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Enyeribe Ibegwam wins 4th annual Janus Prize for ‘After School Hours’

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SARAH VEST – STAFF WRITER

Ibegwam

In ancient Roman mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings, transitions and doorways. He is typically depicted as having two faces, one looking forward and the other looking back. 

In the same way Janus’ looked to the past and the future, the winner of the annual Chautauqua Janus Prize should — according to Michael I. Rudell Director of Literary Arts Sony Ton-Aime — simultaneously be grounded in the traditional and “paving the way for future writers.”

This year, the prize — funded by Chautauquans Barbara and Twig Branch and awarded now for the fourth time to an emergent writer who has not yet published a full manuscript — goes to a short fiction story titled “After School Hours” by Enyeribe Ibegwam.

There will be a reception at 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday, July 30 on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform to honor Ibegwam, featuring remarks by Rion Amilcar Scott, one of the judges. 

Ibegwam’s story follows two Nigerian-American boys living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. The story deals with parental expectations and the kinds of punishments that occur when their expectations are not met.

Ibegwam was raised in Lagos, Nigeria, and has been awarded a PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. 

His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in PEN America Best Debut Stories 2019, Prairie Schooner, The Southampton Review, Auburn Avenue, The Georgia Review and Transition Magazine. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  

“I think what I’m trying to do is sort of take from the past and use it to, in many ways, compare the future. So I’m almost like a judge in everything I look at,” Ibegwam said, in keeping with the idea of the two-faced god. “I wanted to compare, that’s how I see the past and the future.”

Scott said that this year “there was very stiff competition” and a number of “beautiful stories.” However, for him it “wasn’t a hard choice.” 

In a deviation from the traditional narrative structure, Ibegwam chose to write in the first-person plural, meaning the whole story is told using the word “we” in place of “I.” He made this choice because he feels that “when you write a story about a group of people, you’re really talking about the singular, but you’re referencing the plural.”

“It’s sort of musical when you say, ‘We do this, we do that,’ ” Ibegwam said. “Everybody’s a culprit, nobody escapes the wrath of a punishment.”

Ton-Aime said that he loves “After School Hours” because of how it challenges the typical immigrant narrative depicted in media, of striving for the classic American Dream.

“It’s such an interesting thing because you get to see immigrants struggling with … the idea of parenting and also the idea of navigating America, in a way that is anchored in the home country,” Ton-Aime said. “It really makes it a bold declaration when it comes to writing about the immigrant life.”

With this story, Ibegwam was trying to make a contribution to the narrative of, as he describes it, what it means to “be hyphenated.” 

Ibegwam was on the shortlist for the 2020 Janus Prize and has a friend who was on the shortlist this year and last year. He says that knowing the others who made the shortlist write “very fine work” makes him feel as though his own work has “merit.”

“It’s an incredibly affecting story. The piece reminds us of how confusing and lonely the process of coming of age and coming into awareness as an adult is,” Scott said. “… Good stories often make us sit in silence when we reach the final words, and I definitely had that feeling.”

Joe Grifasi, Mark Linn-Baker to stage reading of Lewis Black’s ‘The Deal’ in Performance Pavilion

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NICK DANLAG – STAFF WRITER

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Joe Grifasi and Lewis Black have been friends since they went to the Yale School of Drama in the 1970s. Grifasi has appeared in one of Black’s stand-up specials, “Red, White and Screwed,” as well as in movies like “Batman Forever,” “Presumed Innocent” and “Natural Born Killers.”

And at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 29 at the Performance Pavilion on Pratt, Grifasi and Mark Linn-Baker — an actor and director, and another friend of Black’s — will give a special staged reading of Black’s one-act play The Deal. This play, which is for adult audiences due to language, is about two men, both insanely rich, intensely negotiating a deal — a deal beyond both of their comprehension because of its immense scope. 

“A monstrously insane waltz of give and take in a world that we can only know in dreams or nightmares,” according to the synopsis of the play. “(It is) a deeply dark and sharp satire about the Real art of the deal.”

The performance will be followed by a Q-and-A with Grifasi, Black and Linn-Baker. Black, who gave a Week Five special performance in the Amphitheater, is also leading a Chautauqua Lecture Series Master Class Friday with Grifasi and Linn-Baker.

“It’s particularly exciting to also highlight Mr. Black as a playwright,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, senior vice president and chief program officer (interim) and vice president of performing and visual arts. “I’m thrilled that the staged reading of The Deal will occur in the Pavilion. From speaker to comedian to playwright, Mr. Black has much to offer this curious community as we walk into our week about authentic voice.”

According to Black’s website, he fell in love with theater at the age of 12. This play is one of more than 40 that Black has written. 

Early in his career, he was the playwright-in-residence at the West Bank Cafe’s downstairs dinner theater, the Laurie Beechman Theatre, where he helped develop more than 1,000 plays, including works by Aaron Sorkin, who created “The West Wing,” and Alan Ball, who created “American Beauty.”

Cinema to screen National Geographic elephant documentary, CWC to host meet-and-greet for producer Katie Carpenter

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DEBORAH TREFTS – STAFF WRITER

Carpenter

According to Les Standiford, whose book Battle for the Big Top was published in June, after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus retired elephants from their shows in May 2016, attendance dropped so precipitously that the Circus folded.

Americans are enamored with live elephants. So much so that the public interest and fundraising commercials that World Wildlife Fund is currently airing on television focus almost exclusively on them. Its website echoes these ads, urging viewers to “make a symbolic adoption (of an African or Asian elephant) in support of WWF’s global efforts” to “help protect the future of nature.”

Keeping these magnificent megafauna alive in their natural habitats is a monumental challenge, as environmental filmmaker Katie Carpenter can attest. She has co-written and produced two PBS films about elephants for National Geographic TV.

“Battle for the Elephants” is an hour-long documentary that spotlights the poaching of elephants in East Africa for their tusks, the market forces behind the illegal ivory trade, and the efforts being made to save them from extinction. 

Winner of the 2013 Jackson Wild festival prize for Best Conservation Program, this film merited a sequel, “Warlords of Ivory.”

At 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 28 at the Chautauqua Cinema, “Battle for the Elephants” will be screened — free of charge — as a Films for Change Benefit Special.

All proceeds will support Big Life Foundation, which maintains several wildlife-related programs, including those for human-elephant conflict mitigation, anti-poaching, wildlife crime/anti-trafficking and community education.

For admission, tickets are to be reserved in advance online at chautauquacinema.com.

Following the screening today, there will be a wine and cheese reception for Carpenter at 4:30 p.m. under the tent on the front lawn of the Chautauqua Women’s Club.

During this gathering, Carpenter will speak briefly about her involvement in the writing and production of “Battle for the Elephants.”

“We’re going to make the reception into a roundtable charrette,” Carpenter said. “We’ll be talking about the issues that have come up. It will be nonpolitical and free-sciency.”

Among those issues: what concerned Chautauquans can do to assist in keeping increasing numbers of African and Asian elephants alive and well.

To attend this ticketed event, sign up online at www.chautauquawomensclub.org.

