The Chautauqua Symphony and the Chautauqua Institution are finally again in harmony.
After nine months of bargaining, the Musicians of the Chautauqua Symphony voted to ratify a new four-year agreement with the Chautauqua Institution. The agreement increases compensation by more than 12 percent over four years, and maintains the ensemble’s current size of 74 members.
The turmoil that has surrounded the orchestra since summer 2016 made news around the world because the orchestra has been a central part of the historic Chautauqua Institution for 88 years. Controversy surrounding the plans for demolition of the Chautauqua Amphitheater added to fears that the Institution's administration no longer valued its heritage.
"Not much, apparently, can be done to save Chautauqua from the myopia of its leaders," News columnist Donn Esmonde wrote in September 2015.
The old Amphitheater is gone, but the orchestra's musicians see a bright future thanks to their new contract.
"The Chautauqua Symphony is an indispensable part of community life for thousands of residents and visitors each year," the musicians said Jan. 16 in a statement announcing the agreement. "Our audience wrote many hundreds of letters voicing their support, withheld donations until this dispute was resolved and cheered us on through these challenging times. We are extremely fortunate to serve such an engaged and supportive community, and these generous acts of advocacy will never be forgotten."
The musicians also stated: "With a newly constructed amphitheater opening this summer, the orchestra can look ahead with renewed enthusiasm to the programmatic excellence and commitment that this agreement signifies."
The orchestra performs three different symphonic programs each week and provides orchestral support to opera and ballet companies in residence. Orchestra members also serve as instructors for the college music student ensemble and perform chamber music throughout the summer months.