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Chautauqua art divisions unite for Special Inter-arts Matinee

When Vice President of Performing and Visual Arts Deborah Sunya Moore describes the student programs at Chautauqua Institution, she likes to highlight the diversity of disciplines on the grounds.

“For me, if I could choose a slogan for our program in music, it would be ‘More than a music festival,’” Moore said. “For art, it would be ‘More than an art school.’ ”

At 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29, in the Amphitheater, the Special Inter-arts Matinée will bring to the stage fusions and collaborations between different art forms and directors.

“I think as an artist, we inspire each other,” said Moore, a percussionist herself. “I think that musicians can be inspired by dance, dance can be inspired by theater, Music School Festival Orchestra players can be inspired by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and the CSO can be inspired by the enthusiasm of the students.”

The matinee will open with MSFO brass musicians playing Giovanni Gabrieli’s Canzon per sonar noni toni under the baton of Yue Bao, the 2018 David Effron Conducting Fellow.

Then, Anna Gerberich and Pete Walker — alumni of the Charlotte Ballet — will be dancing a duo to Rachmaninoff’s “Spring Waters,” performed by the CSO under the baton of Maestro Rossen Milanov.

Voice student Jessica Niles, who sang the role of Adina in L’elisir d’amore on July 17 and July 19 in Fletcher Music Hall, will showcase classical singing style with Rachmaninoff’s “Wild Dreams,” op. 38, No. 5.

Right after Niles’ performance, voice student Merissa Beddows will be singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz,” originally sung by Judy Garland. This song falls under the crossover genre of classical and musical theater — a genre, Beddows said, that a lot of people love.

“Judy Garland is a great classic American songbook singer and actress. … I think that her voice and her acting work in tandem together,” Beddows said. “(That’s why it) was so special when she sang ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ when she was 16.”

The combination of singing and acting is not the only special thing in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for Beddows. She said it is a “universal” and “hopeful song.”

“It’s just that kind of longing to either escape, or to be in a … happier place than you are now,” Beddows said. “It’s a hopeful song. It’s beautiful.”

John Milbauer and Nicola Melville, co-chairs of the Piano Program, will play “Fuga y Final” by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, who popularized the Argentine tango on a global level.

Milbauer said playing Piazzolla’s tango music is “a nice choice” for the matinee because tango has its roots in dance as well as music. Piazzolla’s music is also very popular with audiences.

“If people imagine tango that they’ve heard in films or hear on radios these days, more than half of the time, it’s tango by Astor Piazzolla,” Milbauer said. “He’s responsible for what’s called ‘new tango.’ … It’s not pure tango, but it’s tango that travels well and can be played on any number of instruments, such as — in this case — two pianos.”

Chautauqua Theater Company will present a snippet from its traveling production of As You Like It. Conservatory actor Jennifer Holcombe will perform one of Rosalind’s monologues from the play’s third act and said she hopes Chautauquans who missed the June 24 performance on Bestor Plaza will be inspired to see the full Shakespeare show in Mayville, Jamestown or Lakewood.

“I’m hoping that people will be getting a little taste at the Amp and then be like, ‘Oh, you know what, we should go to Mayville to see the show,’ or ‘We should leave the grounds to go see the show,’ ” Holcombe said.

Holcombe said she is excited to join the long list of talented artists who have performed in the Amp.

“To be able to be among that list, even for two minutes, is such a treat and such a wonderful honor,” she said.

The CSO will team up with the School of Dance to perform selections from Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird.” In one movement, Apprentice Dancer Melanie Cuddeback will depict the titular Firebird through choreography by Jean- Pierre Bonnefoux, artistic director of the School of Dance.

“We have always gotten along really well with the other artistic departments over the years. The festival is a really unique opportunity, and we are glad to be a part of it,” Bonnefoux said. “We are also excited about having one of our dancers be able to perform to Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird,’ which is a very important part of our repertoire.”

Young Artists from Chautauqua Opera Company and students from the Voice Program will merge to perform “Make our garden grow,” the final number from the opera company’s current production of Candide.

During “Make our garden grow,” the acrylic, oil and charcoal piece “Equality” by Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution Artistic Director Don Kimes will be displayed.

According to Moore, Kimes will come onto the Amp stage during the matinee. Kimes crafted the first version of “Equality” back in 1986—his first year at Chautauqua.

“I pulled it out last year and started working on it again, and have completely reconfigured it,” Kimes said.

Kimes considers the piece a “bookend” because after this summer, he’ll retire as VACI artistic director.

Steven Osgood, general and artistic director of Chautauqua Opera, said the matinee would be “truly unique.”

“There’s no other place in the country that has his confluence of all these different elements,” he said.

Having both an opera company composed of young professionals and a voice program filled with students who sing opera can be confusing, Osgood said, and that’s OK.

“It can be confusing, and maybe we’re actually making it more confusing by collaborating, but that’s even better. That is what’s great about it,” Osgood said. “There’s no other chance for us to have that many singers involved in something, and to find ways that we can talk together and work together is what it’s all about.”

Staff writers Georgia Davis, Kirby Davis, Lexie Erdos, Justin Kelly and Kevin C. Vestal contributed to this report.

Tags : chautauqua institutionChautauqua Symphony OrchestraDeborah Sunya MooreMusic School Festival OrchestraPerforming and Visual ArtsSpecial Inter-arts Matinée
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The author Flora Junhua Deng

Flora Junhua Deng is covering the School of Music for The Chautauquan Daily this summer. She is a rising senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is studying journalism and music. A native of China, Flora is not a huge fan of coffee but likes tea. She is a cat person but also loves dogs.

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