrylyuk


"The Chautauqua Piano Program is an outstanding institution. The curriculum is rigorous yet intensely supportive and nurturing. A wonderful feeling of community and inclusion pervades all aspects of Chautauqua life, with great and frequent interaction between the faculty and students. The beautiful surroundings and a myriad of non-musical activities inspire and encourage all. For a serious piano student, there is no better way to spend a summer!"

Jon Nakamatsu

The Chautauqua Ballet program, under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, is well known for the unique opportunity it affords students to study with master teachers within a small studio environment. The faculty at Chautauqua will often help place students into major companies throughout the U.S. through their many contacts. An important part of the program is the possibility for young dancers to perform (with live music) in the 4,000-seat Amphitheater.

The School of Dance facilities include four large teaching and rehearsal studios — the Carnahan-Jackson Studios. The dancers are housed in a well-supervised dormitory which is adjacent to the studios. The summer of 2009 saw the completion of new buildings which house the costume shop as well as faculty/staff housing. The center core of the Carnahan-Jackson Studios has been reconfigured to provide for enhanced administrative and production offices as well as proper locker rooms for both professional and student dancers.

The ballet curriculum at Chautauqua is designed for talented students who wish to pursue careers as professional ballet dancers. Intensive training in classical ballet will be continued in rehearsals leading to performances. All classes feature live music. In spite of a rigorous schedule of classes and rehearsals, students will have ample time to enjoy recreational activities at Chautauqua including symphony concerts, professional ballet company performances, Friday Night specials and any number of recitals and lectures at no extra cost.


Chautauqua Connections
Audition & Application Information

June 27—August 15, 2015Applications Due: April 15, 2015

From the Artistic Director

Artists need other serious artists if they are going to exceed their individual possibilities. For almost every artist, conviction without meaningful dialogue has critical limitations. That genuine exchange among serious artists is precisely what I have aimed for in developing the Chautauqua School of Art over the past 29 summers. Everything about the structure of the program—the faculty invited to participate, the students selected, even the layout of the studios—is geared toward that end.

Describing an underlying sensibility held by a diverse group of students and faculty is difficult. However, there are common threads in terms of the artists, young and old, who have associated themselves with this program. One unifying characteristic is a belief in stepping outside the confining box of what one already knows.

Consistently the artists here have had faith in both tradition and in discovery. At the same time, they have believed that tradition for its own sake, as well as novelty for its own sake, are hollow – each devoid of meaning without the other. Matisse once wrote that “When an artist doesn’t know how to prepare for the time of flowering, by work which bears little resemblance to the final result, he has a short future.”

Matisse also said that “When an artist who has arrived fails to get back to the soil from time to time, he begins to go around in circles, repeating, until by this very repetition, curiosity is extinguished.” These two notions form the core of what the artists at the Chautauqua School of Art attempt to bring together during two intensive months every summer.

The School of Art offers serious young artists a chance to give themselves over to a sustained period of exploration. The emphasis is on a period of study in depth with a limited number of selected instructors and a close-knit group of students. Repeatedly students have commented that one thing they realize during the summer is that it takes several weeks of intense involvement for the work, the ideas and the experience to ferment, and by the second half of the summer things really begin to come together. For this reason, the program does not compromise the length of the session, nor does it permit part-time study.

The studio program is enhanced by a variety of outstanding visiting artists who contribute to the overall experience, and students may sign up for critiques with any of the 20 or more full-time faculty and visiting artists who participate in the program during the course of the summer. However, beyond critiques, the focus is on concentrated study with the resident faculty. “I learned more about art and myself in two months here than in two years in college,” is a statement heard repeatedly at the end of the summer. This is because the concerns here are different – the emphasis is on continuity of experience and rigorous exploration and study in the students’ major areas, where they are usually working from 9 a.m. until midnight. Students and faculty live on the grounds of the Institution. They get to know one another well. They eat together, work together in the studios every day, talk with one another about their work whenever they’re out of the studios – there is a communal nature to the collaborative dialogue that develops – a sense of common struggle and shared experience.

The faculty at Chautauqua, though often nationally recognized and always highly respected, is selected, before anything else, because of their deep-rooted conviction that art is a lifelong process of education—a rigorous grounding combined with persevering exploration. It is this conviction that provides art students with a genuine educational experience in the midst of an extremely complex art world—an experience that, while not alienating students from that world, allows for the kind of commitment, awareness and authenticity to also see beyond it. In the end, students often find a connection, support one another on a deep level, and collectively exceed their individual possibilities.

