Conducting fellowship receives $250K endowment from Logan Foundation

Ryo Hasegawa, the 2023 David Effron Conducting Fellow, takes a bow with the Music School Festival Orchestra after the MSFO’s final performance of the summer Aug. 7 in the Amphitheater. This summer, the Effron Fellowship received a $250,000 endowment gift from the Logan Foundation. Brett Phelps/Staff Photographer

Zoe Kolenovsky
Staff writer

Building on a legacy of patronage of the arts at Chautauqua, the Kay Hardesty Logan Foundation recently bestowed a $250,000 endowment toward the School of Music’s David Effron Conducting Fellowship.

The fellowship was first established through Logan’s support in 1997 — the first year of Timothy Muffitt’s tenure as Instrumental Program Artistic and Music Director and conductor of the Music School Festival Orchestra.

“It is unique in that we only bring one person into the fellowship,” Muffitt said. “Most conductor training programs have eight to 10 to 20 people and they work in a laboratory setting. … (This fellowship) works as an apprenticeship.”

Muffitt personally trains each year’s fellow, bringing them to all of his rehearsals and guiding them as they lead the MSFO on their own.

“He’s the most open and honest, and the most kind conductor that I’ve ever met. He is such a great mentor to have in this institution,” said Ryo Hasegawa, this year’s fellow. “He always creates a collaborative environment in communication with people, so it was a very valuable experience to study with him this summer.”

Hasegawa conducted three pieces in the Amphitheater this summer, one per show for the MSFO’s second, fourth and final concerts. He also organized many of the student musicians for two bonus performances on Bestor Plaza as a way to give back to the community.

“(All of the students) really made a very intimate connection, and I think that really reflected in our music-making,” said Hasegawa.  “That collaborative element, being together and creating together with these people who we trust, … it’s such a wonderful experience.”

Hasegawa was able to come to Chautauqua fully supported this summer, as the Logan Foundation covers all expenses for the Effron Fellow. 

Institution leadership and community members who have supported the Music School Festival Orchestra over the years raise a glass Aug. 7 on the porch of the Athenaeum Hotel in recognition of the Logan Foundation’s $250,000 gift to support the David Effron Conducting Fellowship. Brett Phelps/Staff Photographer

Kay Logan was a longtime Chautauquan with a passion for musical performance and education. During her lifetime, she gave to many of the arts programs at Chautauqua, including chamber music, the School of Music, the School of Dance and School of Art, with smaller donations often in the form of funding for facility renovations or student scholarships. She established the foundation before her death in 2016 as a means to continue this support on a larger scale, now overseen by close friends and family members.

“I think she realized that the Chautauqua Institution is a unique place for the education of young professionals, and she knew that we had resources here that no other place had,” said Muffitt. “She became a catalyst and a conduit for connecting resources to maximize the power of providing experiences for these young musicians … and she changed this place for the better in ways that will endure.”

Logan was a School of Music student herself in the 1950s and went on to become a celebrated professional flutist. She was highly influential in and among Institution leadership, and is remembered fondly and with great esteem.

“Kay was a dedicated, feisty, funny, loving, truth-telling woman,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, senior vice president and chief program officer. “She saw need, and she never assumed the answer was someone else’s responsibility. She made things happen.”

Marty Merkley, former vice president of programming at the Institution and current president of the Logan Foundation, described Logan as generous and pragmatic. 

“She did almost everything for the Institution that needed to be done,” he said. “Her philanthropic goals were to make things better for the students.”

The foundation now focuses its support on Chautauqua’s chamber music programs and the David Effron Conducting Fellowship. The $250,000 endowment for the fellowship — for which the Logan Foundation was celebrated in a private reception after the MSFO’s final performance of the summer on Aug. 7 — comes after last year’s $1 million gift to the Chautauqua Chamber Music Resident Artist Series and Guest Artist Series.

Kimberly Schuette, manager of artistic administration, is grateful to the foundation for its support of both chamber series. This is her second summer leading the programming for chamber music.

“What makes chamber music at Chautauqua so special is that we have a very devoted and interested audience here,” she said. “It shows the breadth of interest people have in music.”

The Logan Foundation also supports music education outside of Chautauqua, providing funds to programs in Chicago, Brooklyn, Erie, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, among others.

“There’s been an extensive expansion of the foundation since (Kay’s) death,” Merkley said. “We have done visual arts, we have done dance, we have done writing, we have done everything from chamber music, to orchestral, to education for developmentally challenged students.”

Merkley said he hopes that such gifts will shine a light on Kay Logan’s story as a patron of education and the arts.

“As the ancient Egyptians say, you live as long as your name is said, as long as your name is pronounced. So we felt it was important that we have some endowments that had her name on them to recognize her philanthropy over the years and the ongoing support for the programs that she had very strong interest in,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the legacy and her name alive.”

With soloist Mary Elizabeth Bowden on commissioned work from Assad, CSO wraps summer season under Stuart Chafetz’s baton

Screenshot 2023-08-21 at 6.22.41 PM

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

As the season at the Institution comes to a close, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra is ending its summer the way it started: with music. 

The CSO ends its season under the baton of Principal Pops Conductor Stuart Chafetz and features trumpet player Mary Elizabeth Bowden as soloist. The final concert begins at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater. 

Bowden became interested in music when she started playing cornet at 10 years old. Her two brothers played trombone and horn, and eventually all three siblings studied under the same brass teacher. 

“He took us to many soloist and chamber concerts as well, including my favorite trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov,” Bowden said. “Nothing replaces the experience of hearing music performed live, and these many concerts sparked my love and passion for music. I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a professional trumpeter.” 

Now living that dream, Bowden is a Gold Medal Global Music Award Winner, Opus Klassik Nominee and Yamaha Performing Artist. Currently, she is Principal Trumpet of the Artosphere Festival Orchestra and a member of the Iris Orchestra and Richmond Symphony Orchestra. Bowden has released two solo albums with Summit Records: 2015’s Radiance and 2019’s Reverie.

Tonight’s program includes three selections. The season started and will conclude with J.S. Smith/Damrosch’s version of The Star-Spangled Banner. The concert continues with Verdi’s Overture to La Forza del Destino and Clarice Assad’s “Bohemian Queen” Concerto for Trumpet and Strings — commissioned by the Institution and seeing its first Chautauqua performance tonight. The composer herself has performed in the Amp, in 2021 with her father, the lauded Brazilian guitarist Sérgio Assad. 

