Daily Schedule

Winthrop Rockefeller’s Hill describes push for equitable Arkansas in final AAHH talk




The Rev. Shantell Hinton Hill won’t stop until her mission for equity is complete. 

Born a half-hour north of Little Rock in Conway, Arkansas, Hill is an equity officer for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Little Rock, where she pushes for a narrative change and community voice in her community. 

Hill is the final speaker for the 2021 African American House Lecture Series. Her lecture today is based on Week Nine’s theme “Resilience.” It will be broadcast at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27 on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform.

“I really think that the question of equity is about meeting people where they are with exactly what they need so they can thrive and prosper,” Hill said. “For far too long in Arkansas, and really across our nation, there have been groups of people that have been left out of the conversation about what their thriving would look like.”

At the foundation, she and others develop grants and partnerships with innovative and community driven organizations, she said. The foundation’s mission is to pursue economic, educational, social, ethnic and racial equity for all Arkansans, according to its website.

Since taking on this role in July 2019, Hill’s learned the power of trust in communities that are forgotten by funders and community leaders, she said. 

Critically listening for impactful changes in people’s lives goes beyond monetary investments, but also includes relationships that help people see models of innovation in other places, she said. 

“These are things that really just invigorate me to continue being in grantmaking,” she said.

Narrative change is a big part of the foundation’s strategy, particularly stories that influence what people believe about themselves, culture and the economy that impact how people vote and ultimately policies that are enacted, she said. 

One of the foundation’s newest projects is called Reimagine Arkansas. 

“(It) seeks to tell the stories of underheard people in Arkansas,” she said, “and share them in accessible ways so that narrative change can become an integral piece in what’s happening in local communities.”

For today’s lecture, Hill will discuss revolutionary truth telling and radical futures with a focus on resilience, she said. 

“In our American conscience, we love to talk about resilience,” she said. “We love a good bootstrap story. We love to talk about the underdog coming back from defeat to win the championship and how resilient those folks normally are. But there’s this other side of resilience that means a person has had to develop a set of skills to cope when there’s an unnecessary system of fairness and harsh treatment … to go up against.”

These stories may cause people to reevaluate other stories about American values, which Hill said might actually be troublesome and harmful if not examined more closely. 

Furthermore, she hopes people will walk away questioning things that were never questioned before. Most stories are told by people in places of power, and if people aren’t careful, they can influence and determine what the listeners believe, she said. 

“My hope is that people will begin to ask different questions about the stories we’ve all been told, and ask who is implicated in those stories, and ask if those people have been able to tell those stories on behalf of themselves,” she said. “A lot of times, when people who have been the most resilient begin telling their stories, they might tell the story differently than someone would tell it who is in a seat of power.”

‘Double Portrait:’ Jazz dynamos Charlap, Rosnes bring evening of duo pianos to Amp



Renee Rosnes and Bill Charlap

Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes had been married for three years when they released their album Double Portrait  — a collection of piano duets, featuring covers from the American songbook, lesser-known jazz pieces and one original composition from Rosnes herself: “The Saros Cycle.”

“The melody has a very cyclical feel to it, almost an expansive sound,” Rosnes told NPR’s “Weekend Edition” when the album was released in 2010. “I was looking for a title that reflected something in the cosmos and came across the Saros Cycle, which refers to the cycle of eclipses.”

The piece was written for two pianos — the entirety of Double Portrait is for duo pianos — fitting for two of the most acclaimed jazz pianists in the industry. And it’s a song, Charlap told NPR, that he loves playing with Rosnes.

“It’s so connected in terms of the melody and the harmony,” he said. “They’re so welded together, and there’s such an organic feel to it. It feels so expansive, and when we play on this together, we really improvise at the same time.”

Fresh from his Sunday afternoon Amphitheater performance with the Bill Charlap Trio, Charlap will again take the stage, this time with Rosnes, at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17 in the Amp for an evening of songs from Double Portrait.

