Monthly Archives: June 2012

‘Our Elegant Universe’ connects quantum mechanics and relativity

‘Our Elegant Universe’ connects quantum mechanics and relativity

Next summer at Chautauqua, it’s not rocket science — just particle physics, a few mathematical models that try to connect quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity, and perhaps a splash of microbiology.

“Our Elegant Universe,” the theme for Week One of the 2013 Season, takes its name from the book and television series by Brian Greene, who will keynote the week with a lecture on Monday, June 24. The theoretical physicist and Columbia professor is at the forefront of his field in research, but also a popular speaker, host of his own PBS special and the author of many books, including the young adult science fiction novel Icarus at the Edge of Time. He even made a featured cameo on the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory.”

Greene’s skills at communicating complicated topics to audiences of all scientific backgrounds have won him the admiration of many, including Chautauqua Institution President Tom Becker.

‘OK, so now what?’: Kolbell examines the Lazarus story

‘OK, so now what?’: Kolbell examines the Lazarus story

For most of Week One, the Rev. Erik Kolbell presided over the morning worship services, but he served as chaplain Friday. Outside Chautauqua, Kolbell serves as the First Minister of Social Justice at Riverside Church in New York City. He is a clinical psychotherapist and the author of six books.

His sermon, “OK, So Now What?” reflected on the story of Lazarus’ miraculous return to life in John 11:32-41.

There is a multiplicity of approaches to the story of Lazarus, “each one as fraught and freighted as the next,” Kolbell said. Rather than examine the text of the scripture historically, Kolbell analyzed the story from Lazarus’ point of view.

“What did it mean to him, to get a second chance?” Kolbell said, as he encouraged the audience to imagine Lazarus’ re-entrance into life. “Lazarus might have used this opportunity to make some real changes.”

Returning writers use Chautauqua to funnel inspiration

Returning writers use Chautauqua to funnel inspiration

Ann Hood and James Armstrong, the Writers’ Center writers-in-residence for Week Two, return to kickstart Chautauquans into summer by incorporating setting into prose and news into poetry.

Both writers will begin the week with readings of their work at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on the Alumni Hall porch.

“They are able to plug into Chautauqua more quickly than someone who hasn’t been here,” said Clara Silverstein, director of the Writers’ Center. “I think they both seem to really understand what Chautauqua’s all about.”

Zachary Lewis: North Carolina Dance Theatre opens summer dance season with ‘rich, satisfying program’

Zachary Lewis: North Carolina Dance Theatre opens summer dance season with ‘rich, satisfying program’

Not all ballet dancers can act, but the good ones do so really well. Case in point: North Carolina Dance Theatre’s Thursday night performance.

A feast of strong acting through dance and a generally weighty program, the concert — the first Dance Salon of the 2012 Season — was a brilliant reminder of how special the results can be when an artist not only has a firm grasp on his or her physical duties, but also portrays a credible, interesting character.

The ideal of ballet acting was reached during the second half of the four-part Amphitheater program, in a short but intense scene called “Queen,” by Sasha Janes, associate artistic director of the Charlotte-based company led by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux.

Prestige, Community, Individual Development — even in a land undeveloped

Prestige, Community, Individual Development — even in a land undeveloped

Having arrived at Chautauqua to assist then-director Scott Brown in 1905, Arthur E. Bestor assumed the title himself in 1907 — in a kind of administration round robin — when George E. Vincent was appointed Chautauqua Institution president. All three men associated with one another through the University of Chicago.

The Institution had enjoyed considerable growth and success in the early part of the 20th century, thanks in part to the efforts of Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dr. W.H. Hickman. Also, the era had brought to Chautauqua stability of personnel and fiscal perpetuity.

In her book, Three Taps of the Gavel: The Chautauqua Story, Alfreda L. Irwin wrote that Hickman wanted “to bring Chautauqua expenditures fully within the limits of its income, … clean up all debts except bonded debt, … complete the buildings that had been started and push with vigor the Commercial Block enterprise, … (and see) the strongest men in the country on the Board of Trustees, men who would not only serve, but who could and would give largely to the various phases of the larger life of Chautauqua.”

Legion Band to kick off Fourth celebrations

Legion Band to kick off Fourth celebrations

On Sunday at 2:30 p.m., the Amphitheater will resound with American favorites as the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas, Post 264, performs its technically challenging and crowd-rousing marches, dances and show tunes.

The American Legion Band will play patriotic songs to start the Fourth of July celebrations, and display the breadth of their repertoire with classics from Gershwin and Tchaikovsky.

“We try to program for family entertainment,” said David Abrahamian, the band’s president.

There will be a little something for everyone.

Becker outlines strategic initiatives at first porch discussion

Becker outlines strategic initiatives at first porch discussion

Chautauqua Institution President Thomas M. Becker said the Institution’s strategic plan extends its horizons to 2018 at Wednesday morning’s first Trustee Porch Discussion of the season.

“The plan itself requires that we continue to study and continue to discover the key elements to this and then respond to them accordingly,” Becker said.

Early stages of the plan, adopted by the board of trustees, allowed the Institution to learn lessons about the value of cost and revenue that were garnered from the deep analysis, he said.

Expanding the ‘Beloved Community’ through love, forgiveness

Expanding the ‘Beloved Community’ through love, forgiveness

“We will not be non-denominational; we will be all-denominational.” So declared John Heyl Vincent and Lewis Miller, the founders of Chautauqua, in 1874.

“It is time to embrace world religions,” said the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, director of Chautauqua’s Department of Religion. “Some say we are late getting at it, but it is an essential journey that Chautauqua needs to be about. It is about peace in the world.”

Campbell’s words were at the heart of the Department of Religion’s interfaith conference, titled “Expanding the Beloved Community through Love and Forgiveness,” held June 11 and 12 at the Athenaeum Hotel. The event was co-sponsored by the Fetzer Institute of Kalamazoo, Mich.

‘Abstraction’ exhibits 15 drawings that ‘command the room’

‘Abstraction’ exhibits 15 drawings that ‘command the room’

Besides, it’s smart. There is pertinence, a point of view.

Still, it is not the Big Picture Brass Band promised by the unequivocal declaration of “Abstraction in America, Part II — 1970s and 1980s.” That is the title driving the exhibition in the Strohl Art Center now, a collaboration with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

The showing, after all, is of only 15 drawings — all on paper — selected from the vaults of the Buffalo gallery. It is a friendly, often homespun gathering of wonderful ideas and traces of genius, and a primer on the basic values of picture making. This glimpse through the curtain of history resonates through our culture of visual thinking, moving across color and into deep pools of multilingual blacks, acknowledging the smudges of the artists’ hands — left as evidence of soul and its creative spark — while prompting discussion and appreciation about art and the terms of its making.