The CSO’s final selection is Alexander Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances.” 

Last season, Chafetz also conducted the final CSO concert for the summer.

“It was bittersweet because it was such an incredible experience, but also a reminder that all good things must come to an end,” he said. 

“Unfortunately, the summer has flown, and it’s just a sad time, I think, for all of us who have to go back to our off-season gigs,” Chafetz said. “It’s kind of wild, but I also feel very lucky to be able to connect with my colleagues one last time.” 

Chafetz is particularly excited for the Verdi, “one of the greatest overtures” by the composer. Verdi’s opera is a predominantly dark-hued tragedy, with a grim, historical setting intertwined with moments of gaiety and spectacle.

Chafetz described the work as “wonderful, fantastic, meaningful, emotional, powerful overture,” and the “perfect way” to send Chautauquans off for the fall. 

“There’s going to be a lot of fireworks within the orchestra. In both of those pieces, they really highlight the full orchestra really well,” Chafetz said. “And these are two pieces I was able to play with the orchestra when we did them on timpani, so I found them to be really gratifying to play, but also for the audience to really enjoy.” 

Bowden performed last summer at Chautauqua with her brass quintet, Seraph Brass. The group was founded by Bowden with the mission of elevating and showcasing the excellence of female brass players and highlighting musicians from marginalized groups both in personnel and in programming. Historically, the music industry has been dominated by men — and the world of brass music has been no exception. For Bowden, she said the challenge “has meant proving my skill and dedication repeatedly” and that “any hurdles have only fueled my determination, fostering resilience and empowerment.”

“As a woman in the industry, I’m not only achieving personal success, but also becoming a role model through my solo work and Seraph Brass, breaking stereotypes, and contributing to a more inclusive musical landscape for future generations,” she said. “We are seeing more diversity and there is still a long way to go.”

With Assad’s “Bohemian Queen,” Bowden hopes the audience is left “dancing” and with “a  new appreciation for the trumpet.” The piece has many moods, Bowden said, and showcases the full ability of the trumpet.

The concerto is a portrait work that centers on Chicago-based painter Gertrude Abercrombie. Known as the “queen of bohemian artists,” Abercrombie immersed herself in both the art and jazz scenes of the city as an artist, musician and poet. 

Assad’s work has three movements each representing a part of Abercrombie’s life and art. The first and second movements, are inspired by her paintings, “Girl Searching” and “The Stroll,” respectively. The final movement imagines what one of Abercrombie’s parties were like as one of the greatest names in the jazz world. Bowden said the whole work “crosses lines, blending classical, contemporary and jazz, in both the trumpet and orchestral parts.”  

As the CSO’s season closes, Chafetz reflected on the “variety of wonderful music” the Chautauqua audience heard this summer.

“It’s just another reason to be so proud of our very own Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in anticipation of the Institution’s 150th anniversary next year,” Chafetz said. 

CSO to perform for last time this season under Milanov’s baton

Maestro Rossen Milanov conducts the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra on Aug. 3 in the Amphitheater. The CSO has two more concerts this summer, but the performance at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in the Amp will be Milanov’s last one for the 2023 season. HG Biggs/Staff Photographer

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

After 14 concerts, Music Director and Principal Symphonic Conductor Rossen Milanov is wrapping up another summer full of music at Chautauqua Institution. 

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will perform its final concert of the season under his baton at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater.  As with many of Milanov’s programs throughout the season, Saturday’s concert features strong programming themes and intersecting ideas. 

Representing some of the most original compositions created by composers from Latin America, the program begins with pieces by composers Alberto Ginastera and Arturo Marquez.

Ginastera’s Variaciones Concertantes features all the principal players of the symphony.

“Each instrument has a dedicated variation,” Milanov said. “For me, it is important to feature the individual players of our amazing orchestra on my last concert.” 

The final two works “represent the musical tradition of one of the most important musical centers: Vienna and the Viennese Waltz.” 

Regarding Johann Strauss’ “Tales from the Vienna Woods,” Milanov said that although the piece is overlooked and rarely performed, it is a “masterpiece full of enchanting melodies and rhythms.”   

Last, Richard Strauss’ The Suite from Der Rosenkavalier is a tribute to the waltz as the main soundtrack of Vienna in the last quarter of the 19th century. During one of his first visits to Chautauqua, Milanov performed the Suite from Der Rosenkavalier with the CSO.

“It is an uplifting finale of the concert,” Milanov said. “I hope that the audience would appreciate even more the quality, dedication and incredible musicianship of our Chautauqua Symphony. It is the most challenging program of the season, yet full of joy and celebration.” 

Reflecting on a season full of music from a wide range of styles and composers, Milanov said this season in particular has included “one of the richest, repertoire-wise” compared to years past.  

“I am so proud of all the performances,” Milanov said. “We are so fortunate to be here in Chautauqua and to have the opportunity to experience the transformative power of music together.”

Cavanaugh, Chafetz, CSO bring music of Billy Joel to Jamestown’s Reg Lenna

  • Audience members queue outside the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts Thursday in Jamestown, New York, for the “The Music of Billy Joel” concert, featuring Michael Cavanaugh and members of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

Photos by Brett Phelps

Tony and Grammy-nominated pianist and singer Michael Cavanaugh perform “The Music of Billy Joel” with The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra led by Principal Pops Conductor Stuart Chafetz Thursday evening, Aug. 17, 2023, at the Reg Lenna Center For The Arts, in Jamestown, New York. This is the first time the CSO has performed on the stage of the Reg Lenna during their senior at the Chautauqua Institution. Cavanaugh was handpicked by Billy Joel to star in the hit Broadway musical ‘Movin’ Out’ and is called “The New Voice of the American Rock and Roll Songbook” by Billboard.

CSO takes to the road, performing ‘The Music of Billy Joel’ with Michael Cavanaugh at Reg Lenna in Jamestown

Music of Billy Joel image

Sarah Russo 
Staff writer

At 7 years old, Michael Cavanaugh was hooked on Billy Joel. While his brothers were jamming out to KISS and Led Zeppelin, Cavanaugh was playing the piano and listening to Joel’s Glass Houses album. 

