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From the President

Week Seven Letter From The President

Hill_Michael

At the start of every Summer Assembly, I have the privilege of welcoming Chautauquans “home.” We deeply cherish that so many consider Chautauqua the place where their hearts reside, even if it’s not where they spent the majority of the year. We have grown fond of asking folks, “Where is your other home when you’re not at Chautauqua?” I marvel that, for many, it only takes one visit to Chautauqua to put this sacred place on the list of places one counts as “home.” 

How fitting then that we explore this week’s theme, “More Than Shelter: Redefining the American Home.” We have heard so much about home mortgage prices in this era of economic uncertainty, and this week we’re asking a fundamental question: What is the 21st-century American home? Home ownership has long been considered part and parcel of the American Dream, but trends are rapidly shifting: More and more homes are multi-generational, rentals are up and home ownership is down, and gentrification persists while the nation’s unhoused population increases. We are also redefining the idea of “home” — it can be a house, an apartment, a tiny home, a trailer, an RV — and this redefinition, in many ways, is driven by forces both in and out of our control. How can urban planning, banking practices and local policies move the needle toward creating a sustainable market in which everyone is able to have a home of their own, and of their choosing? 

Chautauqua never shies away from the “story behind the story,” and this week, our guides take us underneath this major shift in our cultural landscape. Helping us to unpack all of this is The Washington Post’s Megan McArdle; celebrated author Matthew Desmond, who penned Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which is a 2022 Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection; Rahwa Ghirmatzion, executive director of PUSH Buffalo, a group that mobilizes citizens to create a fairer way of addressing housing issues; Giorgio Angelini, producer and director of the documentary “Owned: A Tale of Two Americas”; and Booker Prize-winning author and founding president of the International Parliament of Writers Salman Rushdie with Henry Reese, co-founder and president of City of Asylum. I know these provocative speakers and your questions will help us to reframe this timely question, and I’m excited to see how our conversations change our attitudes and perspectives — not only about Chautauqua, but also about our “other homes.” 

In our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, we dive into “Home: A Place for Human Thriving.” “Home is where the heart is” is a sentiment that has been repeated for more than a hundred years, known to mean where our loved ones are. In reality, it is also the place wherein family, in its many forms and contexts, is created, and wherein each member can thrive if the nurturing elements of shelter, security, caring, nutrition and love are present. In the afternoon, we will look at the essentiality of “home” from multiple perspectives and insights to perhaps see more clearly into our own lives and histories. 

Heartfelt thanks to Sandeep Jauhar, author of Heart: A History; Kelly Corrigan, host of PBS’ “Tell Me More with Kelly Corrigan”; Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps (by the way, am I the only one who regularly cries listening to StoryCorps?); Alia J. Bilal, deputy executive director of Inner-City Muslim Action Network; and Jillian Hanesworth, poet laureate for our neighbors in Buffalo. 

Our chaplains in residence have inspired us all summer. I know you’ll want to join me in welcoming the Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, to our pulpit this week. The richness our invited chaplains share is a cornerstone of Chautauqua for many; we welcome Terri to this lineup and look forward to her shared wisdom. 

While these parallel conversations will do so much to enlighten our view and definition of home, there are so many things that remind me of my own definition of home this week. On Monday, Seraph Brass, winners of the 2019 American Prize in Chamber Music, provide a starting soundtrack. As a lifelong trombonist, I have a very special place in my heart for brass-centric performances. You may see me geeking out there! 

We’re also honored to welcome back to Chautauqua one of our most beloved writers in a very special way. On Friday, we will share a public reading of Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, but this time as a new opera. The House on Mango Street was a CLSC favorite, and Sandra has become a true kindred spirit and artistic partner with Chautauqua. Based on the novel, the opera is a dramatic rendering of the coming-of-age story of Esperanza Cordero. The two acts present a musical retelling of a year in the life of Esperanza, a Mexican-American teenage girl, whose challenges assimilating into her new neighborhood on Mango Street in a barrio of Chicago have enthralled more than 6 million readers in 25 languages. After a weeklong workshop, this special project is to have a public reading at Norton Hall, followed by a conversation with the creators. Before that reading, make sure to stop by at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday to the Hall of Philosophy to hear Sandra in conversation with Sony Ton-Aime, our Michael I. Rudell Director of Literary Arts. 

I had a truly emotional and wonderful opportunity last week to greet Julie Kent and my old friends from The Washington Ballet, where I was fortunate enough to be in leadership almost 15 years ago. I have vivid memories of stopping into the studios from my office and feeling so fortunate that this artistry was a part of my daily existence at work. A few of the dancers I worked with remain a part of TWB, and many other new faces join Julie in animating a new life for the ballet company of our nation’s capital. For me, this company is personal. I was overwhelmed to greet them this week, and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating them at Wednesday’s performance, and again on Saturday, Aug. 13, if your stay runs through that evening. TWB is a part of my personal narrative; I hope they become a part of yours. 

