milanov headshotChautauqua Institution is pleased to announce the selection of Rossen Milanov as the ninth music director of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. As music director, Milanov will serve as the principal conductor and artistic director of the CSO and as an advocate for the orchestra and the classical arts within and beyond the CHQ community.

The 49-year-old Bulgarian-born conductor will begin his responsibilities immediately in preparation for his inaugural summer of residency in 2015. His public debut will take place at the CSO’s season-opening performance on Thursday, July 2, 2015, and he will conduct 10 concerts in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons. “I am very excited and honored to be collaborating with the musicians of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, to catalyze the artistic growth, introduce new ideas, diversify the programming and connect with all of the CHQ community in a meaningful and inspiring way!” Milanov said.


In September, Milanov was selected as the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s next music director, beginning with the 2015–16 season. He is currently music director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, music director of the professional training orchestra Symphony in C in Camden, New Jersey, and principal conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias in Spain. Milanov previously served as associate conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. At CHQ, he joins a team of exceptional artistic directors who are each dedicated to tradition and innovation in the areas of orchestra, opera, theater, dance and visual arts.

“I am very pleased to welcome Rossen Milanov to the CHQ community, an environment in which his remarkable skills and artistic sensibilities will flourish,” said Thomas M. Becker, president of Chautauqua Institution. “In collaboration with the CSO, Maestro Milanov will engage CHQ audiences of all ages in an enriching relationship with great music and the artistry of gifted musicians.” Milanov’s appointment is the culmination of a search and selection process led by Marty W. Merkley, Chautauqua Institution vice president and director of programming, and Deborah Sunya Moore, associate director of programming.

“Rossen was selected for his clear ability to craft bold programming, foster artistry at the highest level, and connect with our current and future community members in a relevant and meaningful way,” Merkley said. “The Institution is thrilled to welcome Maestro Milanov as a leader who will inspire a trajectory of artistic growth and evolution.”

A formal Music Director Search Committee provided counsel and recommendations to Merkley and Moore during the final phase of the process, evaluating each of the eight finalists in their appearances as guest conductors throughout the 2014 season. The committee — composed of representatives from the CSO, the Institution’s board of trustees and the CHQ community — was aided by surveys completed by CSO musicians and audience members after each performance.

“It was a joy to serve on the committee with three of our amazing CSO musicians,” said Karen Arrison, a Chautauqua Institution trustee and Stradivari Society patron. “Their willingness and ability to rise above what may have been their personal opinions and focus on each candidate with the more global charge assigned to us was impressive. Maestro Milanov fit beautifully into that global charge, demonstrating a clear and exciting vision for the future of our beloved CSO.”

Milanov led the CSO on July 10, 2014, in performances of the overture to Thomas Adès’ 2004 opera The Tempest, Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major, with guest pianist Di Wu. Milanov previously appeared as a guest conductor at CHQ in 2013 and 2011.

The musicians are thrilled to welcome Maestro Milanov into the CHQ family,” said Vahn Armstrong, associate concertmaster of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. “We look forward to beginning an exciting new chapter in the storied history of the CSO, and to expressing the CHQ mission through ever more vibrant, inspiring, and relevant performances of the great symphonic repertoire.”

Milanov has collaborated with some of the world’s pre-­‐‑eminent artists, including Yo-­‐‑Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Midori, Christian Tetzlaff and André Watts, as well as with such internationally esteemed vocalists as Nicolai Ghiaurov, Vesselina Kasarova, Angela Meade, Measha Brueggergosman, Anne Schwanewilms and Krassimira Stoyanova. During his 11-year tenure with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Milanov conducted more than 200 performances, as associate conductor and as artistic director of the orchestra’s summer home at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

A well-known figure in North America, Milanov has appeared with numerous chamber, symphony and festival orchestras. Internationally, he has collaborated with orchestras throughout Europe, Australia, South America and the Far East. He is also noted for his versatility and is a welcome presence in the worlds of opera and ballet.

Milanov studied conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School, where he received the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship. He studied oboe and orchestral conducting at the Bulgarian National Academy of Music, and holds a master'ʹs degree in oboe performance from Duquesne University. As the former chief conductor of the Bulgarian National Radio Orchestra and music director of the New Symphony Orchestra, Sofia, he received the Bulgarian Ministry’s Award for Extraordinary Contribution to Bulgarian Culture. He was named Bulgaria’s Musician of the Year in 2005, among the top 100 most influential people in New Jersey in 2014 and won an ASCAP award in 2011 for his programming with Princeton Symphony Orchestra.

“Rossen Milanov’s understanding of Chautauqua Institution and his clear desire to expand the symphony’s incorporation into the community were particularly impressive,” said Anita Lin, a community member of the Music Director Search Committee and recent appointee to President Barack Obama’s Advisory Committee on the Arts. “The thorough search process revealed Mr. Milanov’s extraordinary passion for serving both as an advocate for the CSO and for the unique role CHQ plays in the American cultural landscape.”

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 pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution 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. Smithsonian magazine named CHQ as the No. 1 “Best Small Town to Visit in 2014” in the cover story of its April 2014 issue.


Click here to visit Rossen Milanov's website and view his schedule of upcoming engagements.

Deborah Sunya Moore
Associate Director of Programming