“The Life of a Chautauqua Scholarship Student” Panel Will be Held Thursday

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Every year after the season ends, Chautauqua Institution begins the process of arranging the auditions for the three schools (art, dance, music), opera Young Artist program and theater conservatory comprising its Schools of Fine & Performing Arts.

Merit-based and need-based student scholarships enable about 300 students possessing world-class skill and talent to study under the schools’ esteemed faculty and to perform on the grounds throughout the summer.

About 60 of those students benefit from funding raised by the Chautauqua Women’s Club.

At 9:15 a.m. July 21 at the CWC, Scholarship Committee Chair Judy Oliver will moderate a panel on “The Life of a Chautauqua Scholarship Student.”

Jen Barczak, who will represent the Program Office, will briefly explain the process of auditioning, selecting, funding, preparing for and welcoming the students. Amanda Bottoms and Mackenzie Melemed — both of whom have performed at Carnegie Hall — will represent the scholarship students and share their personal experiences.

A serious dance student as she was growing up outside Albany, Barczak earned her bachelor’s degree in art history and English at the University at Buffalo. She has served as an instructor for Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet in Jamestown, New York, for nearly four years.

Barczak has also been working for the Institution for over a year.

“I started last summer in the dance office, at the opposite end,” she said.

There she saw the School of Dance students when they first arrived and throughout the summer, so she has first-hand insight into their Chautauqua experience. In September, Barczak joined the Program Office.

Bottoms, a native of the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga who earned her bachelor’s in music performance at SUNY Fredonia, has returned to Chautauqua for her second consecutive season. She is an award-winning mezzo-soprano and rising opera singer in Manhattan.

Under the tutelage of Marlena Malas, chair in the School of Music’s Voice Program, Bottoms is pursuing a master’s in vocal performance at The Juilliard School, where she is a Kovner Fellow and Toulmin Foundation grantee. This summer she will perform the roles of Dritte Dame in The Magic Flute and Maddalena in Rigoletto.

Melemed, a piano prodigy from Newton, Massachusetts, is a fourth-year undergraduate and first-year master’s student in Juilliard’s Accelerated B.M./M.M. Program, where he studies with Robert McDonald. He has performed throughout the U.S., as well as in China, Czech Republic, France and Japan.

In 2003, when he was only 8 years old, Melemed portrayed young Mozart for the “Medical Mystery” series on the Discovery Channel. The following year, he performed for President George W. Bush during a Boston fundraiser, and for five years thereafter, was invited to play at the White House.

Oliver, who hails from Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, and has headed the Scholarship Committee for three years, said that some donors are CWC members and others are not.

“I look at all of these students as future possible Chautauquans,” she said.

This year, the funding for the CWC’s performing arts scholarships came from the following seven sources: private donations, Women’s Club contributions, recital collection baskets, Artists at the Market, the Weisenbaum Fund and the Woodside Regional Fund.


The author Deborah Trefts

Deborah Trefts is a policy scientist with extensive United States, Canadian and additional international experience in conservation. She focuses on the resolution of ocean and freshwater-related challenges and the art and science of deciphering and developing public policy at all levels from global to local.