One final note of gratitude for two events last week. We were able to fully celebrate Old First Night, Chautauqua’s birthday, in Week Six. I want to thank all of those who worked hard to honor its many traditions while breaking it open in new ways to welcome those who are brand new to Chautauqua. Chautauqua belongs to all those who seek its gift to make us better humans. It meant so much to celebrate another year of life for our beloved Chautauqua, given all that has occurred in our world. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the organizers and all who participated. And as a graduate of one of our longest and most impactful programs, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, I had the honor of handing out 58 diplomas to new graduates on Wednesday. In so many ways, it connects us all to the entire history of this great place. At the Recognition Day ceremony, Sony Ton-Aime read a poem crafted by the Class of 2022 to mark the celebration. It’s moving and worth reprinting, so I close this week with this: 

“Step Over the Threshold”  

by the CLSC Class of 2022  

I remember toes wiggling in the cool lake,  

its oval shape and sandy shore inviting me.  

I remember bells arcing in the quiet air,  

nerves falling away, doubts fading  

and friends old and new welcoming me.  

 I remember meeting the author whose work  

I treasure, the moment of silence, of recognition,  

we shared. Knowledge to last a lifetime.  

I remember the parade of white-clad readers’  

and my spouse’s face at the golden gate.  

The challenge that still resonates,  

“only 12 books, dear.”  

 Chautauqua, I want us to take on this challenge,  

encourage debate in laughter and love,  

embrace our differences, feel, and sit with the peace  

between our disagreements, amaze  

at the perspectives of a stranger.  

 I want to imagine a place where the arts guide 

us through the red brick walk from the library  

to the Hall of Philosophy, the path of learning  

and growth. As the phoenix erupts from what was  

and emerges to new dreams, Chautauqua,  

know the future is in our hands.  

 So, please, continue to spread your arms wide,  

seek truth in all things, welcome those who  

step over your threshold. As we discover together  

new ideas, new beliefs, new traditions.  

 Chautauqua, I dream of a place of reunion,  

of connection, memories in timeless setting. 

I dream of ways to bridge the gaps, of gates  

turning into gateways, of a time when our grounds  

will mirror our diverse country.  

 Please, be a place to celebrate joy, music,  

jubilation, dance, and enlightenment. Be a  

sanctuary, a beacon of hope, of rest.  

 Chautauqua, I dream of you, of your streets changing  

during the seasons, bustling, teeming with wonders,  

thoughts and insights mimicking falling leaves  

colored bright as ideas, as chimes  

from the Miller Bell Tower on Bryant Day  

ringing in a new reading year,  

celebrating new books and new commitments. 

Thank you and congratulations to the CLSC Class of 2022. Happy Week Seven, Chautauqua, and welcome home.

Week Six Letter From the President

Hill_Michael

Welcome to Week Six of the Chautauqua Summer Assembly. This is the first column I’ve written this summer where we have already concluded more of our season than what lies ahead. I so often marvel at how fast our time together goes­ — but before I can get melancholy about that, a new and interesting question pops up for us to explore, and this week’s question is unlike almost any we’ve looked at this summer: What happens to us and our world after the sun goes down each day? 

From our homes and cities to flora and fauna, each night brings with it a markedly different landscape than the day that preceded it. Nighttime is full of contradictions: It provides cover for all manner of illicit activity, but also for safely creating community; it is the domain of both heroes and villains in our favorite cultural touchstones; it is a period many of us spend largely unconscious, yet during which our brains are ablaze with creative energy; it engenders paralyzing fear and also incredible beauty. It’s a critical period every day for our economies, including for night shift workers, and provides essential protection and opportunities for many in the animal kingdom. This week, we look to understand the mysteries of nighttime and, through a variety of other programs on the grounds this week, celebrate the possibilities of Chautauqua after dark. 

Chautauqua has long been blessed by its partnership with National Geographic, and our colleagues there bring us the opening lecture on this fascinating topic with photographer Jim Richardson. Few capture the mystery of our planet more than the artists at National Geographic, and Jim is certain to set us on a good path at the beginning of our week. From there, we dive into the “stuff of dreams” with Sidarta Ribeiro, author of The Oracle of Night: The History and Science of Dreams. This is followed with depictions of light and dark in storytelling with Maria Tatar, the John L. Loeb Research Professor Emerita of Germanic Languages and Literatures and of Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University. We then have the potential of the nighttime economy with Sheena Jardine-Olade, co-founder of Night Lab. We close our exploration with award-winning mystery and noir writer and social commentator Walter Mosley. 