Drama & precision: Grammy Award-winning Apollo’s Fire orchestra to take Amp stage with expressive Baroque performance

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MAX ZAMBRANO – STAFF WRITER

Apollo’s Fire

Apollo’s Fire, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, will be bringing Baroque back to Chautauqua at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 27 in the Amphitheater.

Tonight’s performance, titled “Apollo’s Fire: Love in Venice,” will include works such as “Summer Concerto” and “La Folia (Madness)” by Antonio Vivaldi, “Che si può fare” by Barbara Strozzi, and works from Claudio Monteverdi.

Baroque was a style of music and other arts from the early 1600s to the 1740s, with popularity spanning into the 1800s in the Iberian Peninsula. 

“What we do is bring Baroque music to life in the way it was fresh and new when it was composed,” said Apollo’s Fire founder and musical director Jeannette Sorrell. “A lot of that is about moving the emotional moods of the listeners. That’s kind of what we’re obsessed with in Apollo’s Fire. That’s what we will be trying to do.”

Sorrell said people might expect a more academic performance, but Apollo’s Fire intends to bring the opposite of that.

“The way Baroque music was performed and meant to be performed in the 17th and 18th centuries was a lot about being expressive and emotional with music,” she said. “That priority got lost in the 20th century, and people lost sight on how to play Baroque music.” 

Part of Apollo’s Fire mission, she said, is learning and performing Baroque music the way it was meant to be played.

“We’re kind of like detectives — unearthing the way music was meant to be played originally and trying to bring it to life for people,” Sorrell said.

Apollo’s Fire has played around the world, including several European and United States tours. The ensemble has performed on the BBC multiple times, and it has played for sold-out crowds in Wigmore Hall, the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Carnegie Hall.

In 2019, Apollo’s Fire won a Grammy in the “Classical Vocal Solo” category for its Songs of Orpheus album.

Still, the group is looking forward to playing in Chautauqua’s Amphitheater.

“Playing in an amp is always extra fun because the experience of fresh air, and being closer to nature just adds an extra element of joy and brings people together as a community,” she said. “We love that.”

Apollo’s Fire is a particularly special ensemble, Sorrell said, because each musician in the group is handpicked.

“We’re all very much on the same page about wanting to play with emotional expression and drama, and bringing that sense of emotional commitment to the music in a way that really translates for an audience,” she said.

In other orchestras, Sorrell said it’s possible to have musicians from different backgrounds and experiences that clash with one another. Apollo’s Fire musicians, instead, are picked so there is minimal clashing. 

“We can achieve a really high level of precision because we all have the same approach to the music,” she said. 

Sorrell loves the ambiance at Chautauqua and is excited to return.

“Chautauqua has such a great atmosphere,” she said. “We always love to be a part of it.”

Krista and Paul Ritacco to discuss working in Washington for CWC talk

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DEBORAH TREFTS – STAFF WRITER

The Ritaccos

The Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the subdued inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris focused all eyes on Washington, D.C. this winter. The heightened security around the Capitol Building and White House dampened the allure of this city, built to inspire awe. 

For Chautauquans Krista and Paul Ritacco, who reside within the 64-mile Capital Beltway that surrounds Washington, D.C., its appeal has not waned. At 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, July 27 in the tent on the Chautauqua Women’s Club’s front lawn, they will share personal “Tales of Washington.” (The rain date is Wednesday at the same time and place.) 

“This will be the first time we’ve spoken about Washington together,” Krista said. “We will basically be trying to lift a veil on what life is really like working in Washington. There are a lot of misperceptions, like in Hollywood. What is it really like in the White House and on Capitol Hill?”

The couple met while they were both working for Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., who represented the district in which Krista grew up. She had recently earned her bachelor of arts in history from the University of Colorado at Boulder; Paul was an alumnus of Georgetown University, class of 1986.  

“I’m a local boy, born and raised,” Paul said.

Krista said most of the office was from Southern California.

“I married the one from D.C.,” she said. “It was my first job in Washington.” 

After interning for Calvert, Krista went to work for The Stuart Stevens Group, a political consulting firm that developed strategy for Republican political campaigns.

“(The year) 1994 was when we didn’t lose a race, including Tom Ridge’s, from Erie, Pennsylvania,” Krista said. “It was an exciting job seeing politics from a different angle than from the federal government side.” 

Based in San Diego, her hometown, she helped run the Republican National Convention in August 1996.

“Things change every two years in Congress,” Krista said. “There’s a lot of transition. Stuart Stevens was on the election cycle, so it was time to move on. I did lobbying in a law firm and saw another side.”

Because the opportunities for non-lawyers were not as great as for lawyers, Krista said she left the Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease Law Firm and joined the American Continental Group, a lobbying and consulting firm, as business manager.

“I didn’t go to Austin, (Texas) and volunteer for (George W.) Bush,” Krista continued. “But he chose to have his transition office in D.C., so I had an opportunity to volunteer, and took some time off from my job. It was the best decision I made. … I started with the new administration on the first day.”

In the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education, Krista served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Evaluation.

As the director of the White House Counselor’s Office, she was involved with all aspects of the president’s strategic communications planning, as well as policy formulation and implementation in the service of his agenda. This entailed coordination with the White House Press Office, and offices that dealt with communications, media affairs, and global communications. She also established and managed the White House’s speechwriting operation.

“The responsibility is what I really enjoyed,” Krista said. “In communications and speechwriting, every day was different and exciting. Even if you knew what the day would be like, the world had other plans. It was a dream job.” 

Paul described his career in government and business as “eclectic.” In 1989, through Georgetown University’s program at the Warsaw School of Economics, he studied with the economist and statesman, Leszek Balcerwicz, whom he said was “the architect of Poland’s reforms.”

“When I studied abroad, I studied in Communist Poland because I’m half Polish, and quite frankly, it was different,” Paul said. “It was absolutely fascinating. I can tell you it was one of the seminal experiences in my life. … Now we’ve been able to go back. I’ve lectured at the Warsaw School of Economics and Jagiellonian University in Krakow. (Pope) John Paul II studied there. It’s one of the oldest universities in the world.”  

During President George H. W. Bush’s trip to Poland in the summer of 1989, he worked with ABC News in Warsaw. According to Paul, his experience in Poland cemented his “interest in government and political science after previously pursuing a career in medicine.”

That said, when he was 22 years old he began working with Discovery – known then as The Discovery Channel.

“We were the largest running vendor,” Paul said. “So when you watch Discovery and see Morgan Freeman, I basically created the rate structure for narrators. … It hadn’t been addressed. … As Discovery grew, I stuck with it.”

Because his work with Discovery and National Geographic necessitated contracts, nine years later he entered Georgetown University Law Center, where he earned his juris doctor degree. 

Although Paul said he is a businessman first and foremost, having launched “multiple enterprises in the political and entertainment arenas over the past 30 years,” recently he “completed 23 years of government service having been a chief of staff and senior adviser to more than 30 members of the U.S. Congress.” 

He began his congressional work in 1991 as a legislative aide for the House Republican Caucus.

Paul said he “shared doing multiple work for a number of members,” having “worked in both the traditional congressional office as well as leadership offices within the U.S. Congress.”

