Piano students introduce themselves with annual Play-In

The Piano Program students are ready for their entrance.

The young pianists will greet one another, their teachers and the public at 2 p.m. Monday in Sherwood-Marsh Studios as part of the annual Play-In.

“It’s a good icebreaker,” said John Milbauer, co-chair of the Chautauqua Piano Program. “At the end of the (Play-In), they’ve all played in once. It gets rid of the nerves and stress of playing for the first time. … The Play-In gives us a chance to see what opportunities there are for positive change. We do that better than any (piano) program I know of.”

The five-week-long Piano Program differs from other School of Music programs in its emphasis on guest master class instructors. The performances help the faculty decide which students would benefit from specific instructors.

“For each (student), there’s 22 different possibilities,” Milbauer said. “(We see) how we can shape this program in a way that would be the most effective and illuminating.” 

Joining Milbauer and his co-chair, Nicola Melville, is pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk. 

Gavrylyuk is no stranger to Chautauqua. He’s been performing with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for 10 years, but is excited about working closely with the students in his new position as artistic adviser and artist-in-residence. 

“It is an honor and privilege for me to lead the piano department in conjunction with John Milbauer and Nicola Melville,” Gavrylyuk said in a fall Institution press release. “During the past 10 years, I grew to love and understand the uniqueness and unparalleled importance of Chautauqua and its philosophy, which is very close to my heart and to my own life view.”

At the Play-In, students have full artistic rein and can choose pieces dating back to the late Renaissance or ones created in the last few years, which is one reason why Milbauer said it’s fun for the public to attend. 

Another main draw for this year’s Play-In is the quality of talent. 

“The depth of the application pool was the strongest I’ve seen,” Milbauer said.

Tags : John Milbauerpiano programplay-inschool of music

The author Rebecca Klar

Rebecca Klar is a recent graduate of Binghamton University with a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in rhetoric. She is excited to be spending her first summer at Chautauqua as a School of Music reporter for The Chautauquan Daily. You can contact her at