Coming full circle more than 20 years later, Cavanaugh was handpicked by Joel himself for the lead role in the Broadway musical Movin’ Out. The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will perform “The Music of Billy Joel” with Cavanaugh at 8 p.m. tonight at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts in Jamestown, under the baton of Principal Pops Conductor Stuart Chafetz. 

Even though the entire CSO won’t be in attendance, Chafetz said “the energy will be there.” 

“Having the additional brass … and these lush strings and woodwinds just makes such a difference as far as the weight of the song,” Chafetz said. “There’s so much power coming from Billy Joel … with Michael Cavanaugh and his band on top of that, with the symphony orchestra, … it’s just magical.” 

Cavanaugh learned to play the piano as a child and began performing in bars 20 years ago. For Movin’ Out, Cavanaugh and the cast received a multitude of accolades, including nominations for both  Grammy and Tony awards.

“I think probably the main thing that has made me such a huge Billy Joel fan is all the different styles he writes. … He’s very eclectic,” Cavanaugh said. “If you listen to ‘You May Be Right,’ that could be a Rolling Stone song. I could hear Mick Jagger singing. You listen to ‘Uptown Girl,’ it sounds like Frankie Valli. It’s really diverse.”

Since 2008, Cavanaugh has performed “The Music of Billy Joel” with over 100 orchestras all around the world. Cavanaugh said it’s “very interactive” and “a lot of fun.” For orchestral accompaniments, Cavanaugh said songs like “New York State of Mind” or “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” were obvious choices. But he also said unlikelier choices such as “Pressure,” which begins with a synthesizer, were added to the program. 

“It’s actually very classical, what the synth is playing. So we have the orchestra play that part, and it sounds like Beethoven,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s really an awesome thing. … We’re taking these songs and kind of putting them on steroids.” 

Chafetz has worked with Cavanaugh before in other orchestras and said “his energy, his voice, his piano-playing is excellent.” Living up to Joel’s legendary musical career is something Cavanaugh said he doesn’t try to do. Instead, he “wants to serve the song the right way.” During the opening night party for Movin’ Out, Cavanaugh said Joel’s mother told him “I can’t tell you two apart” when he and Joel sing. 

“Billy and I started laughing, because we don’t necessarily think that we sound so much alike,” Cavanaugh said. “I think what happens is these songs are such a part of me that they come out kind of the way they went in. I wind up singing some things the way he does … but it’s not even necessarily intentional.” 

For so many fans, Joel’s music has become a part of their lives, too. When they hear a particular song like “Movin’ Out” or “Big Shot,”  “it takes (them) back to where they were in that moment,” Cavanaugh said. Even though it’s Cavanaugh singing and not Joel, he said the lyrics still speak for themselves. 

“The song is always more important than the guy singing,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s the most important thing.” 

Chafetz has a long-time, personal connection with Joel’s music, since both grew up on Long Island in New York City. He remembers riding Nunley’s Carousel, mentioned as part of Joel’s “Waltz #1” from 2001’s Opus 1 to 10 Fantasies and Delusions album.

“There’s just so many things that resonate with me about Billy Joel’s music and the culture of Long Island and New York,” Chaffetz said. “… Hearing the music orchestrated just adds that much more sheen and velvety gorgeousness.”

Even after a storied career working with world-class musicians, orchestras around the world and his childhood musical idol, Cavanaugh doesn’t forget where he started all those years ago. 

“You can take the boy out of the piano bar, but you can’t take the piano bar out of the boy,” Cavanaugh said. 

2012 Effron Fellow Roderick Cox returns as guest conductor, leading CSO in Tchaikovsky, Wagner

Roderick Cox headshot 2

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

A new French horn changed the course of Roderick Cox’s musical career. 

He wanted to become a professional classical musician, but that would “take a lot of money, resources, exposure and opportunity,” he said. 

When the Otis Redding Foundation and Zelma Redding purchased the instrument for Cox, “it was like redefining my voice,” he said. 

Now, Cox – who served as the 2012 David Effron Conducting Fellow with the Music School Festival Orchestra – returns to conduct the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

“I just remember getting that instrument for the first time. I felt like I could do anything,” Cox said. “That’s what I try to do as a musician now.”  

Cox has been praised as a conductor who is “paving the way,” according to NBC News, and recognized as a “trailblazer, a conductor who will be amongst the vanguard,” as described in the Minnesota Star Tribune

Even though Cox didn’t “set out on a path” to change the industry from a historically white-dominated art, he has done just that, even if he said it is a “small role.” With the founding of the Roderick Cox Music Foundation, he has been able to provide mentorship and financial gifts to young aspiring musicians from underrepresented communities that want to pursue music on a higher level.

“It’s just been so fulfilling and gratifying to not only hear from the fellows, some who may be immigrants from Kenya or come from broken homes, and to hear how getting a new cello or new bow or being able to audition and be placed in a youth orchestra completely changes their lives and gives them more motivation, more confident in themselves,” Cox said. 

When he realized music could grant him opportunities to travel, he said it became “the first medium that helped (him) explore the outside world.” 

“It seemed like it wasn’t a job, but this sort of lifestyle where now I find myself living in Berlin, Germany, and traveling to France, Finland, to Norway and these places through music,” Cox said. “Not only do I think it’s the greatest of the arts, but it also makes me, I think, a better human being. It increases my understanding, not only of other people from other cultures and other parts of the world, but also my understanding of myself and what we are capable of as human beings and what we’re capable of through music and how it can bridge divides and bring us together.”

As a conductor, the musical path is much different than playing a single instrument. The process includes a collaborative element, being able to see the score, having everyone’s part and knowing exactly what each instrument is doing. 

“The orchestra is now your instrument,” he said regarding conducting. 

“Your range of possibilities of what you can do with that instrument is much greater than what you can do by playing a single line with the French horn or with the violin or with the flute,” Cox said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with everyone.” 

His return to Chautauqua includes selections from Richard Wagner and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who each hold a significance to Cox within his musical career. 

The evening will begin with Wagner’s Tannhauser Overture, based on the character Tannhauser from the composer’s opera. This overture tells the character’s story of lust, love and redemption. Like many overtures, Wagner’s piece encompasses important themes into one composition. The selection includes the Pilgrims’ Chorus, written in the chorale style of J.S. Bach, highly chromatic music associated with the sensuous world of Venusberg and Tannhäuser’s ode to Venus. 