In addition to working for Calvert, for instance, he served as the chief of staff for Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., a supporter of term limits who in 2017 was succeeded by his brother, Brian Fitzpatrick, for whom Paul worked as a senior adviser. He also advised “numerous committee chairmen,” as well as Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. when McCarthy was the House Majority Leader.

Among Paul’s responsibilities were foreign policy, the Helsinki Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, terror financing, PFAS (chemical substance) issues, defense, financial services, campaign finance and the budget.

“I’ve really done a lot of stuff on national security and the military,” Paul said. “That, and the process. Especially overseas, they don’t understand our process, so I share it, and (in doing so) learn more about our process.”

As part of various Congressional Study Groups, he has traveled to Germany, Belgium, France, China, Japan and other countries. And he has worked with the U.S. military throughout the Pacific and Atlantic.

Currently Paul is the president of Campaign Financial Services, which advises on and manages campaign compliance for senior U.S. political leadership.

According to its website, Campaign Financial Services is a “campaign finance and consulting firm that specializes in providing a full range of financial services for federal campaigns, political action committees and party committees.”

Separately, CFS manages entertainment projects with major companies, including National Geographic and Discovery International.

“We do a lot of stuff with narratives,” Paul said. “We saw some opportunities. We do a lot of work on political ads for political consulting firms. There are two separate divisions — entertainment and politics. We meet in Washington.”

Having himself run as a Republican candidate for Congress, Paul has gained a unique perspective on strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. federal government. Krista’s experience as a former lobbyist, political campaigner and White House staffer will enable this Washington couple to present a fairly comprehensive picture — from the Republican vantage point — of what it’s really been like to work in D.C. over the past three decades. 

Chautauqua Hospice’s Shauna Anderson to discuss palliative care in county for CWC Tent Talk

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DEBORAH TREFTS – STAFF WRITER

Anderson

When it comes to hospice and palliative care, Chautauqua County has come a long way since the 1980s and even the 2010s. That’s a boon for year-round, seasonal and week-long residents and visitors.

Long before COVID-19, families and friends experienced the angst of not knowing where to turn for compassionate, knowledgeable and skilled support and care when loved ones were dying or seriously ill at Chautauqua. The pandemic has further complicated and exacerbated this anxiety and grief.

“People say, ‘What’s wrong with me that I can’t get through this?’ ” said Shauna Anderson, president and CEO of Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care. “I say, ‘Nothing.’ People are coming from all over. This is a hard time for everyone. Our bereavement coordinator says that the outlier is more the norm as we get through the pandemic.”

At 4:30 p.m. on Monday, July 26 in the tent on the front lawn of the Chautauqua Women’s Club, Anderson will give a talk titled “40 Years of Caring for Chautauqua.”

In addition to being a registered nurse, she is certified in gerontological nursing, in hospice and palliative care, and in animal-assisted activities and interventions.

Regarding the latter certification, from the University of Denver, CHPC provides pet care support for patients who are pet owners, and Anderson has been able to have 45 patients in wheelchairs in the pasture of the alpaca farm where she and her husband live.

“Hospice and palliative care are about quality of life,” she said. “It’s not necessarily a place. We’ve never had one (for patients to stay in). We’ve gone to homes, and when people are homeless, to cars. It’s a philosophy, not a place.”

Nevertheless, CHPC’s five-bed Star Hospice House is on target to open in late 2021 despite the challenges of COVID-19.

Particularly vulnerable patients no longer need to be transferred to other communities, some far away. Instead, there will be room each year for over 200 individuals who have no family support or whose care needs are too complex to be managed at home.  

“We let the community know of our need,” Anderson said. “It’s been a dream of the county and Hospice for 30 years. Someone reached out to the woman in the house next door (to our Lakewood office) and now we have a campus. … We will probably have to add beds either here or in the north county.”

According to Anderson, credit is largely due to the efforts of Bert and Mary Rappole – Chautauquans who have a long history with hospice and have been serving as the co-chairs of the CHPC’s Our House Campaign. In this capacity, they have been raising the funding necessary for constructing, running and endowing a community residence staffed 24/7.

Bert Rappole opened his surgical care practice in Jamestown well before hospice was available, and welcomed the advent of a certified county hospice agency in 1991. Mary served as its on-call registered nurse early on, and more recently as a hospice and palliative care nurse practitioner.  

At the end of her talk, the Rappoles will join her in answering questions.

For nearly 20 years — since before Chautauqua Hospice Information & Referral Service evolved into CHPC — Anderson has been a key member of its staff.

The day after graduating from The College at Brockport, State University of New York (SUNY Brockport) in 1977 with her bachelor of science in nursing, she and a friend headed for Southern California.

“I worked on spinal cord injury and discovered that I really loved home health care,” Anderson said. “I did that on weekends to pay for the adoption of my daughter. Spinal cord injury was fascinating because it was technical. People are on ventilators and people are just out of surgery.”

After 10 years, she returned to Western New York — to Rochester and Jamestown — where she continued serving as a nurse. In 1995, she received her master of science in community health nursing from D’Youville College in Buffalo.

“One of the interesting things about nursing is that there are so many areas of expertise you can go into,” Anderson said. “There are lots of opportunities.”

Eight years later, Anderson became a registered nurse case manager for Hospice Chautauqua County. Within two years she was promoted to manager of clinical services, then director of clinical services, and finally vice president of clinical services. She held this position for 10 years prior to being named president and CEO of CHPC.

“Palliative care is a fairly new concept for hospice,” Anderson said. “… Hospice is very regulated now; there are pages and pages of rules. We all have to play by the same rules. But for palliative care, there (are) just two paragraphs of regulations. … It’s a different concept, because there are so many different types.”

Because Chautauqua Institution’s nine-week season is unique, she said she will also talk about travel hospice and palliative care.

“Most health regulations aren’t people friendly,” Anderson said. “But hospice encourages us to be; to share care with other hospices. It’s a well-kept secret. Even if you just come for a week, you can have hospice or palliative care.”

Even more important for her, however, will be persuading everyone who attends her Monday afternoon talk to engage in “open conversations about what we want out of life and about self-directed closure of our life.” To ensure that we get what we want at the end of our life — which will in fact occur sooner or later — Anderson urges us all to put advance directives in place.

Frank A. Thomas to bring homiletics expertise to sermon series

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MARY LEE TALBOT – STAFF WRITER

Thomas

On his website, the Rev. Frank A. Thomas calls himself a preacher, teacher, scholar, lecturer and master coach. 

“Coaching,” he writes, “is about the discovery and implementation of choice. People and organizations get mired down in the anxious details of their own lives and businesses and forget that they have choice. As a result, many people and organizations lose their true passion and engagement. Coaching helps them to remember, create and access available choices, as well as foster the accountability that helps them implement their choices for passionate engagement.”

And he is particularly passionate about coaching pastors and coaching in the area of preaching.

Thomas will serve as chaplain-in-residence at Chautauqua Institution during Week Five. He will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday ecumenical worship service in the Amphitheater. His sermon topic is “Did Heaven Make A Mistake?” He will also preach at the 9 a.m. Monday through Friday morning worship services in the Amp. His sermon topics include  “Our Daily Bread,” “What About the Children?,” “Try Easy,” “What is Truth?” and “A Grain of Sand.” 

