Chautauqua Institution Holds Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Select members of the community cut the ribbon at the Chautauqua Amphitheater celebration.

Select members of the community cut the ribbon at the Chautauqua Amphitheater celebration.

CHAUTAUQUA — Silence rushed over the audience in the new Chautauqua Amphitheater as Rossen Milanov and his Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra took center stage. The Music Director and the orchestra broke into “Overture to The Consecration of the House” by Beethoven and just like that the revived Chautauqua Amphitheater was back in business.

“The Amphitheater is a place for inspiration,” Milanov said, addressing the eager visitors in the Chautauqua Amphitheater prior to his performance.

Milanov then listed off the improvements that were made to the Amphitheater which included: a larger stage, better acoustics and improved views for all of the sight lines. He then, without uncertainty, proudly exclaimed that the Chautauqua Institution was now in the position to offer the highest quality of performances for decades to come.

Shortly before the performances there was a formal ceremony opening the amphitheater to the public that included an official ribbon cutting. Many individuals spoke on behalf of the work that was put into the enormous project. Included on that list was Milanov; Chair of the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees James A. Pardo Jr.; President of the Chautauqua Institution Michael E. Hill; Adrianna Mitchel of the Chautauqua Theater Company; Reverend Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr.; and Chautauqua County Executive Vince W. Horrigan.

Hill took the stage after Pardo Jr. and addressed the people gathered in the crowd. Hill questioned what this gigantic new amphitheater symbolized for those gathered in the audience. To answer his own question, Hill quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes.

“‘A mind stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimension,'” Hill said quoting Holmes. “May this renewed amphitheater aid us in that discovery and stretch us so that we may go forth from it to change the world.”

After the guest speakers thanked those who donated and put immense work into renewing the amphitheater, it was time for the ribbon cutting.

“This is a wonderful day and I couldn’t be more honored to stand here on this stage with incredible people before me to be able to say ‘Well done Chautauqua Institution,’ let’s cut the ribbon,” Chautauqua County Executive Vince W. Horrigan said as select individuals took the stage to officially open the amphitheater.

With Beethoven echoing from the stage, guests and residents looked on as the very first performances on the new stage were showcased. In attendance was residents Jim Vance on one side of the crowd and on the other was Edna Tees.

“I always supported it,” Vance said.

Vance said that the people who were against this construction were acting out of selfish ways and not truly realizing the potential of the amphitheater.

Sitting just on the outside of the amphitheater seating, Tees was enjoying the performances from the orchestra.

“I love the amphitheater,” Tees said. “It’s beautiful, it’s safer, (the) sight lines are better … and certainly it can accommodate the latest technology.”

Tees, who rarely misses any of the performances at the amphitheater, is looking forward to coming down during the summer to catch the weekly shows.

Performances on Sunday included renditions of Shakespeare and Beethoven. While the orchestra was the most talked about, there were also aw-striking performances by Sarah Hayes Harkins and James Kopecky, members of the Charlotte Ballet. While the crowd was completely quiet, the performers graced back and forth on the stage as they moved to the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

Later in the afternoon there were also performances by the Music School Festival Orchestra and Chautauqua Opera Studio Artists.

The Chautauqua Amphitheater is now open to the residents of the Chautauqua Institution and visiting guests.

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