Artistic Director

Advisory Council to the Artistic Director

Advisory Council to the Artistic Director

June 25 - August 16, 2016

The MSFO is a major component of the curriculum and attracts musicians from leading music programs across the United States and around the world. Timothy Muffitt, music director and conductor of the Baton Rouge Symphony and the Lansing Symphony, is the principal conductor for the six-concert series by the MSFO.

tim m 2013Each summer we enroll 80 of the most promising young instrumentalists from here and abroad to join us for an exciting summer of music making. Our students are typically 18 to 28 and enrolled in (or recently graduated from) undergraduate or graduate studies. On occasion, we do admit a high school student who is advanced enough and ready to undertake seven weeks of intensive study. There are no auditions for seating, all sections are rotated for each concert.

We consider orchestral, private lessons and chamber music each to be vital components of the instrumental program and our schedule illustrates this. The orchestra rehearses daily for the majority of the seven weeks and performs its concerts in Chautauqua’s 4,000-seat Amphitheater. Each instrumentalist receives six private lessons with a member of the faculty and is scheduled for a minimum of 12 hours of reserved practice time each week. There are 2 distinct phases of chamber music for every student to participate in. Most students are engaged by an integrated three-phase mock audition component comprising of: psychology, performance and debriefing providing priceless insight into the professional road ahead. String players should note that for much of the seven weeks there is usually a luthier on hand to assist with repairs as necessary.

"Chautauqua was such a wonderful, fun, and intense summer. The MSFO is a training ground for what to expect if you're pursuing music as a profession. The teachers are amazing, and the experience is one I will never forget"

Kathryn Bradley, double bass | Peabody Conservatory of Music

“There is no place like Chautauqua on earth. Nowhere else does one get the opportunity to interact and collaborate with outstanding musicians, ballet dancers, singers, artists and actors.”

Ben Buergel | Michigan State University

The Music School Festival Orchestra is underwritten by the Hultquist Foundation of Jamestown, NY 

MSFO Concert Attire
Men: A black suit or tuxedo, white shirt, black bow tie and all black shoes.
Women: Black skirt/dress from floor length to within 2" of ankles and appearing long when sitting OR black full-length dressy-style pants of formal fabrics (no tight clothing, no casual fabrics such as denim) White long-sleeved or short-sleeved blouse (sleeveless blouses are NOT acceptable), Dressy all-black shoes


In 2016, the concerts are scheduled for
July 5, July 11, July 18, July 25, August 8 and August 15.


The literary arts are represented at Chautauqua by a variety of programs.

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle presents weekly roundtable lectures by distinguished, nationally known authors; book reviews and discussion sessions programmed by the CLSC and the CLSC Alumni Association; and a Young Readers program.

The Chautauqua Writers’ Center coordinates workshops, free weekly readings, lectures by its writers-in-residence, a yearly pre-season Writers’ Festival, and the Chautauqua literary journal. Books featured in these programs, in addition to books by the Writers’ Center faculty, are always available at Chautauqua’s Smith Memorial Library, and the Chautauqua Bookstore.

Special literary events are featured in the Amphitheater and other Chautauqua locations throughout the season.



Reading together since 1878, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle has remained a leader in adult education through quality programming.

Each summer, the CLSC chooses nine books of literary quality and invites the authors to Chautauqua present their work to an audience of approximately 1,000 readers.

> Read more…


clsc logo

Reading together since 1878, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle has remained a leader in adult education through quality programming.

Each summer, the CLSC chooses nine books of literary quality and invites the authors to Chautauqua present their work to an audience of approximately 1,000 readers.

- See more at:


The Chautauqua Writers' Center is a lively community of writers at all levels of development who cultivate the courage, craft and vision necessary to grow as artists under the tutelage of nationally recognized authors. Started in 1987, the original core program of eighteen summer workshops, readings and lectures has grown to include the Chautauqua Writers' Festival, the Chautauqua Literary Journal, and an active support organization, Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends.

Whether you are an accomplished writer looking for peer support, a novice striving to take your work to the next level, or simply an avid reader in love with all things literary, we welcome you and hope to see you at one of our many programs.

Writers' Center Programs at-a-glance

  • Readings on the Porch — Each Sunday from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., the week's poet and prose writers-in-residence read from their own work on the porch of Alumni Hall. (free)

  • Brown-bag Lectures — Each Tuesday and Friday from 12:15 – 1:15 p.m., the week’s poet and prose writers-in-residence (respectively) offer a public lecture on the porch of Alumni Hall. Bring your lunch! (free)

  • Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends — $30 annual membership in this literary arts support group includes a copy of the journal Chautauqua, membership in the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) and perks such as social events. Literary Arts Friends programs include, amongst others, the Chautauqua Poetry Contest and Hauser Prize.