The overture was the first piece Cox conducted at Chautauqua while he was a David Effron Conducting Fellow. Nearly 12 years later, Cox gets to conduct the piece again, but this time with the CSO. 

He said it “means a lot to me to bring back this overture” and is “delighted to meet the Chautauqua audience, the musicians and share music with them.” 

Also featured on the program is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor. Many of Tchaikovsky’s works were inspired by Wagner, making the two an ideal pairing. 

With four distinct movements, Symphony No. 5 is considered a cyclical symphony with a recurring fate main theme throughout all four movements. The feeling behind this selection includes a narrative paradigm called per aspera ad astra, or tragic to triumphant. As the theme continues to be heard, it makes a transition in the final movement from minor to major signifying triumph. 

Cox recalled that Tchaikovsky’s music inspired him all those years ago to pursue a conducting career in classical music. 

“I think it takes us into a different realm of his life as a human being grappling with fate and destiny,” Cox said. “You hear that struggle in this music so vividly – the struggle from depression and hopelessness eventually, to triumph.”

Guest conductor Carolyn Kuan to make Chautauqua debut with CSO program of ‘Symphonic Fireworks’

Members of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra take a bow after their performance on July 27 in the Amphitheater. Carrie Legg/Staff Photographer

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

Working with top-tier ballets, operas and orchestras, Carolyn Kuan is a conductor of versatility. 

Kuan will join the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra this evening as the guest conductor for a program titled “Symphonic Fireworks.” The CSO will perform at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater. 

Kuan and the CSO will only have one rehearsal together before the concert tonight, and Kuan said the “music will have to be put together very quickly.” 


The program includes four selections Kuan described as a mix of  “audience favorites” and “the best of classicals” with just one piece on the program people might not know. 

Chautauqua’s Performing and Visual Arts Department worked with Kuan to develop the “Symphonic Fireworks” program. The night begins with Bedrich Smetana’s Vltava (The Moldau) and will continue with Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Huang Ruo’s Folk Songs for Orchestra, and concludes with  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Español. Kuan said she’s very familiar with all the pieces on the program and has lost track of how many times she’s performed some of them.

Kuan has been a conductor for more than 20 years performing with groups across the world including New York City Ballet, the Santa Fe Opera, the Florida Orchestra, West Australian Orchestra, the Symphonic Orchestra of Yucatan, and many more. 

Over the course of her career, Kuan said her passion for music has only deepened throughout her experiences. 

“When I was younger, it was just about music. But as I get older, it really becomes more and more clear to me,” Kuan said. “What drives me more than anything is that feeling of making a difference as artists. … How do we try to make sense of the world and how do we try to make a difference, even though our form is music?” 

Using her career as a conductor, Kuan has cultivated an expertise in Asian music and contemporary works. She helped launch the Celebrate Asia! Program with community leaders representing eight Asian cultures and led sold-out performances for three years in a row. 

Kuan said she frequently gravitates toward music selections that reflect issues she cares about such as environmental rights and LGBTQ+ issues. 

“It’s always very important to me to try to bring awareness to issues,” Kuan said. “This is much easier when I’m the music director,” like using Tchaikovsky — a composer Kuan said “struggled tremendously with mental health” — to brig awareness to mental health issues.

Kuan said that “music has a very special ability to bring people together.” The program tonight has “big variety” to allow many people of all backgrounds and interests to come together to “enjoy the joy of music.” 

The world, she said, “is full of struggles right now, full of inequality. But when all of us come together to enjoy music and just block out the rest of the world … and let the music kind of bring us some peace and joy, there is something very special about it.”

“I think it’s important to use music through (an) issue,” Kuan said, “through the things that connect people … so that people can have a deeper experience.”

With CSO, Augustin Hadelich returns to Amphitheater stage for Sibelius’ Violin Concerto

Augustin Hadelich performs Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 as Maestro Rossen Milanov conducts the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra on Aug. 1, 2019, in the Amphitheater. Hadelich returns to perform with the CSO at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amp. Sarah Yenesel/Daily File Photo

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

A familiar face takes the stage as a soloist for tonight’s performance in the as violinist Augustin Hadelich will perform with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

Under the baton of Rossen Milanov, ​​music director and principal symphonic conductor for the CSO, tonight’s concert will begin with Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D Minor. 

The piece, written in 1902, is Sibelius’ only concerto. The composer, who tried his hand at playing the string instrument himself without success, wrote, “the violin took me by storm, and for the next 10years it was my dearest wish, my overriding ambition, to become a great virtuoso.”

His concerto represents both Sibelius’ feeling for the instrument and the pain of his farewell to his “dearest wish” and “overriding ambition,” according to the San Francisco Symphony. 

In 2022 and 2023, Hadelich performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and as part of a Australia and a European tour with the Bergen Philharmonic. Just two days ahead of his performance on the grounds, he will be performing as part of a festival in Salzburg, Austria.

In 2016, Hadelich won a Grammy award for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” for his recording of Dutilleux’s violin concerto, L’Arbre des songes, with the Seattle Symphony and conductor Ludovic Morlot.

A graduate of The Juilliard School, Hadelich is a member of the violin faculty of Yale University’s School of Music. His latest album, Recuerdos, released in 2022, features works by Pablo de Sarasate, Francisco Tarrega, Sergei Prokofiev and Benjamin Britten with Germany’s WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln and conductor Cristian Măcelaru, another face familiar to Chautauqua.

Hadelich — called “one of the most exciting violinists in the world” by Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany’s most prestigious newspapers — was nominated for a Grammy for his 2021 album of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas.

Hadelich first performed on the grounds early in his career, and has been returning ever since, which means that Chautauqua has “followed him through many stages of his life and artistry,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, senior vice president and chief program officer. 

“He is a favorite of our community and orchestra,” Moore said. “We are so fortunate that he returns to Chautauqua with regularity.” 

The concert will conclude with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F major. 

Composed of four separate movements, Beethoven’s Symphony No.8 drew inspiration from “characteristics that generate two sides of a coin in reshaping the dramatic possibilities of the symphonic genre,” according to the Eastman School of Music.

The Eighth Symphony was written around the same time as his Seventh Symphony, in 1811 to 1812. Beethoven did not follow the trajectory established by the Seventh Symphony in his Eighth, which instead includes some of the composer’s reworked symphonic conventions with subtle wit.