Rosnes, who hails from Vancouver, has recorded 14 albums and has been the pianist of choice for artists like Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, J.J. Johnson and Bobby Hutcherson. She’s also a founding member of SFJAZZ Collection and an organizer of an all-female jazz band Artemis, who have played the Newport Jazz Festival and released a self-titled album in 2020. 

The son of a musical New York City family, Grammy Award-winning pianist Charlap has performed with the likes of Phil Woods, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan, Wynton Marsalis, Freddy Cole and Houston Person.

The two have been playing together since the 1990s (and married since 2007), and in 2014, Charlap told Rebecca Walsh for The Salt Lake Tribune that “the chemistry was there right away.”

“It’s mutual respect,” he said. “But then you have the added intimacy of how much you care about each other. It’s a nice (musical) conversation.”

In their New Jersey home, the couple practices on two Steinway pianos — they usually spend more time playing solo, Rosnes told “Weekend Edition,” but they don’t mind since it actually helps the spontaneous improvisation of live jazz performances.

“He inspires me,” she told NPR. “So when we play together, I automatically have a sense of inspiration, which is great, because it helps make the music jell and have spontaneity and feel good. I think I’m always learning, and always will be.”

One day only — CVA’s Art in the Park brings local, regional art to grounds



Chautauquans explore the stalls during the Art in the Park program, organized by Chautauqua Visual Arts and Friends of CVA, on July 7, 2019, in Miller Park. VISHAKHA GUPTA/DAILY FILE PHOTO

The Friends of Chautauqua Visual Arts will host a wide array of remarkable artists for the annual Art in the Park, featuring students from the CVA School of Art as well as artisans from across the region. The arts and crafts show will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in Miller Park.

The open art fair will display more than 70 vendor tables this year, highlighting everything from fine art to mosaics. The artwork for sale includes hand-dyed silk clothing, organic cosmetics, paintings, ceramics, homemade soaps, embellished handbags, fine jewelry, pieces made of up-cycled materials and hallmark Chautauqua-themed trinkets.

The entrance fee for the event supports and provides scholarships for students at the CVA School of Art. Every student was awarded a scholarship this year.

Belinda Rogers, member of the Friends of CVA Board of Directors, expressed her excitement ahead of the annual event. 

“I was a vendor at Art in the Park two years ago, it is just so great for the artists and students,” Rogers said. “We had so many vendors reach out over the pandemic, local and regional artists that really look forward to this, as well as having access to the Chautauqua community.” 

Each year, the annual market is planned for Sunday, when admission to the grounds is free to all. Chautauquans, as well as members of the surrounding community, are encouraged to attend.

“Unique to this year, there is only one Art in the Park event this summer, instead of the usual two that we typically have throughout the summer,” Rogers said. “So, we really encourage everyone to come out and see what Art in the Park has to offer.”

Wendy Cohn, a fused glass artist, has been participating in the annual event for around 15 years, exhibiting earrings, pendants, bracelets, dishes, napkin holders, nightlights and spoon rests, all made out of glass. 

“(I) look forward to seeing all the people who come to the event, especially with the camaraderie between fellow artists,” Cohn said. “I really enjoy sharing (my) work with folks, especially those who return each year, sharing their stories about their previous purchases.”

Chautauqua Community Band to perform annual Old First Night concert



Jason Weintraub leads the Chautauqua Community Band in the playing of the National Anthem during the Old First Night Concert Aug. 6, 2019, on Bestor Plaza. SARAH YENESEL/DAILY FILE PHOTO

This week is all about traditions and celebration — Chautauqua Institution turns 147 years old today. To kick off the birthday festivities, the Chautauqua Community Band will perform their annual Old First Night concert at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3 in Bestor Plaza. The familiar blue shirts, led by conductor Jason Weintraub, will once again fill the plaza with traditional pieces. 

Weintraub began this long tradition of performing in the plaza for Old First Night after walking around during the day and realizing there wasn’t much going on. 

“I thought for Old First Night, to celebrate Chautauqua’s birthday, we should have a band concert,” Weintraub said. 

