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Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra director gets contract extension

September 17, 2015
Westfield Republican

Chautauqua Institution announced a two-year contract extension for Rossen Milanov, music director of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. The extension follows Milanov's immensely successful debut season in this role, and ensures that he will remain at the CSO's helm through the 2019 season.

"Chautauqua has been tingling with the vibrancy and vitality of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra under Rossen Milanov's leadership this season," said Deborah Sunya Moore, incoming vice president for the performing and visual arts. "It was with great ease and excitement that Rossen and the Institution agreed to extend his contract and make a five-year commitment to each other, the musicians of the CSO, and this community. This contract extension will allow us to move forward with an eye toward the long-term growth and evolution of our great orchestra."

For his just-concluded first season, Milanov worked with Moore to create a new series, "Into the Music," and establish a new Chautauqua tradition with a family-friendly Sunday afternoon matinee performance. Both initiatives are meant to make classical music more accessible to the uninitiated. The CSO performed more than 20 times in 2015, including a number of opera, dance and theater presentations, continuing its role as accompanying orchestra to Chautauqua's other resident companies.

"After an invigorating first season at Chautauqua, it feels right to make a longer commitment to shared music-making, allowing us to focus on the stability and artistic growth of the CSO," Milanov said. "I will be devoting the next years to raising the level and reputation of the Chautauqua Institution musical experience and developing the programming for our new chapter of the Amphitheater with emphasis on collaborative multi-art projects in addition to the great masterworks that will remain core to the CSO's repertoire."

Milanov was named the ninth music director of the CSO in October 2014. He currently holds the same post at the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Symphony and the Orquesta Sinfnica del Principado de Asturias (OSPA) in Spain. His debut Chautauqua season received high acclaim from visiting guest critics and CSO musicians.

"Milanov's reputation has not yet caught up with his talent," wrote critic Johanna Keller in her review for The Chautauquan Daily of Milanov's final 2015 performance with the CSO. "While he holds several directorships simultaneously, he is only now coming into wider recognition, and Chautauqua was canny in nabbing him now."

"Coming on the heels of a landmark CSO concert season, I am excited and overjoyed to learn that Maestro Milanov has been engaged to lead the CSO for the next four years," said Eli Eban, principal clarinetist and member of the CSO Artistic Advisory Committee. "I commend Chautauqua Institution's leadership for this forward-looking and wise decision, and I am already looking forward to continuing this superb artistic collaboration next summer and beyond."

"I was so happy to hear that Rossen's contract has been extended," said Jolyon Pegis, principal cellist and also a member of the CSO Artistic Advisory Committee. "The CSO has never sounded better."

Chautauqua President Tom Becker welcomed the agreement, saying Milanov exhibits a firm grasp of the CSO's role in the larger context of Chautauqua Institution.

"We're incredibly pleased to have Rossen Milanov as the music director of our Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra," Becker said. "He understands at a profound level the connection between art, artist and audience, both feeding on that dynamic and feeding it. He fits authentically and vitally into a community of ideas and exchange - he gets what's going on here."

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1929 and today continues its legacy as the center of musical life at Chautauqua Institution. Performing more than 20 concerts in the Amphitheater including two concerts accompanying Chautauqua Dance, and two productions in collaboration with the 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 Chautauqua and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages - all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village. Smithsonian magazine named Chautauqua as the No. 1 "Best Small Town to Visit in 2014" in the cover story of its April 2014 issue.



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