Thomas currently serves as the director of the doctoral program in African American preaching and sacred rhetoric and as the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. For many years, Thomas has also taught preaching to doctoral and master’s level students at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee, and United Theological Seminary of Dayton, Ohio. He is the CEO of Hope for Life International, which formerly published The African American Pulpit

Thomas also serves as a member of the International Board of Societas Homiletica, an international society of teachers of preaching.

Thomas is the author of numerous books, including American Dream 2.0: A Christian Way Out of the Great Recession, The God of the Dangerous Sermon, Surviving a Dangerous Sermon, How to Preach a Dangerous Sermon and Introduction to the Practice of African American Preaching. He was co-editor of Preaching with Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons 1750 to the Present with Martha Simmons.

Thomas has served as pastor for two congregations: New Faith Baptist Church of Matteson, Illinois, for 18 years and Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church of Memphis, Tennessee, for 13 years. 

He holds a doctorate in communications from the University of Memphis, a doctor of divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary, doctor of ministry degrees from Chicago Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary, a master of divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary and a master of arts in African-Caribbean Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.

A Tale as Old as Time: CSO to perform Oscar-winning ‘Beauty & the Beast’ score in live-to-film event

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NICHOLE JIANG – STAFF WRITER

Illustration by Olivia Dutkewych/DESIGN EDITOR

It’s a tale as old as time, true as it can be — and its music will fill the Amphitheater this weekend as the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra performs the Oscar-winning score to the beloved 1991 Disney classic, “Beauty and the Beast.” At 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Amp, Chautauquans are invited to be the CSO’s guests as the film plays on the big screen, accompanied by live music.

Saturday’s performance is the last chance this season to experience a live-to-film concert by the CSO, and it’s something that all generations can come together to experience. Classic Disney movies like “Beauty and the Beast” have been around for decades, and now the community gets to experience the film in an entirely new way.

“In terms of the Disney stuff, I think it’s just a lot of fun for people to hear a performance live of something that they’ve heard through their TV set for a long time, and I think that there’s just a little bit of a thrill associated with that,” said Jeffrey Robinson, CSO bassoon player.

Like the showing of Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” last Saturday, the musicians face the same challenge of playing a concert alongside a movie. The musicians must keep up with each beat with the use of a clicktrack. 

“This one isn’t one of the most difficult in the movie concert genre,” said Simon Lapointe, second violinist. “It’s a little more relaxed when it comes to technical things, but no matter what, it’s challenging — because it’s performed live (when) it wasn’t originally written to be performed like that.”

Another challenge that the CSO faces Saturday is the fact that the music is already so well known — the film won two Oscars for its score and was nominated for four more — so any potential mistakes will be easily recognizable.

“The good news is that this particular score was further along into the live-to-film productions,” said Stuart Chafetz, principal pops conductor. “This one was a little later (than ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’). And you could see the improvements of just how it’s done technically. So, for me the information is a little bit more solid. But my goal is to make sure that people forget that the symphony is even playing because it’s so locked in with the movie.”

However, with the score itself a bit more relaxed, Saturday’s experience will not only be fun for the audience but for the musicians as well.

“The whole movie is really wonderful. What makes it especially fun is that it’s very familiar, so when you get to do that familiar moment, it just brings more of the joy of the movie to me,” said Daryl Goldberg, cellist. 

Eva Stern, violist, said live-to-film concerts have a fun, upbeat vibe about them.

“I get the sense from the audience that people are really excited for that kind of an experience, because it’s a bit of a unique experience to be able to see a movie with a live orchestra backing it,” she said. 

The performance also gives the audience a chance to engage and sing along to some of Disney’s most iconic songs. 

“This happens to be a particular favorite of mine. I love this movie and I love the music in it,” said Leslie Linn, trumpeter. “One of my favorite songs is the Gaston song. It’s just funny with him just being stuck on himself, and it pokes fun at him through the singing.”

The performance is also a perfect way for families to have fun and make memories together.

“This is exactly what I feel like my job as principal pops conductor is. It’s all about bringing multiple generations together to enjoy a show together,” Chafetz said. “This is the perfect example of a perfect Saturday night with the family, watching a Disney classic with a live symphony orchestra. I feel so fortunate to be able to be the conduit to be able to present this fantastic film.”

This joint experience is one for the musicians themselves as well, as many of their children grew up with the movie.

“This (film) came later in my life, so I would tie this into my kids,” Linn said. “They’re coming to the movie, and it’s going to be fun playing this for them because they got to watch this as little kids. It’ll be a whole family affair tonight. But I know the movie well enough, and most of us do. Even without seeing the screen, I know what’s happening, so I can invest that in my playing. Just to play the original music in the original context is quite brilliant.”

The experience is also a great way for kids to appreciate the beauty of live music as well. 

“Orchestras are doing a little bit more of this, and I think it’s a great way to introduce kids,” Robinson said. “I think it helps to let them know that going to just hear the orchestra can be fun too. But I think the initial step is, ‘We’re going to go and see this movie we already know we’d like, and here’s some live orchestra music at the same time.’ ”

‘To bring light back into her eyes:’ with new marker dedicated to Cottage bearing Phillis Wheatley’s name, part of Chautauqua’s past ‘no longer lost’

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LAURA PHILION – COPY & DIGITAL EDITOR

The Phillis Wheatley Cottage Marker is unveiled by artist Louise Mandumbwa, left, and Elaine Davis on Wednesday at the intersection of Harris and Palestine. DAVE MUNCH / PHOTO EDITOR

Inside Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, there was a crowd — longtime Chautauquans, Institution leadership and newcomers came together to celebrate, thanks to some old papers, an aerial photograph and a story that spanned two continents.

Chautauquans gathered at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 21 to attend the unveiling of a marker dedicated to Phillis Wheatley and the house which stood at Chautauqua in her name for more than 70 years.

There is no direct connection between Wheatley, a freedwoman and famous poet, and Chautauqua Institution. The Phillis Wheatley Cottage stood not as a commemorative place of learning, but as the “colored boarding house” for African American workers at Chautauqua.  

“It’s true that African Americans have been well represented on the Amp stage, as preachers, speakers and entertainers,” said Ted First, African American Heritage House board member, during his remarks Wednesday. But First said Black Chautauquans are not often remembered as “members of our lived community.”

First said there were many questions about Chautauquan history that had yet to be answered, or even asked. 

“The Phillis Wheatley Cottage offered the key to open that door, but she and it were buried in plain sight, in the archives — in small type, classified ads, old maps, building and grounds reports, reams of newspapers with around-the-grounds, back-page news,” he said.

The marker was installed at the approximate location of the Phillis Wheatley Cottage — but even the address is the source of some doubt. 

“We don’t actually know the date (the Cottage) was opened, or what year,” First said. 

The Cottage was first created sometime in the 1890s. It’s known definitively that the Cottage was located at 23 Crescent in 1906, but was likely relocated during renovations in 1939, close to what is now Fletcher Music Hall. In a 1921 building and grounds report, the Cottage’s repair expenses are detailed: The report states, “The colored boarding and rooming house now presents a fairly good appearance, and I think quite satisfactory to the people who occupy it.” 

