News & Announcements

Chautauqua Institution Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Chautauqua Opera Company's 2020 Opera Festival

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Chautauqua Institution has been awarded a $15,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the Chautauqua Opera Company’s 2020 Opera Festival, entitled “The Women’s Suffrage Centennial: Claiming a Voice, Claiming a Vote.”

As part of Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week summer assembly season, Chautauqua Opera Company produces more than 30 operatic events, including three mainstage operas. The company’s 2020 season celebrates the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment with a trio of operas, each of which revolves around a powerful female figure who is fighting to forge her own path and have her voice heard.

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Sony Ton-Aime Named Director of Literary Arts

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Chautauqua Institution today announced the appointment of Sony Ton-Aime to the position of director of literary arts, effective Jan. 13, 2020. A poet, teaching artist and arts administrator, Ton-Aime is currently program operation coordinator for Lake Erie Ink, a Cleveland-based literary arts organization, and worked previously with Chautauqua Literary Arts in 2018 and 2019 at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center and Poetry Makerspace.

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Season's Greetings from Chautauqua

Whatever warms your heart and makes you smile, may you experience it in abundance this holiday season. From all of us at Chautauqua, season's greetings!

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Joshua Stafford Named Interim Chautauqua Institution Organist

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Chautauqua Institution today announced the appointment of Joshua Stafford as its organist for the 2020 summer assembly season. In this interim capacity, Stafford, an internationally renowned and award-winning organist and native of neighboring Jamestown, will succeed his mentor and teacher, the late Jared Jacobsen, as the principal performer on the Institution’s historic Massey Memorial Organ. 

“We are so fortunate to have someone of Josh’s talent and stature ready to step into this vital position, already as a member of the Chautauqua family, at a time when our community is healing from Jared’s deeply felt loss,” said the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, vice president of religion and senior pastor.

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Chautauqua Institution to Celebrate Giving Tuesday on December 3 with Special Match Opportunity, Trustee Challenge through December 15

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On Tuesday, Dec. 3, Chautauqua Institution again joins individuals, families and organizations from all 50 states and in countries around the world for Giving Tuesday. This growing, global movement celebrates the collective gifts shared in community with one another. At Chautauqua, these are gifts of artistic expression, lifelong learning, multi-generational experiences and treasured moments that lift up the best of human values.

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Chautauqua Institution Launches 2019 Winter Village at Chautauqua

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Continuing a tradition launched in 2017, Chautauqua Institution will host the annual Winter Village at Chautauqua on two holiday weekends in 2019: Nov. 29–Dec. 1, following Thanksgiving, and Dec. 21–22, just before Christmas. The festivities will highlight on-grounds shopping and dining, and include special events such as wine and food pairing dinners, classes in holiday decoration-making, Breakfast with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, and other seasonal activities.

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

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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.

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Recently Retired Chautauqua Institution Chief of Police Al Akin Lays Wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Alan Akin, who for more than 40 years served as chief of police at Chautauqua Institution until his retirement earlier this month, participated on Sunday, Oct. 20, in the ceremonial wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Akin was selected for this honor by members of the United States Army Field Band, which frequently performs free concerts at Chautauqua, in recognition of his decades of service to the Chautauqua community, ensuring the safety and security of residents, patrons and distinguished guests. Akin laid a wreath in memory of his cousin, Theodore W. Johnson, of Westfield, a U.S. Air Force first lieutenant who was killed in action in Vietnam.

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Chautauqua Arts Education Receives Kennedy Center Contract for School Residencies Program

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has awarded a contract to Chautauqua Arts Education to continue Chautauqua Institution’s school residencies program, providing nearly $18,000 in support of the Institution’s work in Chautauqua County for students with disabilities.

These programs began in 2014, providing residencies at area BOCES Educational Centers, and have grown to provide eight residencies in 2019–20, including at LoGuidice, Hewes and Chautauqua Lake BOCES educational centers, Chautauqua Lake Central School, Southwestern Central School District, Love Elementary and Washington Middle schools in the Jamestown Public Schools, and Little Seeds Pre-School in Jamestown.

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Four Join Board of Trustees; New Leadership Assumes Office

Chautauqua Institution’s Board of Trustees elected Izumi Hara, Terrance N. Horner Jr., Sarah Hagen McWilliams and Richard R. Wade to four-year terms of service at the body’s final meeting of the 2019 season on Aug. 24. The new class officially begins their terms today, Tuesday, Oct. 1, along with newly elected chair Candace (Candy) Littell Maxwell, whose appointment was approved at the board’s May 4 meeting, and Marnette Perry, who was elected as vice chair at the August meeting.