Founded in 1929, the CSO has become an integral part of the summer experience season after season, Moore said.

Taking in a symphony concert should feel like “coming home” when people enter the grounds and enjoy one of the CSO performances, she said.

Principal flute Sherman to lead Puts’ Flute Concerto; Opera Conservatory joins CSO for ‘Dante Symphony’

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Rossen Milanov perform Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Thursday in the Amphitheater. The CSO will be performing twice this weekend, at 8:15 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, both in the Amp. HG Biggs/Staff Photographer

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra is shining the spotlight on the some of the Institution’s in-house talent with a performance at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater. The evening’s program will feature Voice students of the Chautauqua Opera Conservatory in Liszt’s Dante Symphony, and the CSO’s own principal flute Richard Sherman in Kevin Puts’ Flute Concerto.

Active as a soloist, orchestral musician and recitalist, Sherman serves as professor of flute at the Michigan State University College of Music, and performs with the International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and the Jackson Symphony Orchestra.

Even though Puts wrote the concerto only 10 years ago, Sherman said he is no stranger to this particular work: He’s performed the piece three times before.


“The reason that I took to the piece right away is that it’s very tonal and lyrical,” Sherman said. “It’s very listenable for an audience … It’s beautifully refreshing, melodic … and it has very compelling rhythms.”

Although it showcases the flute, Sherman said the woodwind instrument “really serves as a protagonist for the work” and the concerto is “very much like a story” instead of a traditional solo work. The music of the orchestra is the centerpiece while “the flute is the main character of the story,” he said. 

“There’s an opportunity for the flute to really have a moment of real intimacy with the audience,” Sherman said. “And yet then you get to the last movement, which is like a dance, and it’s very rousing.”

When Sherman first heard the second of the piece’s three movements — which Puts wrote after drawing inspiration from Mozart — he thought it might be derivative or cliched, but after more listening and performing of the piece, Sherman said he thinks the movement is stunning and “is almost hypnotic.”

The final movement of the concerto is driven by rhythm with its “main ideas drawn from the main theme of the first movement and culminating in a highly energetic dialogue between the soloist and a small, contrapuntal band of winds, brass and percussion,” Sherman said. 

“I think the piece speaks for itself and it’s my job just to sort of be a servant as much as I can and keep myself out of the way,” Sherman said, “and just be the communicator as best I’m able to be.”

The CSO will conclude the evening’s program with Franz Liszt’s Dante Symphony

Jonathan Blumhofer, a composer and violinist, analyzed the symphony in a 2018 article featured in The Arts Fuse, an online art magazine.

“There are no two ways around the fact that Franz Liszt’s Dante Symphony is a problematic piece,” Blumhofer said. “There’s the question of whether or not it’s really a symphony. Its two movements are basically a pair of symphonic poems, each depicting, respectively, scenes from Dante’s ‘Inferno’ and ‘Purgatorio,’ the first two parts of The Divine Comedy,” he wrote. “While both movements are, essentially, in ternary forms, they’re quite free. Nothing but Liszt’s title ties them to the symphonic tradition and both can be performed separately.” 

Even still, Blumhofer believes the work by Liszt is still “significant for its fresh approach” even if it’s not “conventionally symphonic.”

“In all, the Dante Symphony is a special piece,” Blumhofer said.  “… It’s imperfect – the lack of a ‘Paradiso’ movement is a shame – and sometimes shallow. But, in the right hands at least, it well exceeds the sum of its parts.”

With beloved Prokofiev, lively ‘William Tell,’ CSO to present fanciful, fun tunes for whole family

Rossen Milanov leads the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in Florence Price’s Concert Overture No. 2, on July 25 in the Amphitheater. Brett Phelps/Staff Photographer

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

Music is a universal language that can speak to anyone, from any background or of any age. Children can be moved by music even if they don’t know why — but it also doesn’t hurt if that music reminds them of a funny cartoon or animal.

Laura Savia, vice president of performing and visual arts, said the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will “share classical music of the highest caliber in a way that is fun and accessible to all” with its upcoming program.

“(It) will bring the story to life in a way that is fun for kids and kids at heart,” she said.

The CSO will perform two beloved classics, Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater under the baton of Music Director and Principal Symphonic Conductor Rossen Milanov.

Audiences of all ages are sure to enjoy the program, Savia said — she has her own fond memories to use as an example.

“I remember seeing Peter and the Wolf performed as a kid and running around for days afterward, singing melodies from the piece and acting out parts of the story,” Savia said. “I hope there are some kids at this concert — perhaps my own daughter — who will have that experience.” 

Further enhancing that experience, acclaimed Broadway actor Brandon Dirden will perform the role of the narrator. 

Serving as an acting instructor for the Chautauqua Theater Company this season, Dirden is an associate arts professor in the Graduate Acting Department at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

“Prokofiev is one of the great orchestral composers of all time,” Savia said. “This narration enhances the story at the heart of this piece, while celebrating his music.” 

The 30-minute musical fairy tale, written in 1936, tells the story of a young boy’s adventures with animals. Each character is portrayed by different instruments: Young Peter in the sound of the strings, his grandfather in the bassoon, the wolf through the horns and more. 

Musically, Peter and the Wolf shows how humanity and nature live in harmony. The adversary — the wolf — is defeated, but not killed, in the piece’s optimistic ending.

The group of heroes working together to defeat the wolf are a part of the enduring example of Socialist Realism, an officially sanctioned composition style developed and championed in the Soviet Union between 1932 and 1988.

Prokofiev himself called the piece an “experiment,” according to socialist news outlet People’s World

“In Russia today, there is a great emphasis on the musical education of children,” Prokofiev later said. “Children get an impression of several instruments of the orchestra just by hearing the piece performed.”

Featuring similar lively representations, the “William Tell Overture” is considered one of the most recognizable classical music pieces. 

From the animated antics of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse to the film soundtrack “Princess Diaries 2” and TV commercials for Reebok and Honda, the final section of the overture is frequently used to enhance visual action and adventure.

“The ‘William Tell Overture’ is immediately recognizable from classic cartoons,” Savia said. “It is a timeless piece that seems to put a smile on people’s faces.”

Composed in 1829 as part of an opera based on the Swiss legend of William Tell, the overture’s story follows a man who must demonstrate his loyalty to the ruling Austrian authorities by shooting an apple off his son’s head with a crossbow.