Chautauquans make their way down Palestine to the site of the Phillis Wheatley Cottage Marker during the dedication celebration. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

By the 1940s, there was an official hostess of the Wheatley Cottage, and boarders made regular collective contributions to Old First Night each season. In 1965, the building was officially repurposed as practice and storage space with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Forty-five years ago, First said, it was demolished — without a single known photograph ever taken of it.

When the history of such a house was brought to the attention of the AAHH in 2018, its leaders immediately helped organize efforts to uncover more of the story. That job fell to Emálee Sanfilippo, assistant archivist at the Oliver Archives Center. This has been her project for the last three years, and it is due to her efforts that personal and classified ads mentioning the Wheatley Cottage have been unearthed. Sanfilippo also verified the identities of many Black graduates of the very first Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle class of 1882.

Phillis Wheatley herself was born in West Africa around 1758. Her original name was lost to history, and in 1761 she made the brutal passage to America as an enslaved child. She was bought in Boston by John Wheatley, who named her Phillis, after the ship she arrived on. 

“She was brought to Boston to accompany Susanna (Wheatley), in the education and vested care of her children,” First said. “In the process of that, she got to accompany the lessons — and within 18 months, at the age of 7, she mastered the English language: reading, writing, in all its forms.”

Wheatley was freed at the age of 20. She became a renowned poet, but died in relative poverty and anonymity before she reached middle age. She is remembered today as a groundbreaking early American, but her legacy is not often closely examined.

“All of our archival research continues to unfold the full history of African Americans at Chautauqua,” First said. “We know that during the period when Chautauqua was in full bloom, from 1907 to 1925, Chautauqua engaged 50 million individuals with its national reach. … African Americans were present in all of these expressions in significant numbers.”

First closed his remarks by emphasizing the importance of uncovering hidden histories and fully illuminating buried narratives. 

Flowers left by Chautauquans sit at the base of the Phillis Wheatley Cottage Marker after its unveiling and dedication. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

“Today’s dedication liberates Phillis Wheatley, and brings her on(to) the grounds,” he said. “She’s now a Chautauquan — no longer lost in the archives. Her story has been the key to unlock the door to the African American narrative; through that door, we have a path to understanding where we’ve been, and better how to embrace the future together.”

Louise Mandumbwa, who created the marker to be unveiled, is a painter, printmaker and draughtswoman, and an alumna of Chautauqua Visual Arts’ 2019 season. Born in Botswana, Mandumbwa traveled to the United States to complete her bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Central Arkansas, where she met Sharon Louden, the Sydelle Sonkin and Herb Siegel Artistic Director. Louden encouraged Mandumbwa to participate at CVA, and gave her name when plans were made to design a commemorative marker. 

In her short remarks, Mandumbwa thanked Elaine Davis, a driving force behind AAHH and these efforts; First; and Louden “for the opportunity, as an African in America, to experience (and) really learn this story for the first time.”

“I know that people in this room — maybe more than other people in different spaces — appreciate that stories are not frivolous,” she said. “We learn from them. The stories we tell ourselves and tell each other inform how we see one another.”

Mandumbwa said that once people see each other, they are able to live full and beautiful lives as individuals, and that she hopes she has brought some of that individualism back to Phillis Wheatley, who “managed to shine so brightly” while facing incredibly difficult circumstances.

“It has been a complete honor,” she said, “to revisit this individual — to bring light back into her eyes.”

To open and close remarks, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Diversity Fellows played three classical pieces: “4 for Tango,” by Astor Piazzolla, “Por Una Cabeza,” by Carlos Gardel, and a selection from Michael Haydn. The Diversity Fellows are Yan Izquierdo (violin), Scott Jackson (violin), Edna Pierce (viola), Max Oppeltz (cello) and Amy Nickler (double bass).

Following a short reception, attendees walked up the hill past Fletcher Hall to the intersection of Harris and Palestine. Fresh hydrangea blooms were handed out; the walk up the hill turned both joyful and processional. Davis and Mandumbwa unveiled the marker together to enthusiastic applause.

‘Faith Based’ producer, actor Tanner Thomason slated for Cinema’s Meet the Filmmaker

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DAVID KWIATKOWSKI – STAFF WRITER

Spoof movies parodying specific genres have been made for years. “Spaceballs” for space operas, “Scary Movie” for horror films, and even “Shrek,” a parody of Disney movies and fairytales. 

At 6:15 p.m. Sunday, July 25 at Chautauqua Cinema, the next Meet the Filmmaker will be with Tanner Thomason, who starred in and produced the 2020 film “Faith Based.” A regular admission fee will be required to attend. The film follows two friends without a lot of direction in life until they find out that religion-centered movies always make a lot of money, no matter the actual quality of the film. 

To get rich quick, they set out to make the first religious movie in space. Of course, things do not go according to plan — they have to actually learn how to make a movie, as well as how to practice religion. Thomason has a personal connection to Chautauqua Cinema, and owner Billy Schmidt was happy to screen the film and have Thomason speak about the process of not only making this film, but the process of independent films themselves.

“I hope (audiences are) entertained,” Schmidt said. “I hope they have a deepened appreciation. As always with Meet the Filmmakers, people have no idea. The simplest thing is so much work. … You have to assemble teams of the right people — there are hundreds of relationships that go into making these (films), thousands of hours. I know for my audiences, getting someone in front of them in the flesh that they’re seeing on the screen really pulls that around.”

Thomason, Luke Barnett (co-star, writer and producer of the film) and director Vincent Masciale had been creative collaborators previously, making movies for other people and comedic shorts for the TV company Funny or Die.

“The three of us came up with a story together, and we were all raised in sort of churchy households,” Thomason said. “A lot of the stuff dealing with the church are just things that we knew from growing up in that environment, and so we all came up with a story together, and then Luke banged out a version of the script.”

Rest assured, this film is not intended to poke fun at religion or religious movies, but rather point out that virtually anyone can make a film centered on religion without having any real ties to it. 

“You can call something a faith-based film, make it for very cheap, … and still make a lot of money just because they come off as a religious film, and nothing behind the making of the film, or none of the intentions behind it, line up with sort of that belief system,” Thomason said.

Thomason grew up in southeast Oklahoma and split his time between the Methodist and the Southern Baptist Church. His maternal grandfather is the last living original charter member of his church.

“He literally built the church with his hands, and so I certainly grew up in a very pro-church environment, and I know the other guys did as well,” Thomason said.

Thomason hopes that Chautauquans laugh but also realize that people are not always who they present themselves to be. Most of all, he wants people to come if they want to make a movie on their own. 

“I live in LA, and I understand what it’s like to want to be creative and do creative things, and it’s a struggle, and it’s hard,” Thomason said. “It took years and years for our little team to get to a point where we can pull this movie off. If there’s anyone in Chautauqua who wants to make a short film or they want to make a movie, then they need to come see this, because this is what’s possible if you stick with your friends, and don’t give up.”