Summer Workshops

Each workshop is taught by an experienced, published author (writer-in-residence) in a small group setting. Most classes are limited to just 12 participants. All workshops are held on the second floor of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. (Located on the south end of the grounds on Wythe Ave. across from the Hall of Philosophy.)

For specific questions regarding workshops, please contact Clara Silverstein.

Registration begins in April. Call the ticket ofice at 716.357.6250 to register by phone or register online at You may also register at one of our ticketing windows at our Main Gate Welcome Center.

Weekly prose and poetry workshops have been the core of the Chautauqua Writers' Center for 24 years. Faculty members are selected not only for their national reputations and the quality of their work, but also for their ability to inspire developing writers to grow in their craft.

Reading together since 1878, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle has remained a leader in adult education through quality programming.

Each summer, the CLSC chooses nine books of literary quality and invites the authors to Chautauqua present their work to an audience of approximately 1,000 readers.

Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle Vertical Theme 2015

Books chosen as Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selections in 2015 will celebrate the theme of “truth and consequences.” In most cases, the book will complement the theme of its corresponding week. In all selections, exceptional writing will define the authors honored by the CLSC.

 Author programs are held Thursdays at 3:30 in the Hall of Philosophy unless otherwise noted.

2014 CLSC Selections

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Week One
Roger Rosenblatt
The Boy Dectective

Chautauqua’s programs for youth present a diversity of activity, in settings varied and historic. From pre-school to day camp, from sports instruction to informal youth centers, from enrichment classes to entertainment, and from reading to experiences in the arts, these programs offer opportunities to explore the Chautauqua experience. At the same time, youth are encouraged to grow in independence, make choices, take responsibility and celebrate family time, all in the safe and supportive community that is Chautauqua.

Chautauqua provides a wide variety of services of worship and programs that express the Institution's Christian heritage as well as its interfaith commitment. The Institution, originally the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, was founded as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning for Sunday School teachers. While founders Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent were Methodists, other Protestant denominations participated from the first year onward, and today Chautauqua continues to be ecumenical — as well as interfaith — in spirit and practice.

October 27, 2015
The Department of Religion is co-sponsoring with Nazareth College a "Mini-Chautauqua in Rochester" program from 1:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the Otto Shults Community Center Forum on the Nazareth campus. The program is titled "On a Planet in Peril and Our Moral Responsibility." Click here for more details, a list of presenters and how to participate.


Through a unique mix of professional and pre-professional programs, Chautauqua celebrates, encourages and studies the fine and performing arts in a community where artists and audiences live together as one.

Click on the titles below to view upcoming events.


Chautauqua Opera's Mission Statement

TO PRODUCE opera/music theatre of the highest quality as part of the artistic and cultural diversity that is represented at the Chautauqua Institution.

TO BUILD tomorrow's audience for opera and music theatre, both regionally and nationally, through the presentation of productions of the highest quality, using a mix of seasoned professionals and Young Artists in training.

TO NURTURE the development of Young Artists, creative staff and production personnel.

TO REINFORCE the appreciation of the standard repertoire and to broaden interest in American and non-standard works.

Click here for Google Map directions

Chautauqua Opera NYC (Sept.-May)
412 West 42nd Street, Suite 4E4
New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212.779.3177
Fax: 212.779.3293

Chautauqua Opera (June-August)
PO Box Q
Chautauqua, NY 14722
Phone: 716.357.6286
Fax: 716.357.3285

General/Artistic Director, Jay Lesenger:

General Inquiries:

Audition Information:

Director of Administration, Michael Berg:

Company Manager, Gabriel Estin:


Self-improvement through lifelong learning was at the heart of the impulse that motivated Americans and founded Chautauqua in 1874. That tradition continues today through a variety of programs aimed at the exploration and exchange of ideas in an atmosphere that encourages civil discourse.

The morning lecture series is Chautauqua’s signature program, welcoming distinguished scientists, authors, educators and other experts in fields such as arts and humanities, foreign affairs and religion, to engage with Chautauqua audiences on matters that shape our world.

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC), the oldest continuous book club in America, introduced learning by correspondence and has enrolled over a half-million readers.

Today, CLSC books address critical and ethical issues of the day through a variety of genres, with an author presenting a different book each week of the summer season.

The Chautauqua Writers’ Center brings focus to writing as an art form with nationally recognized authors in residence offering workshops, readings and lectures, as well as an annual preseason Writers’ Festival, to writers at all levels of development.

Each season, Chautauqua Institution Archives also presents its Heritage Lecture Series, which combines the research of Archives staff with notable historians and Chautauqua scholars in order to explore the rich history of Chautauqua and its effect on American culture.


Located on the shores of beautiful Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York, Chautauqua offers a variety of recreational opportunities that further enrich the mind, body and spirit and bring together families and the larger community.