Rossini was inspired by the dramatic tension of the story and the epic nature of the Swiss landscape. The 12-minute piece consists of four distinct parts, each with a different tempo and mood.

The first section has become known as the Prelude or “Dawn,” featuring a slow and peaceful melody to represent the sunrise over the Swiss Alps. “The Storm” comes in the fast and chaotic second section. Next, “the Call to the Cows” is lively and cheerful, representing the return of livestock from the fields to the village. Finally, the most famous portion, “March of the Swiss Soldiers,” is a fast, triumphant piece representing the Swiss victory over the Austrian oppressors.

“It will be an absolute delight to hear it performed live by a full orchestra,” Savia said.

Chautauqua Opera alum Gray to join CSO for evening of ‘American Song’

Music Director and Principal Symphonic Conductor Rossen Milanov leads the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra last Tuesday in the Amphitheater. Brett Phelps/Staff Photographer

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

A “life of literature,” the Week Six theme, can extend beyond just books.

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will perform “American Song” at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater featuring one piece with written words directly from America’s 16th president, with vocals sung by Chautauqua Opera Company alumnus Yazid Gray. 

Under the baton of Music Director and Principal Symphonic Conductor Rossen Milanov, the CSO will perform two selections: Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring andMichael Daugherty’s “Letters from Lincoln.”

“(These are) two influential and captivating compositions that offer unique perspectives on American history and culture,” Milanov said. 


Both pieces showcase these perspectives, but in different ways, he said. 

“Daugherty’s work combines the power of Abraham Lincoln’s words with an imaginative and contemporary musical language,” Milanov said, “while Copland’s iconic piece captures the essence of the American spirit and landscape with its evocative melodies and rural imagery.” 

Gray will accompany the CSO for this evening’s program on the Daugherty. 

Gray performed with Chautauqua Opera as an Apprentice Artist and baritone soloist in As the Cosi Crumbles: A Company Developed Piece in summer 2021. Gray also participated as a featured Young Artist in Chautauqua Opera’s digital season for 2020. 

The CSO will begin with Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Originally composed for dance and choreographer Martha Graham, the work has become a representation of American culture. 

The final selection in tonight’s program is Daugherty’s “Letters from Lincoln,” featuring soloist Gray. First performed in 2009, Daugherty’s work creates a musical portrait of the 16th president, capturing his eloquence and hope that humanity could overcome prejudice to create a better world. The piece was also composed and premiered during the bicentennial year of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. 

Daugherty wrote in his program notes that he “discovered ways to bring (Lincoln’s) historic greatness into the present.” 

The composer read speeches, poems and letters for Lincoln to study his life. He even visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and traveled to the battlefields of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. 

Daugherty said many historians and the American public “regard Lincoln as America’s greatest president who successfully led the United States through the Civil War and initiated the end of slavery.” 

Lincoln’s life, full of spectacular opposites, ironies, contradictions and pathos, provided Daugherty “with an abundance of musical dramatic possibilities.” 

The baritone solo features words from Lincoln based on historical documentation. The 25-minute performance includes seven movements.  

“Both compositions not only showcase the immense talent and creativity of their respective composers,” Milanov said, “but also serve as an important part of the musical canon, resonating with audiences for generations to come.”

Gavrylyuk returns to Amp in solo recital, in a place that is ‘a piece of heaven’

Alexander Gavrylyuk joins the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and Music Director and Principal Symphonic Conductor Rossen Milanov last Thursday in the Amphitheater. Carrie Legg/Staff Photographer

Zoe Kolenovsky
Staff writer

Pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk has developed a warm relationship with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra during the last 17 years of guest appearances. 

“Playing with the Chautauqua Symphony is like playing with family members by now,” he said. “It’s really the most endearing, warm experience every time.”

In his second and final appearance on the Amphitheater stage this season, Gavrylyuk will be closing out his stay with a solo recital at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amp.

“I’m very happy to be back every year, very happy to be part of the Chautauqua society,” said Gavrylyuk, artist-in-residence and artistic adviser for the School of Music’s Piano Program.

When at Chautauqua, Gavrylyuk works closely with Program Chair Nikki Melville, a relationship that has flourished over the years.

“He’s just an outstanding role model for the students in terms of somebody that is a fabulous player, a famous player and a fabulous teacher,” she said.

His technical skills will be on display for the Chautauqua community this evening, with a performance that begins with Franz Joseph Haydn’s Sonata No. 47 in B Minor, Op. 14, No. 6.

“This is a very theatrical work. It’s quite bright in terms of its range of expressions,” said Gavrylyuk. “There’s all kinds of operatic drama and expressions of joy and passion and purity, and lots of humor as well.”

This will be followed by a series of Chopin’s greatest works: two Etudes and his Fantasie in F Minor.

Gavrylyuk said Fantasie is “very wise in a way because it’s already Opus 39. So he was quite a bit older at that stage compared to the Etudes, which were written in Opus 10.”

The piece is very intense thematically, with Gavrylyuk describing it as bittersweet.

“We hear these joyful moments of an absolutely outgoing sense of joy and love, and also at the same time there’s tormented feelings of this piece as well. There’s sort of a sense of fate above all of those,” he said.

That concludes the first half of the concert, which will continue after an intermission with the full selection of movements from Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

“It’s a work which really explores human expression in such a variety of characters, of tone, colors, and visions,” Gavrylyuk said.

While the audience is most likely to be familiar with the final movement, “The Great Gate of Kiev,” Gavrylyuk said each of the work’s elements is engaging.

“It’s so powerful; there are so many fireworks in there,” he said.

Gavrylyuk is internationally renowned for his performances in concert, having performed as a soloist and with orchestras to critical acclaim. The Ukrainian pianist began his studies at age 7 in Australia, where he grew up, and progressed rapidly. 

He took first prize in the 1999 Horowitz International Piano Competition and the 2000 Hamamatsu International Piano Competition at ages 15 and 16, later receiving a gold medal at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Masters Competition in 2005. 

He has participated in music festivals around the world, notably in New York City, Rotterdam and Los Angeles, and his numerous solo recordings over the years have been widely praised.

In addition to his performing obligations, Gavrylyuk is involved with much of the Chautauqua School of Music’s Piano Program, teaching lessons and holding discussions during his stay. 