All Star afternoon: Jamestown Tarp Skunks visit grounds to square off against Chautauqua All Stars

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KRISTEN TRIPLETT – STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Jamestown Tarp Skunks play the Chautauqua All Star team on Monday July 19, 2021 at the softball field. KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Chautauqua softball is always a competitive affair, but Chautauquans faced a unique challenge Monday: taking on the Jamestown Tarp Skunks, the local franchise of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Chautauqua’s finest, dubbed the All Stars, faced the Tarp Skunks in a five-inning exhibition match at Sharpe Field. 

The All Stars came out to an early lead, putting up four runs in the first inning, but were ultimately undone by a third inning Tarp Skunks rally. The Tarp Skunks won 11-9. 

After the game, members of the community were invited to take a turn at the plate. Young and young-at-heart Chautauquans took their swings (and a few misses) to cap off a memorable afternoon at the ball field.

  • Kevin Koziol of the Jamestown Tarp Skunks pitches during their game against the Chautauqua All Stars Monday July 19, 2021 at the softball field KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Posey Wannop goes up to bat after the 5th inning Monday July 19, 2021 at the softball field KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Charlie Nichols of the Jamestown Tarp Skunks during their game against the Chautauqua All Stars Monday July 19, 2021 at the softball field KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Nicholas and Patrick Ritacco hold the flag during the National Anthem Monday July 19, 2021 at the softball field KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Will McEvoy bats for the Chautauqua All Stars Monday July 19, 2021 at the softball field KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Nate Chub of the Chautauqua All Stars watches a play from third base during their game against the Jamestown Tarp Skunks Monday July 19, 2021 at Sharpe Field. KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Team members from the Jamestown Tarp Skunks watch the game unfold Monday July 19, 2021 at the softball field KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A place to grow: Pop-up plant and gift store holds grand opening

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ANNALEE HUBBS – COPY & DIGITAL EDITOR

Vee Hottle checks out a succelent while browsing plants for sale during the soft opening of The Mobile Garden and Gifts of Grace Sunday, July 18, 2021 in the ground floor of the Colonnade. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

Plants are just like people: If you pay attention to them, they’ll tell you exactly what they need. 

What do Chautauquans need? A pop-up shop, right in the middle of the grounds.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 25 in the Colonnade on Bestor Plaza, The Mobile Garden and Gifts of Grace joint pop-up shop will have their grand opening, equipped with champagne, snacks and local, organic and homegrown flower stems to build your own bouquet. Their shop will stay open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sept. 30.

“To be surrounded by growth at the Institution, and to also be surrounded by plants that grow — it’s perfect,” said Lisa Swanson, the owner of The Mobile Garden, one half of the pop-up shop. 

A Jamestown native, Swanson has lived in the South for the last 20 years or so. She worked in the hospitality industry for a long time, specifically as a national sales manager working nearly 80 hours a week. She loved the work, but lost her job when COVID-19 hit. 

She always had a garden and loved houseplants, but her passion grew during quarantine. 

“Last summer, I was playing in dirt and loving my life,” she said. “I said to myself, ‘How can I do something and monetize something that I love, and something that I feel is so vitally important to the world?’ ”

So Swanson launched The Mobile Garden. To make it into the Institution within a year of her business opening was a dream come true, she said. This is her first-ever storefront. 

“I just want to share my passion for plants and the Earth with other people,” she said. 

Chautauqua Institution was always a part of Swanson’s business plan, but the pop-up shop wasn’t originally her idea. 

The retail space was empty, and the original plan for Chautauqua was to have a different pop-up vendor every week. While pitching her own business, Swanson said Gifts of Grace would be a good fit for a vendor. 

Eventually, the Institution reached out with a plan to combine the stores and do a season-long pop-up shop with the both of them. Chautauqua has never had a store like this before, Swanson said, so she’s proud that her first brick-and-mortar is in tandem with something new on the grounds. 

“I’m so thankful (Swanson) loves what we stand for and decided to invite us on this journey,” said Stefanie Lowery, whose mother, Colleen Anderson, owns Gifts of Grace. 

A variety of houseplants and and planters are displayed for sale during the soft opening of The Mobile Garden and Gifts of Grace Sunday, July 18, 2021 in the ground floor of the Colonnade. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

Gifts of Grace opened as a brick-and-mortar store in Lakewood in 2019. An inspirational gift shop, the word “Grace” was chosen by Anderson to mean living life gracefully and with purpose. 

Anderson opened the store as a creative outlet. Beforehand, she was a nurse, then a hospice nurse once she retired. She started by opening storefront gift shops in her husband’s pharmacies, but eventually decided she wanted a store of her own. 

Gifts of Grace sells handcrafted pieces from primarily woman- and minority-owned businesses throughout the U.S. They sell items from over 25 local, small businesses and artisans, including woodworkings, dried flower wreaths and ceramic mugs. They also sell mindful journals, inspirational coffee table books and, one of their best sellers, Kitras Balls.

Kitras Balls are pieces of glass art made by blowing glass, compressing it down and blowing it back up again. The process creates a tree-like formation in the center of the ball, and the pieces come attached with different meanings — trees of love, life, family, motherhood. 

At the soft opening of the shop last Sunday, members from the community stopped by to browse the stock. Lexi Rutkowski, who has been visiting the Institution with her aunt every year, said she was surprised at the turn out.

“I can imagine a store like this appeals to young people a lot,” she said. 

The front portion of the store houses a variety of plants, such as jades, aloes, monsteras and money trees. Swanson sources her plants as locally as possible, but some of the tropical plants and air plants come out of Florida. She also propagates some plants herself. 

Surrounding the plants are Gifts of Grace pieces aligned on shelves and handmade tables for sale. Watering cans and other plant products are for sale, as well. 

“To have somewhere new to poke about on the grounds will be nice for people,” Lowery said. 

Mary Polak, center, talks with Gifts of Grace manager Stefanie Lowery, left, and co-owner Colleen Anderson during the soft opening of The Mobile Garden and Gifts of Grace Sunday, July 18, 2021 in the ground floor of the Colonnade. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

Swanson wants to use the back portion of the shop for youth programs, like educational series on learning different types of plants and building terrariums. This past Mother’s Day, she did a DIY succulent bar at ART Cloth + Craft in Jamestown where people could pick their succulent, soil and pot or mug. She plans to do that again with kids on the grounds, but also with kids off-site, within the community. 

One of her goals for The Mobile Garden is to be accessible to everyone. 

“Being accessible to everyone means all levels of income, and all ages,” she said. “Because a lot of times, people forget about kids, who are people, too. You just have to be able to relate to them in a different way. Including them and teaching them how to love and care for things and why plants are so important is the foundation of everything that I’m doing.”

Alyssa Porter, director of youth and family programs, met with Swanson to discuss bringing in families and youth for a collaboration with the shop. Porter has brought her daughter to some events that The Mobile Garden has been a part of, like the Jamestown Public Market. 

“That’s as far as this conversation has gotten, but I think with her innovation and flexibility and community-minded approach to her work, we’re going to do something great with families, whatever that might be,” Porter said. 

