Three young artists share experience at Schools of Fine & Performing Arts


This year saw around 300 students enroll at Chautauqua Institution’s Schools of Fine & Performing Arts across the visual arts, dance, Musical School Festival Orchestra, piano, voice and theater programs. The cost of attending any of these programs ranges between approximately $3,800 and $4,800. However, for approximately 80 percent of the students enrolled, this cost is subsidized or covered by some kind of scholarship.

Thanks to the support of the Chautauqua community, the Institution was able to award more than $732,172 in scholarships this summer, against an overall need of about $1.4 million. Of the total awarded, approximately 51 percent are gifts through the annual Chautauqua Fund designated specifically for scholarship support, 25 percent are from the general operating revenues of Chautauqua Institution and 24 percent are from earnings from scholarship endowments held by the Chautauqua Foundation.

This funding makes Chautauqua’s elite programs accessible on a financial level. Here are the stories of three students, all of whom have received scholarships, and all of whom hope to have long, successful careers working with their crafts.

Anna Grunewald

Returning to the Chautauqua School of Dance for her second year studying ballet, Anna Grunewald is the recipient of this year’s Fayette S. Olmstead Foundation Scholarship.

A ballet major in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Grunewald, 20, has been dancing since she was 3.

“I first went to a serious dance school for classical ballet when I was in fourth grade, and I danced there through high school,” Grunewald said.

Along with her degree in ballet, she is also studying arts management and hopes to pursue a career in arts administration after she finishes dancing. In the short term, however, Grunewald plans to audition for companies this coming year with the hope of landing a traineeship or paying job. If not, she will return to school for her senior year.

“It’s pretty common to start junior year and get experience auditioning and if it doesn’t work out, (to) go back (and finish) senior year,” Grunewald said. “Most girls do leave (Indiana University) with a job.”

While at Chautauqua, Grunewald has enjoyed developing relationships with the different instructors and said she has particularly benefitted from learning how to move between different styles of dance, and do so quickly.

“It’s a completely different mindset and a completely different way of moving the body, and I think that is something so important in current day in companies,” Grunewald said.

Grunewald said the dance program at Chautauqua is unlike many other intensive summer programs she’s been to because of its unique performance opportunities.

“I think many dancers would say the greatest moments are onstage,” Grunewald said. “That feeling of just getting to share with the audience your joy of dance and just really show them everything you’ve got and not hold back. It’s kind of the moment where you get to let go of worrying about what everybody’s thinking and just dance for yourself.”

Having said that, Grunewald said, one of her favorite things about ballet is the day-to-day classes and strict rehearsal process. She describes herself as a perfectionist, and while recognizing that nothing is perfect, she enjoys the process of trying to make her movements as perfect as possible.

“Working on that same thing every day starting with class and working on the same basic concepts and technique and then moving into rehearsals … getting to go back to it every day and find something new to bring to it — I love that,” Grunewald said.

Daniel Kaler

Daniel Kaler, 19, a cellist performing with MSFO, poses for a portrait in Bestor Plaza on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. Kaler was awarded The Chautauqua Women’s Club Scholarship. CAM BUKER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

For Daniel Kaler, it can be difficult to find a moment of quiet at home. His family is particularly musically inclined, between his parents, both violinists, and his two brothers who play the clarinet and violin, respectively. His mother is a first violinist for the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

“There’s never a silent moment in our house,” Kaler said.

Kaler, 19, is a rising junior at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he is a cello performance major. He is currently participating in his first year with the MSFO.

“I really want to be a soloist and play with many many orchestras. I also want to be a teacher,” Kaler said. “I want to do everything.”

He began playing violin at the age of 3, and started learning the cello just one year later after hearing a recording of Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim playing the Elgar Cello Concerto.

“Her sound was so beautiful,” Kaler said. “That’s how I fell in love with the sound of the cello.”

Kaler, who specializes in classical music, believes music has the potential to transcend any language.

“If pictures tell a thousand words, then music probably tells a million — or at least it can,” he said.

A recipient of the Chautauqua Women’s Club Scholarship, Kaler won the Sigma Alpha Iota Competition earlier this summer. He said he has enjoyed working with his friends and colleagues while at Chautauqua, and preparing for all the MSFO concerts has been particularly fun.

“It’s kind of hard for me to decide on any one of those things I want to do because I feel like I’d be missing out on the others,” Kaler said. “I just want to be a complete musician in this way.”

Jean Bernard Cerin

At 31, Jean Bernard Cerin is slightly older than most of his peers at the Voice Program at Chautauqua. He has a doctorate from the University of Michigan in voice performance and currently teaches in the Philadelphia area and performs around the Midwest and Northeast as one half of the professional group Duo 1717.

“It has been particularly special for me, both as a singer and as a teacher of voice,” Cerin said. “As someone who may be a little older than my peers, I really wanted to come here not only to work on my craft, but also to witness … how an elite program functions and how they work with exceptionally talented youth.”

Cerin, who was born and raised in Haiti, considers himself a storyteller first and singer second.

“I think what captivates me with the voice is the stories, because I’m passionate about narrative and the exchange that occurs between an orator and an audience,” Cerin said. “The magic of that … experience of telling a story and seeing them receive the story, I think it’s almost mystical.”

A recipient of the Bonnie Lincoln Voice Scholarship, Cerin said after a busy performance schedule during the past year, his experience at Chautauqua has been a restorative and introspective one.

“The coaches and teachers here ask you what is it that you want, what is it that you need this summer — so that each person’s schedule is actually quite different,” Cerin said. “Some people are dashing from rehearsal to rehearsal and others are having just a couple sessions each day and mindfully applying what they learned from those sessions. I fall in the latter group.”

Duo 1717 is, according to Cerin, a crossover duo that is interested in storytelling and intercultural dialogue.

“I will say that, because I like telling stories, I am most at home on the recital stage,” Cerin said. “I prefer intimate performances with smaller audiences where the connection feels more immediate.”

He said it has been a particular treat for him to work on French repertoire while at Chautauqua.

“As a Francophone myself I have not worked with a lot of French teachers, so that has been very special,” Cerin said.

His non-musical highlight of the summer has been taking part in the Mystic Heart Meditation Program and experiencing a whole gamut of different styles of meditation.

“I think what is different about Chautauqua is that the experience here is much more holistic and much more individual,” Cerin said.

For more information about supporting scholarships for talented students at Chautauqua’s Schools of Fine & Performing Arts, contact Leah Stow, assistant director of the Chautauqua Fund, at 716-357-6405 or

Tags : Anna GrunewaldChautauqua FoundationChautauqua Institution’s Schools of Fine & Performing ArtsDaniel KalerJean Bernard Cerin
Meaghan Wilby

The author Meaghan Wilby

Meaghan Wilby covers the Lincoln Series in Applied Ethics as well as special lectures and programs, and works with the Chautauqua Foundation to cover development activities. Originally from New Zealand, she recently graduated from Allegheny College with a B.A. in English. She played four years of varsity basketball at Allegheny and was an editor for The Campus newspaper for two years. She can be reached at