The CCB has now been performing at Old First Night for 25 years. The band is also a way for community members, both on and off the grounds (as well as families), to come together and celebrate these traditions. 

The concert will start off with “The Star Spangled Banner” and will continue with familiar marches, overtures and the “Happy Birthday” song. This year’s program also features numbers from the musical Oklahoma. There will be no soloists for this year’s concert, but the community can enjoy the Thursday Morning Brass ensemble. The group will perform alongside the CCB and will also be spotlighted for “The Colonnade Fanfare” and several works by Henry Mancini. The fanfare was written by the group’s euphonium player. 

“There’s a lot of traditional songs that we play. There’s various marches that people associate with Old First Night,” said Aiden Chamberlain, Tuesday Morning Brass lead. “There’s also that little bit of identity with themes from different states. So that’s kind of part of the tradition. I’ve been coming to Chautauqua for 20 years, and the band’s done this every year. It’s a real part of that tradition.”

People can come out and enjoy the live music while lounging in the sun on Bestor Plaza, said Weintraub. 

“We’re one of the few things where the tradition just keeps going. This concert is more of a park band. Everybody can be having a picnic, singing, humming and whistling,” Weintraub said. “A lot of people tell me this is one of the things they look forward to the most.”

The concert, Chamberlain said, is also a great opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate Chautauqua and enjoy all the traditions that this special day offers. 

“I like the atmosphere of being outside. You’ve got families enjoying the day and maybe having a little picnic or some lunch. There’s that nice community feel, and we’re right in the middle of the community,” Chamberlain said. “And with that, you really get that feeling of being right in the middle of Chautauqua with everyone joining in together for the old first night tradition. It’s really nice to be a part of that.”

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




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.”

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



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.”

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



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.”

‘A Reckoning in Boston’ launches ‘21 Meet the Filmmaker series



After more than a year of movie theater doors being closed, they are opening once again to allow filmmakers and moviegoers alike to talk about the passion that goes into making their favorite movies. 

At 10 a.m. Friday, July 23 at Chautauqua Cinema, the first Meet the Filmmaker special event of the season will be taking place, accessible with a Traditional Gate Pass. Director James Rutenbeck will be presenting his documentary “A Reckoning in Boston” alongside one of the subjects of the film, Kafi Dixon. 

Chautauqua Cinema owner Billy Schmidt is elated to bring back the Meet the Filmmaker series this summer.

“It’s a hard thing to wedge into place because the opportunities aren’t always there,” Schmidt said. “But when we can work one out, it’s such a pleasure to bring someone here to show their work. I think our crowd really appreciates it. Chautauqua loves the opportunity to ask a question on a mic.”

“A Reckoning in Boston” chronicles two individuals’ journeys through the Clemente Course in the Humanities. The course is taught in 34 cities across the United States for people who have experienced homelessness, are transitioning to life post-incarceration or who faced obstacles in getting a college education.

The mission of the Clemente Course is to foster critical thinking through engagement with history, literature, philosophy and art history.

However, as time went on, Rutenbeck had trouble finishing the film and was forced to come to terms with his own white privilege and complicity in the power structures of America. Dixon and Carl Chandler, two students within the Clemente Course program, were originally two of the subjects of the documentary. 

As Rutenbeck pivoted the focus of the documentary, he enlisted Dixon and Chandler as co-producers;  as Rutenbeck was awakened to the racism, violence and gentrification in the city of Boston, he essentially became  a subject of his own documentary.

“I think it’s really daunting to really start to realize about racial structures and about racism as a white person and try to understand what can (be done) to dismantle it,” Rutenbeck said. “I think the film is helpful in that regard for people who care about (the) racial justice (conversation) but are maybe a little bit overwhelmed by the idea of it and how they could participate.”

Dixon is a Black woman, an urban and rural farmer and a generational New Englander. She also founded Boston’s first Cooperative for Women and its first worker/owner urban farm food co-op, also known as the Common Good Cooperatives. 