“As I begin my first term as chair, it is an honor to welcome these brilliant new voices to our trustee table, and to build on the remarkable work and devoted service of those colleagues who have come before us,” Maxwell said. “I’m excited to welcome four individuals as accomplished and credentialed as Izumi, Terry, Sarah and Dick to help Chautauqua realize the promise of opportunities outlined in our new strategic plan.”

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Chautauqua Welcomes Fall with October Festival, Oct. 4–5

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Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce it will host a special October Festival on Oct. 4 and 5, 2019, featuring Oktoberfest-inspired events and activities to celebrate the beginning of fall on its picturesque lakeside grounds. Festivities will include German-style food, hay rides, axe throwing and other seasonal activities, and there is no charge for admission or parking. A special package is available at the Athenaeum Hotel for guests who wish to stay the full weekend, through Sunday morning.

The Chautauqua October Festival kicks off on Friday, Oct. 4, with a three-course German-inspired tasting menu at the Athenaeum Hotel. The hotel’s lounge will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight, and entertainment before and after dinner will be provided by The Shotskis, a five-piece ensemble that plays German classics and party songs, from 4 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. Reservations for Friday’s dinner can be made at fall.chq.org.

Then, from 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, the festivities move to Bestor Plaza, Chautauqua’s town square. Alongside German-style food, drinks and adult beverages at the Brick Walk Cafe, a mix of family-friendly and adult-oriented activities will include hay rides, bobbing for apples, a bounce house, pumpkin painting, and axe throwing by AXEWAGON. See fall.chq.org for a full list. Fees apply for food and drinks and for some activities.

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Chautauqua Community Mourns Passing of Jared Jacobsen

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Dear Friends of Chautauqua Institution:

We learned yesterday of the tragic passing of our beloved Jared Jacobsen, Chautauqua’s organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music for nearly 25 years, and someone who proudly proclaimed himself a lifelong Chautauquan. Jared was involved in a car accident in Geneva, Ohio.

While we await formal word of Jared’s wishes, we know our community is grieving this unspeakable loss. Many have described Jared and the music he masterfully created with the iconic Massey Memorial Organ at the Chautauqua Amphitheater as the “heart and soul” of Chautauqua. This sentiment speaks not only to Jared’s talent, but of his ever-presence during our summer assembly season, his untiring love for music, and his generous willingness to share his passions with Chautauquans across generations. His music ushered in each day, heralded the noontime and afternoon hours, and closed each Sunday evening of the summer assembly, keeping the time of a timeless community.

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Three Taps of the Gavel Address: ‘Camp Meeting Commences’

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Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill addressed Chautauquans gathered for the season's final Sacred Song Service with the traditional Three Taps of the Gavel Address to close the 2019 Chautauqua Assembly on Sunday. His remarks as prepared for delivery, with light edits, are provided below. (Photo by Dave Munch, Chautauqua Institution multimedia producer)


“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
—T.S. Eliot

Our organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, Jared Jacobsen, has dubbed this evening “Camp Meeting is Over” and The Chautauquan Daily headline reminded me that my job tonight is to declare that this is so. This final Sacred Song Service each summer season lends itself well to this narrative. The day’s sun has slipped beneath the horizon, hints of autumn can be felt in the air, and our beloved Amphitheater is far too empty. The Saturday crowds have left the grounds and a new group has not come to take up residence on “change over day.” And the likelihood that a gentle bark from one of our furry puppy Chautauquans will puncture the proceedings is far less than it was just a few nights ago.

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Chautauqua Institution Plans Post-Season Programs

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Consistent with aspirations outlined in Chautauqua Institution’s new strategic plan, 150 Forward, officials have announced plans for Fall 2019 programs that expand upon the Institution’s normal fall and winter activities and offerings.

From the close of the summer assembly on Sunday, Aug. 25, through the month of October (potentially as long as Nov. 15, weather permitting), the Athenaeum Hotel will remain open and available for daily, weekly or extended bookings, offering breakfast for overnight guests. The Athenaeum’s Lobby Lounge will also be open noon to 8 p.m. daily, offering club sandwiches, burgers, soup, salad, appetizers and beverages. The Brick Walk Cafe will be open weekends 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the Coffee Gazebo open 7 a.m. to noon. Daily breakfast and lunch service at the Afterwords Café will continue throughout the fall, winter and spring months.