“I’m bringing my experience as a concert musician to the students in different forms. … I can offer a lot of what I’ve experienced on stages for the last 25 years,” he said.

Gavrylyuk taught a master class with a number of the students last Friday, which he said is one of his favorite parts of his partnership with the program.

“It’s sharing and working through different musical ideas together with the students, which to me personally is the most humbling and enriching kind of experience,” he said. “I’m much more in favor of a mutual kind of process rather than the hierarchical type of teacher-student setup. I much prefer to have the kind of mental approach of camaraderie and friendship.

The night is sure to be a joyous one in the Amp, and Gavrylyuk said he is grateful for each chance to perform on the grounds.

“The philosophy of Chautauqua aligns with my own vision for the arts,” he said. “I get very inspired by being here because I meet people that share this point of view, and they share the passion for learning, the passion for sharing, the passion for art and for this universal language that music presents us with.”

Gavrylyuk said he enjoys the balance of learning and “feeling of zen” that lends itself to open-mindedness.

“Those things coming together for me,” he said, “it’s like a piece of heaven.”

CSO, guest conductor Lin present ‘three-dimensional movie-watching experience’ with ‘Return of the Jedi’

Screenshot 2023-07-29 at 2.56.23 AM
Illustrations by Justin Seabrook / design editor

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

Scored with sweeping strings, triumphant brass and booming timpani, the music of an epic opera is set to carry listeners across the universe this weekend.

But this chapter of what is now an entire world of colorful characters and high drama was written in 1983, not 1883: The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra is set to perform music of “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” alongside the film at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater.

Rather than a seasoned soprano or poised baritone with which to collaborate, guest conductor Chia-Hsuan Lin said the movie itself is “a super diva soloist” with unyielding demands and pacing.

​​“The film, … the image, will not change,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how much I plead. So the tricky part is to work with this incredible soloist on the screen and to lead the orchestra to match that.” 

The score, however, was written by “one of the greatest composers of our time,” Lin said: John Williams.

The composer, who has more than 100 feature film scores to his name in his seven-decade-long career as the most Oscar-nominated person alive (behind only Walt Disney), is “masterful,” and “Return of the Jedi” is no exception, Lin said.

“The way (Williams) writes themes and the way he orchestrates all these for all these characters that he’s trying to describe or illustrate … it’s incredible,” she said. “It’s very genius.”

Lin, who will make her Chautauqua debut with this performance, trained in Taiwan then came to the United States for graduate school at Northwestern University. 

Pulling off a concert of this magnitude is no easy feat, but Lin said it’s all worth it in the end, particularly when the audience reacts to big emotional moments.

“I love during the concert we’re performing and hearing the audience cheering for their favorite characters when they hear the music,” Lin said. “The brilliance is that the music is telling the story, because everybody knows the movie so well. If you close your eyes, you know which character walked in or which character flew in or which character won the battle. You are hearing the movie and the music.” 

Even the biggest Star Wars fans can appreciate anew the layers that enhance this “three-dimensional” experience, Lin said. 

When everything is in sync and the live music elevates and heightens the intensity of the film — when Princess Leia attempts to rescue Han Solo and reveals herself as the bounty hunter, for example — Lin said the relationship between the performers and the audience is the most rewarding.

“The celebration of the rebel, to celebrate the fall of the empire — the entire room, you can feel that,” she said. “The trumpet of the horns, of the brass, everyone on stage soaring for that celebration; that experience is incredible.”

CSO, Milanov to present program of Dawson, Price — ‘two of the most remarkable African American composers’

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra performs Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major under the baton of Maestro Rossen Milanov last Tuesday in the Amphitheater. HG Biggs/Staff Photographer

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

The 20th century was filled with the creation of new genres of music, from jazz to rock, but for African American composers, the time presented many challenges to gain recognition in the musical space. 

Florence Price and William Dawson are two Black composers who persevered to share their musical talents with the world, and now the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will perform their works at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater under the baton of Musical Director and Principal Symphonic Conductor Rossen Milanov. 

Tonight’s concert will begin with Price’s Concert Overture No. 2. 

For decades, it was nearly impossible to hear a piece of her music. Despite her immense talent and drive, many classical music, performers and gatekeepers put her outside, and her work failed to gain traction with the large, almost exclusively white institutions that had the power to catapult her to the mainstream. 

“Certainly Florence Price was a pioneer, to put it mildly, and she was an inspired musician — an inspired, prolific composer,” said Timothy Muffitt, artistic director of the School of Music and conductor of the Music School Festival Orchestra, who led the CSO in a Price performance ealier in this summer. “Naturally, she had a hard time getting her music played. People wouldn’t look at it, they wouldn’t even consider it, but she’s a composer of just extraordinary historical significance.” 

As a Black female composer of the 19th century, Price comes from a different background than other composers of the time period. She uses her own individual perspective, while integrating a well-known and well-established musical vocabulary. 

“I think that’s where a lot of the interest in her music lies,” Muffitt said. “It’s not like she’s inventing a whole new musical language. She’s using a language that’s already established. How that comes through in her music … she’s speaking a language we recognize, but it has an inflection and a spirit that is fresh still today, even though this piece is almost 100 years old.” 

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1887, Price wrote four symphonies: Symphony No. 1 in E Minor won first prize in the Rodman Wanamaker Competition in 1932; Symphony No. 2 in G Minor is presumed lost; Symphony No. 3 in C Minor; and Symphony No. 4 in D Minor. 

In recent years, there has been renewed interest in her work. A recording of her symphonies performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2022. Her music has been performed by the San Francisco Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and now the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. 

Price’s Concert Overture No. 2 was composed in 1943. Two librarians at the University of Arkansas, Tom Dillard and Tim Nutt, found this piece in an abandoned Chicago residence of Price’s where she lived before her death in 1953; the overture may have been lost without their work. 

“This masterpiece brilliantly intervenes the popular melodies,” Milanov said. “… And it concludes with an impressive climax.” 

The CSO will also perform William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony. Dawson was a Black composer, choir director and professor specializing in Black religious folk music of the mid-1900s. Dawson himself wrote that his symphony was “symbolic of the link uniting Africa and her rich heritage with her descendants in America,” and gave each of its three movements a title. The three movements are: “The Bond of Africa”, “Hope in the Night” and “O, “Le’ Me Shine, Shine Like a Morning Star!” 