“I did not believe, that without James as a white man and his camera and the power that existed in those two designations, that anybody would have understood that there were Black woman trying to develop a co-op …,” Dixon said. “I felt that we would be lulled into this basic sense of complacency once again ­— that everything is well for everybody and that the powers that be would not ever witness the granular issues that we experienced on a daily basis.”

The relationship between Dixon and Rutenbeck was one of mutual education and discovery in one another. 

“I didn’t realize that there was systemic violence, systemic bias,” Dixon said. “I didn’t realize that my experiences, the violence and the trauma were based on anything that had to do with biases around my race, my gender or my class. It wasn’t until I tried to do something that I thought would be received as good, that I realized that it was good in the bigger picture.”

Schmidt believes that Chautauquans will benefit from seeing perspectives different than theirs and that it’s something that film does best.

“We can cerebrally get the idea that people are in very different positions, but as by human nature, we only see ourselves from our we see life from our own positions, our own point of view,” Schmidt said. “(Film critic Roger) Ebert said before he died that movies are a machine that generates empathy. This movie is important in Chautauqua because it takes you across that divide.”

AAHH leaders Davis, First, with IDEA officer Taneja, to discuss inclusion efforts at Chautauqua in online panel




Following the last-minute cancelation of Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock’s lecture, Chautauqua’s African American Heritage House will present a talk titled “Imagining A More Inclusive Chautauqua” at 1 p.m. Friday, July 16 on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform. On the panel will be Senior Vice President and Chief Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Officer Amit Taneja, AAHH President Erroll Davis, and AAHH board member Ted First. Amy Oshier of “CHQ for U,” Chautauqua’s virtual morning talk show, will moderate the discussion and subsequent Q-and-A.

Taneja will describe his work and the position he holds within the Institution. The job of an IDEA officer was first provided for within the Institution’s 150 Forward strategic plan, and Taneja’s hiring was announced on March 8 of this year by Institution President Michael E. Hill. Taneja is the first to hold the position for Chautauqua, and will outline his efforts for the 2021 season and beyond. 


Davis, president of the African American Heritage House, will detail the work that he and his team are doing this summer, including upcoming events such as the unveiling of the Phillis Wheatley House plaque at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. He will also touch on this season’s in-person porch chats, held on the porch of the Athenaeum Hotel, and the need they serve — the need to know each other and to foster fellowship.

Ted First, who is a member of the AAHH board, will also speak on the efforts of the AAHH around Chautauqua. 

Also on the program is a discussion of the AAHH’s support of the archival efforts around uncovering and preserving records of the Black experience of Chautauqua throughout its history. 

Like many institutions of its day, Chautauqua was segregated until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and while its mission now reflects inclusivity, more efforts are underway to document earlier experiences.


“In the first few weeks in my new role, I’ve been impressed with the number of Chautauquans who have expressed a desire for a more welcoming, diverse and inclusive Chautauqua community,” Taneja said. “This conversation is a starting point for us to dream together of possibilities and pathways to get there. It’s an honor to have this dialogue with two trusted and respected leaders within the grounds who have been committed to diversity and inclusion for a long time.”

Following the discussion, Oshier will moderate a live Q-and-A session. Virtual attendees are invited to participate by submitting questions via The event will be archived to both CHQ Assembly and to following its conclusion.

Institution Programming Schedule for August 30

Daily Schedule

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

11:00 SERVICE OF WORSHIP AND SERMON. “Chautauqua: For Such a Time as This.” The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, vice president of religion and senior pastor. CHQ Assembly (

12:30 AA/Al-Anon Meeting. Zoom (email for access)

5:00 Open Mic. (Programmed by Friends of Chautauqua Writers’ Center.) 18 and older. Zoom (visit for access)

8:00 SACRED SONG SERVICE AND CLOSING THREE TAPS OF THE GAVEL. “If We Knew Then…”Michael E. Hill, president, Chautauqua Institution. The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, vice president of religion and senior pastor, Chautauqua Institution. Joshua Stafford, interim organist, Chautauqua Institution. CHQ Assembly (