With Joshua Stafford on Massey, Chautauqua to close out entertainment series ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’

Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist and Director of Sacred Music Joshua Stafford performs the score to the Charlie Chaplin film “The Gold Rush” on the Massey Memorial Organ July 25, 2021, in the Amphitheater. Dave Munch/Photo Editor

Julia Weber
Staff writer

To wrap up the 2023 season of programming at Chautauqua Institution, a beloved annual program takes the stage: the Massey Organ Movie.

At 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater, Chautauqua will continue its new tradition of a silent film screening with accompaniment.

This year’s selection is the 1923 film “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The classic film explores romance, retaliation and mortality. Starring lengendary actor Lon Chaney, the film is described as being an occasion that will “delight film buffs and new fans alike,” according to the event description.

The classic film centers on Quasimodo, a hunchbacked bell ringer for the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. At the time it was created, the film was one of the most expensive ever, costing more than $1.25 million, according to the American Society of Cinematographers.

“Hunchback of Notre Dame” has “spectacle in the best sense of the word, fine performances, cinematography which set new standards in several respects, steady direction which kept all the sprawling elements of the picture under control, magnificent settings, and faithfulness to the spirit of a literary classic,” the society wrote in a retrospective piece about the film.

The silent film will be accompanied by the Massey Memorial Organ for this special event. Joshua Stafford, who is an award-winning organist and native of Jamestown, New York, will perform the score.

In 2021, Stafford was officially named the Department of Religion’s director of sacred music and Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist after serving in the role in an interim capacity during the 2020 season. Outside of his role at Chautauqua Institution, he serves as the Minister of Music at First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio.


The author Julia Weber

Julia Weber is a rising junior in Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College where she is majoring in journalism and minoring in art history. Originally from Athens, Ohio, this is her first summer in Chautauqua and she is thrilled to cover the theater and dance performances. She serves as the features editor for Ohio University’s All-Campus Radio Network, a student-run radio station and media hub, and she is a former intern for Pittsburgh Magazine. Outside of her professional life, Julia has a newly adopted cat, Griffin, and she is an avid fan of live music and a dedicated ceramicist.