“The themes are taken from what are popularly known as Negro Spirituals,” Dawson wrote for the program notes of the Carnegie Hall performance.

“I am glad that Chautauqua is one of the few places that this work could be heard live in this new edition,” Milanov said.  “The orchestration style of Dawson is really impressive.” 

Both Price and Dawson faced racism, but Milanov said the time during which the two composers lived was one of comparatively better circumstances. 

“(There are) interesting connections here because both composers are Black and they were living in the 1930s in the United States,” Milanov said. “An interesting time and perhaps a little bit more open and encouraging for diverse voices to express themselves than following years.” 

The program selection was purposefully chosen, Milanov said. Each piece by Dawson and Price holds a deep, historic narrative. 

“Both works on the program will give us an opportunity to hear important music created by African American composers,” Milanov said. “(The composers) were inspired by themes that were very close to their cultural traditions.” 

Review: Backdropped by lightning flashes, Parisian flare propels sharp details of CSO

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra performs a evening program titled “Mozart and Haydn,” led by Music Director and Principal Symphonic Conductor Rossen Milanov Thursday in the Amphitheater. Jess Kszos/Staff Photographer

Andrew Druckenbrod
guest critic

For the monarchy, aristocracy and high culture of 18th-century France, the grandiose ruled. In Versailles and Paris, opulence projected puissance, and its musical tableau was no exception. Operas were extravagant and orchestras grand. Foreign composers looking to make headway in the country found themselves with more firepower than they enjoyed at home. 

Composers Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Mozart were among those, and a smart program last Thursday by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and conductor Rossen Milanov showcased a “Parisian” symphony by each.

With the typical audience reduced due to a tempest rolling across the lake (while glorious lightning flashed throughout), the concert opened with a work by a man who was more famous in Paris than those two titans: Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. 

If you were lucky enough to have attended the marvelous biographic play/concert production, The Chevalier, last year in the Amphitheater, you know about this 18th-century polymath. Master fencer, composer, violinist and advocate for racial equality, Bologne saw great prejudice because of his status as a “mulatto.” 

The CSO performs a program of Haydn’s Symphony No. 82, Mozart’s Symphony No. 31, and the overture of de Bologne’s L’Amant Anonyme. Jess Kszos/Staff Photographer

But around the time of the 1780 premiere of his opera comique, L’Amant Anonyme (The Anonymous Lover), with a libretto by playwright Desfontaines-Lavallée, he was at the height of his fame. The CSO performed its overture, with the strings capturing its breezy nature with elan.

Not long after, Haydn made the most of his invitation to write several symphonies for a concert series, of which Symphony No. 82 is a pleasant affair. While not matching the substance of his latter, it often has the ambience of a string quartet, the genre he was seminal in creating. Over the years, music director Milanov and the CSO strings have developed a magnificent rapport. 

At times, he had only to tip his shoulder to cue them or barely move his arms. The results were sharp details, legato phrases and even-handed rhythms. The winds and timpani blended well throughout, and the curious dance above a drone in the finale that lends the symphony its nickname of “The Bear” was mercifully not overdone, as can be the case.

For those who wonder why many consider Mozart the pinnacle of classical music, the concert presented an excellent example as it ended with his work for a large French orchestra: his Symphony No. 31, “Paris.” It displays dynamism in every part, mixing flourishes with driving rhythms and a glossy texture. 

Milanov and the CSO brought out the nuances that define Mozart’s oeuvre, ushering the subtle shifts to minor mode, unexpected turns in developments and delayed gratification of a work he probably tossed off in a day despite rarely writing in the French style.

Andrew Druckenbrod is a former classical music critic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He studied musicology at the University of Minnesota and is an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Guest conductor Loh joins CSO for performance of beloved film “The Princess Bride”

Illustration by Henry Domst/Design Editor

Sarah Russo
Staff writer

Sometimes the soundtrack of a movie can be just as famous as the movie itself, just how the story of “The Princess Bride,” filled with romance, comedy, adventure and magic, is enhanced with its musical score. 

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will perform “The Princess Bride” in Concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater. The live music and movie feature will be under the baton of guest conductor Lawrence Loh, conductor and music director of Symphoria.

Loh has led the Syracuse, New York, orchestra since 2015 and is frequently a guest conductor for major films. He has previously held conducting positions with the Pittsburgh Symphony, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, Syracuse Opera, Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, Dallas Symphony and the Colorado Symphony.

Even though “The Princess Bride” first hit theaters in 1987, Loh said audiences can experience the same anticipation as when it was newly released with the performance this Saturday. 

“When people line up to go to watch it with the orchestra, it has a similar kind of feeling of a big premiere of an event,” Loh said. “I just like that kind of atmosphere.” 

Seeing a movie with live music takes on a completely different stimulating experience, Loh said. He’s a huge fan of “The Princess Bride,” having performed it once before with the Phoenix Symphony. 

Compared to a usual orchestra performance, Loh said he enjoys the audience engagement, as they react to jokes, character appearances and well-known lines in the dialogue.

“They were laughing at everything and they were applauding,” he said. “They applauded when the orchestra played something really spectacular.”

Even for those unfamiliar with the film, Saturday’s CSO performance can be enjoyed by everyone, Loh said.

“It’s a really fun community and interactive experience,” Loh said. “For people that don’t know the movie, they’ll get to hear it in that kind of context of watching it in a community of people. It kind of amplifies everything, and just makes it so fun.”

From the perspective of a conductor, movie music and traditional orchestra performance are quite different. 

Loh said when playing along to a film, the musicians have little ability to make the music spontaneous. For example, in “The Princess Bride,” a sword fight is laid out perfectly in the score to coincide with different swings and strikes.

Originally, the movie’s soundtrack was created using a synthesizer to sample various orchestral instruments. Now, with the help of the CSO, “The Princess Bride” will be brought to a new life and create a “completely new experience.”

For Loh’s first visit to Chautauqua, he is looking forward to not only sharing the stage with the CSO for the first time, but also an old college friend, Bob Sydner, who is guitar soloist for this weekend’s performance.

They have yet to share the stage together until now.

“That’s very special to me,” Loh said. “I’m always looking forward to meeting a new orchestra, and I’ve heard great things about the Amphitheater and the atmosphere there.” 

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