This season, pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk is coming back to Chautauqua Institution for three weeks as an “artistic luminary” in the School of Music, in the words of Deborah Sunya Moore.
This year, Gavrylyuk is once more going to serve as artistic advisor and artist- in-residence for the Piano Program. Gavrylyuk has been coming to Chautauqua as a guest faculty member and as a soloist, but has served as artistic advisor and artist-in-residence since 2017.
“He is a favorite at Chautauqua. People line up to see him. He is just an extraordinary performer,” said Moore, vice president of performing and visual arts.
Not only are Chautauquans happy to see Gavrylyuk coming back, but the joy seems to be reciprocal for Gavrylyuk as well.
“During the last 12 years, I had an incredible chance to become very close with a lot of the people who are regularly visiting Chautauquans, especially the audience members of the Amphitheater,” Gavrylyuk said. “I find that Chautauqua is a very unique place, in so many ways. It’s a place with a very open-minded philosophy of sharing the best reflections of all for artistic human innovation — you know, sharing the best ideas, in terms of growth in society and all sorts of expression of human art.”
John Milbauer, co-chair of the Piano Program said it was an honor to have Gavrylyuk involved in the program.
“There is really no one who plays as he plays — his extraordinary pianism and his extraordinary talent. We are fortunate to have his involvement with the Piano Program,” Milbauer said.
Gavrylyuk said he is making an effort to maximize how piano students at Chautauqua can benefit from his mentorship.
“I’m trying to give as much as possible (to the piano students),” Gavrylyuk said. “I’m trying to connect the students to the sort of international perception of music, which somehow I’m fortunate to have, through working with other musicians regularly on the world stage.”
Moore said she was excited that Gavrylyuk has joined Nicola “Nikki” Melville and Milbauer to be the leadership trio.
“The students also love Nikki and John, but we need one artistic inspiration, as the leader of the program,” Moore said. “And that’s him.”
Moore said she was excited Chautauqua is able to have Gavrylyuk, who has a busy career as an international solo pianist.
“It’s really cool that he agreed to teach for Chautauqua,” Moore said. “Students, for years, have been asking for him to teach but he hasn’t had the time because of his performance career, which is so full and welcoming.”
Now students at Chautauqua get to have private lessons with Gavrylyuk.
“As the artistic advisor, he gives lessons to students that want to study with him, but he also gives public master classes where he coaches students,” Moore said. “Teaching is a fairly new thing for him because he is a solo pianist, … but he’s a wonderful teacher.”
The search for the artistic head of the Piano Program was a big effort for the department, according to Sarah Malinoski- Umberger, Chautauqua Schools of Performing and Visual Arts manager.
“There was a huge extensive search that went on a couple of years to find the artistic head for piano, and Gavrylyuk is just by far, the clear favorite,” Malinoski- Umberger said. “The students love him. He’s been here as a guest faculty member. The students rave about him.”
Gavrylyuk is an artist who performs to connect authentically with his audience and here at Chautauqua, Moore said, this community is always anxious to meet him in the Amphitheater. She said he always brings that authentic connection to his mentoring, as well.
“He is that high-end performer that has absolute artistic excellence, but also, he was really born as a mentor,” Moore said. “That balance between technical ability, artistic inspiration and having a caring heart makes him the perfect artistic advisor as he can inspire students when he comes here to teach in the school for three weeks.