Saturday night in the Amphitheater, we will celebrate musical theater as the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, led by our own Stuart Chafetz, joins with the Chautauqua Opera Company’s Opera Apprentices and Studio Artists for a production they title, “Water Matters: Broadway — The Great Wet Way.” The music is from Gilbert and Sullivan, Kern and Hammerstein, Sondheim and Weidman, Lerner and Lowe — a “who’s who” of American musical theater. The extracts or the works’ themes relate to water. The vocal talents on display will be the eight Apprentice Artists who will carry the individual roles and the 18 Studio Artists supplying the choral work. All of those talented musicians were selected for this summer’s program by the opera company’s Artistic and General Director, Jay Lesenger, and his veteran team. Lesenger has a genuine gift for recognizing the combination of vocal talent and dramatic interpretation. He leads the company through an astonishingly rigorous eight-week schedule of rehearsals, recitals, opera productions, cabarets and performances such as Saturday night. It is the oldest continuous summer opera company in the country and a point of artistic pride for this community. Please join us for this joyful, beautiful and stylish concert in the Amphitheater.
“Two sticks down to one, I say,” said Stuart Chafetz, principal timpanist of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.
Saturday, he will set down his mallets and pick up his baton to conduct the Opera Young Artists Pops Concert with the CSO at 8:15 p.m. in the Amphitheater.
It has been a busy week for Chafetz. Between racing to CSO rehearsal in the morning, to opera rehearsal in the afternoon, and then back to the Amp for CSO concerts in the evening, he barely has time to breathe. But Chafetz does not let it show.
“My name is Katie, and I like to endure, but I prefer to prevail. And I believe that if we each do what we’re capable of, we can each do pretty much anything,” Katie Spotz said.
Spotz spoke Friday in the Hall of Philosophy at Week Four’s final Interfaith Lecture based on the theme, “Water: Life Force/Life Source.” Spotz is an American endurance adventurer, a safe-water activist, a world-record achiever, and she is only 24. During her talk, titled “For the Love of Water,” Spotz discussed how she became an endurance adventurer, the details of her famous row across the Atlantic, and the goal that propels her: to bring clean water to those without.
The Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor suggested that after this week at Chautauqua, you might want to adopt ‘water’ as your word as you learn more about it. Her sermon title was “Even A Cup,” and her scripture was Matthew 10:40-42.
Taylor recalled the scene in the film “The Miracle Worker” when Annie Sullivan dragged Helen Keller to the water pump and thrust her hand under the running water.
“With the stuff gushing out of the pump, Helen finally got it. This was the same stuff that fell from the sky, or from her eyes, was in her bath. It was all the same stuff, and it had a name, and it changed her life,” Taylor said. “The name was water, and as she spelled it back to Annie, all the lights came on. She would never see it or hear it, but it was the beginning; it was the living word that carried her to other living words.”
Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor spoke at Thursday’s 9:15 a.m. Devotional Hour. Her topic was “Bathing Deep,” and her text was John 13:1-9. She described a class she taught with a Presbyterian minister named Liz. They were teaching about how faith is learned by what we do with our bodies.
“We talked about the usual rituals of baptism, talked about communion, talked about pilgrimages,” Taylor said. “We thought we would wrap up the week by doing a wordless foot washing — the act itself would teach us about our bodies and faith.
Islam is a diverse and fluid faith. Its history of growth across geographical boundaries — and invisible cultural lines — catalyzed the creation of a variety of views related to water, Ali Asani said.
On Thursday, in the fourth Interfaith Lecture of the Week Four series themed “Water: Life Force/Life Source,” Ali Asani examined the role of water within the Islamic tradition, through an analysis of sacred texts including the Quran and the Hadith. He also explored the role of water in the mystical writings of Muslim poets in a lecture titled “Water as Substance and Symbol in Islam.”
Asani is a professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic religion and cultures at Harvard University.
On a night when the Amphitheater floor felt like a burn barrel and the air was thick enough to chew, the notion of a waterborne outing had obvious appeal. So was a hydraulically themed program that began with Ravel’s “Une barque sur l’océan” and ended with Debussy’s “La Mer.”
And with his crisp, white dinner jacket and black pants, conductor Michael Stern lacked only the epaulets and yachting cap of jovial Captain Merrill Stubing of “The Love Boat.” He was a charming host, too, expressing his delight at returning to the Amp after an absence of 26 years. Can it have been that long? Stern, born in 1959, easily looks 15 years younger.
In that interval, he has guest-conducted widely, founded a contemporary music ensemble in Tennessee and held music directorships in Europe and United States. For the past seven years, he has led the Kansas City Symphony but also spent four years as permanent guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, which gives his Debussy and Ravel a certain authority.
Two years ago, Katie Spotz spent 70 days alone at sea with little more than a pair of oars, 300 chocolate bars and determination.
On March 14, 2010, after 3,038 miles, she became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and the first American to row solo from Africa to South America. By campaigning her journey, Spotz — who was 22 at the time — raised more than $100,000 for Blue Planet Network, a nonprofit organization that provides sustainable, safe drinking water to people throughout the world.
Spotz will share hair-raising stories of sharks, fires and 20-foot waves from her journey, as well as her mission and motivation behind the row, at the 2 p.m. Interfaith Lecture Friday in the Hall of Philosophy.
Chautauqua community member Subagh Singh Khalsa will present “Water, a Very Personal Matter: Exploring and Preserving the Watershed” for the Chautauqua Men’s Club at 9 a.m. Friday at the United Methodist House.
“In 2006, the year after Katrina hit New Orleans, I stood on a hill top near here, looked down on Chautauqua Lake and realized I could navigate by kayak from Chautauqua to the Gulf of Mexico,” Subagh said. “After some deliberation I decided to do the trip, and did, raising money for Habitat for Humanity and the Watershed Conservancy.
“Along the way I saw the degradation of the rivers and, when I returned, I began exploring our watershed, discovering here the source of some of that degradation.”
There could be an international war over water in our future.
Don Belt, current contributing writer for and former senior foreign editor of National Geographic magazine, gives that warning not in an ominous, threatening way, but from the perspective of a man who has spent more than 30 years experiencing international life in more than 65 countries through the lens of ordinary people.
“Conflicts over water are historic. They’re long-standing,” Belt said. “But climate change has made it even more imperative that we figure out ways to resolve these problems before they erupt into some sort of war.”
Belt will present on those water conflicts — specifically conflicts in Bangladesh, Iraq and along the Jordan River — at 10:45 a.m. Friday in the Amphitheater. He is the capstone lecturer on National Geographic’s week: “Water Matters.”