The Mobile Garden owner Lisa Swanson, left, talks with Ted and Tish Okerlund during the soft opening of The Mobile Garden and Gifts of Grace Sunday, July 18, 2021 in the ground floor of the Colonnade. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

Porter said she would love, in the future, to have a maker space on the grounds that builds off Play CHQ to add an element of garden education — planting and playing in the soil. Play CHQ is a vehicle with which they could easily make this happen.  Play CHQ, new this year, is a series of pop-up activities around the grounds for families — games, crafts, STEM activities.

“I would love to open something up for parents and kids, or grandparents, or whoever it might be, to do something together — to really lean into the multigenerational Chautauqua approach,” she said.  

Swanson hopes the classes will create a deeper connection between the shop and the community. 

“I think that will be a catalyst for not only driving business into the store, but for immersing myself into Chautauqua culture,” she said. “I’m not just here to sell plants, I’m here to be a part of the team.” 

Another service The Mobile Garden offers is plant pairing, where they will go into a customer’s home, look at the light conditions and air quality and determine which plants would best thrive in that environment. They also offer a service where they water, rotate and prune your plants when the customer goes out of town. 

They have plants for the type of person who dotes over them, the picky ones, and for those who just want their house filled with beautiful plants without much maintenance. 

Swanson and Lowery said their goal for the season is to have fun and be Chautauquans, immersed in the culture of the grounds. 

“I’m here to soak up as much as I can learn from the Institution as the people here can learn from us,” Swanson said. “Spreading my love of plants is a way of giving back.”

Week Five Letter from the President

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COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

Knock, knock. Who’s there? You are! OK, so clearly I’m not the one to author or deliver jokes, but I don’t have to do that heavy lifting as we enter Week Five at Chautauqua — a week in partnership with our friends at the National Comedy Center. 

Traversing some of our themes at Chautauqua can occasionally feel heavy: trust, democracy, empathy, resilience, divides — and while they are incredibly important topics to explore during our Summer Assembly, sometimes we just need to laugh. We promise you laughter and more this week as we explore “The Authentic Comedic Voice: A Week in Partnership with the National Comedy Center.” The art of comedy is deeply personal, requiring artists and creators to tap into their own experience to hone a unique, resonant and authentic voice. In this week, we examine how comedians working in an array of genres, media and styles have found their voices, developed their voices and mobilized their voices to communicate with audiences in impactful — and entertaining — ways. 

From comedians to comedy commentators, we bring out some great voices to help us this week. I’m thrilled to welcome back to Chautauqua our dear friend Lewis Black, not only for a special performance and a staged reading of one of his plays, but also for a Friday master class. This king of comedy has seen and done it all, and over these past years of partnership with our friends at the nearby National Comedy Center has himself become a friend to Chautauqua. We’re thrilled to have him and them here. 

In our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, we look at “The Authentic Comedic Voice: Truth Born of Struggle.” What we expect from the art of comedy is something silly, foolish, witty, or an unexpected twist or deviation from expected reality. It has been posited, however, that authentic comedic articulation, while producing laughter and hilarity, frequently arises out of struggle, out of pathos and the need to speak truth. “We laugh because it’s funny; we laugh — or cry — because it’s true.” In this week, we invite the voices of the healers who make us laugh. 

Speaking of “funny men,” we resurrect the great comedic master Charlie Chaplin this week as our very own organist, Jared Jacobsen Chair and director of sacred music, Joshua Stafford, presents the second Massey Memorial Organ movie with Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush.” Even if you’re not a fan of Chaplin, you cannot help but be a fan of the master of Massey. Josh is in his first year as our permanent organist, and having taken in the first Massey Organ movie, I can attest to the great treat it is to relive the era of silent movies with accompaniment.  

If part of the goal of comedy week is to hold up the value of joy, then you’ll understand the reasons we invited Straight No Chaser back to the Amphitheater on Friday. Some know that I spent more than a decade singing in an a cappella group, Potomac Fever, with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. I had the pure joy of singing many of Straight No Chaser’s arrangements during those years, so I hope you’ll indulge me if I show up in full “fanboy” mode that night. I hope you’ll join me — even if you don’t geek out as much as I will.  

This past week saw a transition in our student life, as our incredible School of Music cohort departed, while the schools of Dance and Visual Arts came to life for their 2021 sessions. While it’s unusual to not have all the students here together, living in community with each other and all of us, I’m grateful to them for their dedication and commitment, and to our faculty and staff team who poured all of themselves into ensuring a safe and satisfying experience. To see the effect that Chautauqua can have on the next generation of artists, I hope you’ll attend Sunday evening’s special Alumni All-Star Ballet Gala. These remarkable dancers, all of whom spent part of their formative years here, now represent top-tier national companies such as New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. It’s a performance not to be missed. 

Finally, I hope you’ll notice how our performing and literary arts programs have picked up on our comedy theme, with Chautauqua Theater Company’s performances of Commedia, Chautauqua Opera Company’s Scalia/Ginsburg on Friday and the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle’s Week Five selection of Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. Nowhere but Chautauqua can a theme be so deeply and naturally threaded through the overall experience. 

In a recent planning meeting for the future of Chautauqua, someone reminded me that while we often explore the great issues of the day in depth, one of our strongest assets is that we want that exploration to bring joy. People are more inclined to do good in the world when they feel joyful and hopeful. I hope this week delivers both to you as we enter the midpoint of our season. I hope to experience it alongside you in community. Have a great week, Chautauqua! 

A grand finalé: MSFO, Voice Program conclude season with timeless ‘Marriage of Figaro’

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KRISTEN TRIPLETT – STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Timothy Muffitt conducts the Music School Festival Orchestra during the Student Opera’s production of Marriage of Figaro Monday July 19, 2021 in the Amphitheater. KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

After a few short, busy weeks of rehearsals, recitals and performances, Music School Festival Orchestra and Voice Program students joined forces for one final show: a collaborative production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, performed Monday in the Amphitheater.

The opera, which traditionally spans four hours, was shortened to 90 minutes with narrative sequences marking jumps in the story — but the Voice Program opted to keep in as many large ensembles, trios and duets as possible, giving as many students as possible their chance in the Amp’s spotlights.  

  • From left, Evan Lazdowski as Figaro, Seonho Yu as Count Almaviva, and Lydia Graham as the Countess during the Student Opera's production of Marriage of Figaro Monday July 19, 2021 in the Amphitheater. KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Amanda Batista as the Countess during the Student Opera's performance of Marriage of Figaro Monday July 19, 2021 in the Amphitheater. KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Lucy Evans, as Cherubino, and Nicoletta Berry, as Susannah performs Marriage of Figaro in the opera student's final performance at Chautauqua Monday July 19, 2021 in the Amphitheater KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Seonho You, as Count Almaviva, Nicoletta Berry, as Susannah, and Adam Catangui, as Don Basilio perform during the Student Opera's production of Marriage of Figaro Monday July 19, 2021 in the Amphitheater KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Maria Consamus, as Cherubino, during the Student Opera's production of Marriage of Figaro Monday July 19, 2021 in the Amphitheater KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Bass-baritone, Evan Lazdowski performs the role of Figaro during the Student Opera's production of Marriage of Figaro at Chautauqua Monday July 19, 2021 in the Amphitheater KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Carlos Arcos, as Antonio, performs during the Student Opera's production of Marriage of Figaro Monday July 19, 2021 in the Amphitheater KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Timothy Muffitt conducts the Music School Festival Orchestra during the Student Opera's production of Marriage of Figaro Monday July 19, 2021 in the Amphitheater KRISTEN TRIPLETT/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

At general meeting, CPOA nominates 4-generation Chautauquan Rick Evans for Class B trustee; forum explores Chautauqua Lake/Jefferson Project

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JORDYN RUSSELL – STAFF WRITER

At 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 17, The Chautauqua Property Owners Association general meeting took place in the Hall of Philosophy, followed by the Institution’s Leadership Open Forum.