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Atom Atkinson to Step Down as Director of Literary Arts

Chautauqua Literary Arts Director Atom Atkinson has announced their resignation effective Aug. 30 to take on a new professional opportunity at Catapult, a New York City-based literary arts organization with an educational mission.

Atkinson has served as Director of Literary Arts at Chautauqua since 2017. Their focus has been to build on the Institution’s literary legacy by aligning programs and services around Chautauqua’s mission and convening authority, inviting a diverse range of authors and educators and pursuing partnerships to further enliven and elevate the experience of learning through reading and writing for participants of all ages and experience.

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Chautauqua Institution Inaugurates the Leon and Gloria Plevin Family Museum Lecture Series

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Chautauqua Institution this week launches a new endowed lecture series with a presentation by Jill Snyder, Executive Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa Cleveland), at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 28, in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution. This event is free and open to the public. 

The Leon and Gloria Plevin Family Museum Director Lecture Series was established to present the unique personal and professional perspectives of institutional leaders from around the country by examining the innovations, challenges, and changing landscapes of museums today. This new endowment for the visual arts was established in honor of the late Leon Plevin, Gloria Plevin’s husband, who was an advocate and supporter of visual arts, especially at Chautauqua and in Cleveland, where Gloria and her family spent most of their lives.    

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President Michael E. Hill Opens 146th Chautauqua Assembly with ‘Three Taps’ Address

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Following an introduction to Chautauqua Institution’s new strategic plan, 150 Forward, President Michael E. Hill on Sunday morning tapped a historic gavel three times to officially open the Institution’s 146th Assembly. Hill’s “Three Taps” address, marking the traditional and formal start to a Chautauqua season, was titled “Walking the Tightrope Between History and Innovation,” and gave Chautauqua community members gathered a synopsis of the recently approved strategic plan, including a strong rebuke of hatred and bigotry. The remarks preceded the Institution’s popular Sunday worship service, which this particular morning featured a historic twist — for the first time at Chautauqua, the sermon was delivered by a rabbi chaplain in residence, Rabbi Sharon Brous, senior and founding rabbi of IKAR in Los Angeles.

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Chautauqua Theater Company’s 2017 New Play Workshop ‘Birthday Candles’ Goes to Broadway

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Will Star Debra Messing and be Directed by Former CTC Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch

Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC), under the leadership of Artistic Director Andrew Borba and Managing Director Sarah Clare Corporandy, is pleased to announce that its 2017 New Play Workshop Birthday Candles by Noah Haidle will be opening on Broadway in 2019–2020 season. Former CTC artistic director Vivienne Benesch will direct the Broadway premiere at the Roundabout Theatre Company, and the production will star Debra Messing, best known for her lead role in the NBC television series "Will & Grace."

Birthday Candles was originally commissioned by Detroit Public Theater (DPT) in the fall of 2016. In the summer of 2017, it received a workshop production at CTC, directed by Benesch. Benesch followed the production to DPT where it received a world premiere in May 2018. This is the first time DPT and CTC have partnered in this way: from DPT’s commission, to CTC’s workshop performance and back to DPT’s world premiere.

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Anjali Sachdeva's "All the Names They Used for God" Wins 2019 Chautauqua Prize

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Author Will Give Public Reading at Chautauqua Institution on Aug. 16

Chautauqua Institution is delighted to announce Anjali Sachdeva’s All the Names They Used for God: Stories (Spiegel & Grau) as the 2019 winner of The Chautauqua Prize.

As author of the winning book, Sachdeva receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a summer residency at Chautauqua from Aug. 12 to 16, 2019. A public reading will take place at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, in the Hall of Philosophy on the Institution’s grounds. 

Sachdeva said she was “incredibly grateful for all Chautauqua Institution has done to celebrate the arts and their potential to enrich our lives. To me, the Prize represents not only an amazing honor, but key support that will help me to continue writing.” 

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Pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk to Replace Daniil Trifonov for Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra June 27 Concert

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Performance Opens 90th Anniversary Season, 2019 Russian Festival

Chautauqua Institution today announced that celebrated pianist Daniil Trifonov will be unable to join the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for its Opening Night performance on June 27, 2019.

A representative for Trifonov shared the following statement:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Daniil Trifonov is unable to leave Europe as planned to fulfill his commitment to Chautauqua. He withdraws with sadness because he has really looked forward to making music in such a special and beautiful place. He looks forward to a return engagement in the near future.

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