The CPOA currently has over 700 members and is actively engaged in supporting homeowners, while simultaneously facilitating a sense of community here in Chautauqua. 

At the general meeting, the CPOA discussed the nomination of a Class B trustee candidate for the Institution’s board of trustees election in August. 

As laid out in the 1902 Chautauqua charter, four of the 24 members of the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees are elected to the board by a vote of members of the Chautauqua Corporation, or property owners (one vote per property). These four members are classified as Class B trustees, though there is no substantive difference in their participation on the board. While any corporation member can run for these elective seats, the candidate nominated by the CPOA is typically elected.

The CPOA’s nominating committee for 2021 included Mary Henderson, Paul Perry, Jake Zeigler, Jenn Flanagan and Johanna Sholder, choosing to nominate Rick Evans, a fourth-generation Chautauquan.

“As a member of the nominating committee, we originally had 14 people that showed interest in becoming the Class B trustee,” said Paul Perry, CPOA president and committee chair. “We ended up interviewing 10 people before we decided on Rick Evans.”

Perry further discussed the nomination process as a member of the nominating committee, as well as the benefits of CPOA membership. 

“We found (Evans) was a strong candidate, he has a real understanding of how the Institution works,” Perry said. “He has a focus on property owners and their concerns, as he has been on the grounds in Chautauqua for around 30 years — he gave us confidence that he would be a good trustee.”

As an all-volunteer organization, the CPOA works to build a community among Chautauqua property owners through various celebrations, events, and other activities. Its mission is to enhance the Chautauqua experience, quality of life, and sense of community of Chautauqua property owners. 

The CPOA also serves as a voice of advocacy in Chautauqua — relaying major issues and concerns to Chautauqua’s property owners toward the goal of information and education. 

“We were really excited about the level of community involvement and applications received for the Class B position, with the most applications we have ever had,” said Erica Higbie, CPOA secretary. “It is a huge indication of interest in the community, as well as the CPOA in general. 

The open forum featured a presentation by John Shedd, Chautauqua’s vice president of campus planning and operations, with representatives of The Jefferson Project on Chautauqua Lake. 

The Institution recently announced a $1 million investment in research initiatives to better forecast and mitigate water quality issues on Chautauqua Lake. 

Institution President Michael E. Hill announced that he had signed the new lake Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with several other lake entities. Hill said he signed it because he believes “that collaboration is crucial” to reversing the negative trends on the lake.

“We hope to potentially forecast when we are going to see harmful algal blooms, large algal growths on the lake,” Shedd said regarding the project. “(This will) help us to determine if there is a way to mitigate those actions of the lake and make the lake water better and improve it.” 

Concerns and comments alike are gathered and used towards research for Chautauqua’s renewed promise 150 Forward, the strategic plan for the Institution.

Members of the board invite Chautauquans to engage with trustees at any time by adding suggestions at one of the open forum meetings or by contacting the administration.

Campaign Zero co-founder DeRay Mckesson to discuss actions people can take at local level

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NICK DANLAG – STAFF WRITER

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DeRay Mckesson has been a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement for over six years. In the movement’s early stages, Mckesson went from news organization to news organization to spread their work, but he also took to social media, especially Twitter.

“In 2014, Twitter was really big,” Mckesson said. “It was one of the only ways that we were able to tell people what’s going on. There was no Instagram Live. There was no Facebook Live. There was no Twitter video.”

But now, Mckesson said, more technology gives people greater opportunities to connect. 

“One of the important things about this moment is that we’re able to connect with each other in ways that we’ve never been connected before,” Mckesson said. 

As well as being a leading voice for the Black Lives Matter movement, Mckesson is a co-founder of Campaign Zero, an American police reform campaign. At 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 23 on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform, Mckesson will discuss what he has learned over the last six years around policing and around the data around it, as well as actions people can take. His lecture is part of the African American Heritage House 2021 Lecture Series.

Much of Mckesson’s work focuses on the local level, and President Barack Obama has praised his work as a community organizer. Mckesson said with issues like policing and mass incarceration, the problem mostly lies within local powers. 

“In states, in cities, it’s your city councilperson, it’s your mayor, that’s actually where the problem is,” Mckesson said. “The federal government incarcerates the least amount of people in the system — state and local incarcerate way more than anybody.”

And the same goes for policing. He said though many of the stories told focus on killings by police in big cities, police kill more people in suburbs than almost all other communities combined.

One of the important things about this moment is that we’re able to connect with each other in ways that we’ve never been connected before.”

DeRay Mckesson, Co-founder, Campaign Zero

To help spread information and tools to local communities, Mckesson co-founded Campaign Zero, an organization dedicated to making data accessible on issues like over-policing and mass incarceration. Some of the organizations and websites he is involved in include End All No-Knocks, 8 Can’t Wait, Nix the 6, Mapping Police Violence and Police Scorecard.

8 Can’t Wait in particular saw a lot of support and debate online. The movement revolves around eight restrictive use of force policies that supporters want implemented in cities and states to reduce killings by police officers. The policies range from banning chokeholds to requiring de-escalation and comprehensive reporting. 

8cantwait.org has an interactive map of all 50 states and Washington, D.C., showing which states’ legislatures proposed or passed which policies. So far, according to the website, 19 states have at least one policy enacted, with New Jersey being the only state to enact all eight policies and New York enacting the ban on chokeholds and proposing three other 8 Can’t Wait policies.

“We did 8 Can’t Wait, which was one of the biggest reductions of the power of the police in American history,” Mckesson said. “That really helped me see that change is possible — you just need to map it out for people so they know exactly what to do. That really helped me believe again.” 

Mckesson said he was also helped by those closest to him.

“I’m super blessed to have great friends and family. That’s where I go when I need to step away from this work that is so rooted in death,” he said. “I’m always reminded that we’re never alone; community makes us strong. So we push back on this idea of self-made. I’m not self-made. A community made me. A community of people helped me be strong and thoughtful.”

On a federal level, Mckesson said people should pay close attention to the Biden administration.

“Biden, today, could let people out of jail at the federal level,” he said. “He could model and signal things that are actually really important, instead of waiting for Congress to do them, and he has not, so that is something that people should be paying attention to.”

And, looking to the future, he has hope. 

“I think that we can win,” Mckesson said. “That’s like the most exciting thing I can think of: That we can win in this lifetime.”

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