From dreams and mythology, we move in the afternoon to looking at “Embracing the Dark: Fertile Soul Time” as the focus of our Interfaith Lecture Series. “Dark Night of the Soul” is a 16th century poem by Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross that narrates the journey of the soul to mystical union with God, the unknowable. Life, however, often leads us into darkness and fear, and to a feeling of failure and the notion of impossibility. Can we contend with these forces by seeking out ancient wisdom, light within our souls and mystical renewal, both spiritual and secular? We will look to contemporary wisdom teachers to show us how to embrace the dark as fertile soul time, for renewed hope and trust. 

Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want By Being Present in the Life You Have, kicks off our exploration. This is followed by Mirabai Starr, author of Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics. Monica A. Coleman, professor of Africana studies at the University of Delaware, then speaks to Chautauquan audiences, followed by Rabbi Rami Shapiro, senior adviser and co-director of the One River Foundation. The series concludes with Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times. If you’re curious how those experts fit together as a group, you won’t want to miss the ways they weave an exploration of our souls into a compelling narrative. 

We also welcome as our chaplain of the week Rabbi David Ingber, founder and senior rabbi of Romemu, New York City. Bishop Gene Robinson, our immediate past vice president of religion, started the tradition of including a rabbi among our weekly chaplains-in-residence. Ever since, our rabbi preachers have been among the most compelling leaders of worship each summer. I have no doubt that Rabbi Ingber will continue this trend, and we welcome him. 

Our evening entertainment in the Amphitheater is truly a feast for the senses this week. If you’re a lover of jazz, as I am, we start your week off in swinging fashion with Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra, NYO Jazz, with special guest Jazzmeia Horn. This duo is followed by the Stars of the Peking Acrobats one night and the renowned Ballet Hispánico the next. Our own Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra performs with the incomparable mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, followed by country music icon Brett Eldredge. The week concludes with our own Chautauqua Opera Young Artists regaling us in an evening of “Opera Pops.” Truly, what’s not to love?

One of the most special things we do each summer is to award The Chautauqua Prize, our national prize that celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. Each year, hundreds of titles are submitted for consideration and an army of volunteer readers spend months helping us whittle down the list. The short list and winner are featured in an advertisement in The New York Times Book Review. The undertaking is monumental; the winners are true artists. On Friday of this week, it will be my honor to present the 2022 Chautauqua Prize to Rebecca Donner, author of All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to purchase a copy from the Chautauqua Bookstore. It’s a stunning work that is worthy of celebration. 

On a personal note, The Chautauqua Prize brings mixed emotions for me, as its muse, Michael Rudell ­— for whom our director of literary arts position is named — passed in 2021. This is the first year we’ve been able to celebrate the Prize in person since that loss. Mike was a dear personal friend, and he loved this prize. I’ll miss having him as a part of the celebration this year. 

As I close out this week’s message to our community, I wanted to share two reflections in the spirit of not ducking the hard conversations we are called to have. I offer each as food for thought. 

First, we have received more than a few requests to address the frequent clapping and cheering that some in our audience have taken to during our Chautauqua Lecture Series when a speaker says something with which the audience member agrees or supports. If you’ve been coming to Chautauqua for some time, you may recall that we used to ask audience members to not do so, as it may have the unintended effect of making someone with an opposing view feel silenced or marginalized. As we seek to hear disparate viewpoints each week, I share this as food for thought as a community that is designed to value all perspectives. Some others have shared with us that even when they, too, agree with the applauded line in the Amp, it is starting to make our lectures feel like political rallies and takes away from the seriousness of the thesis being presented. I share this for your consideration, and to chew on, as we begin the week. As a community that values the varying opinions of others, I hope you’ll mull over your own response to this feedback from some of your fellow Chautauquans. 

Lastly, while I don’t normally call out any program not directly sponsored by the Institution (to do so would be nearly impossible given the wealth of riches our community groups curate each week), I want to acknowledge the abundant chatter — some positive, some not — about our community group LGBTQ and Friends at Chautauqua’s sponsorship of “From Mama with Love 2022: A Fabulous Drag Show” to be held at Norton Hall on Monday night. In my time at Chautauqua, there have been few other events that have sparked as much conversation. I was verbally berated over the event in the post office last week, and I’ve received more than a few notes of appreciation from others that the event is occurring. I don’t write to pick any side in this. I do tell you, however, of a lecture on “Drag as Performance Art,” at 12:15 p.m. Monday, which will be held in Smith Wilkes Hall. While many have applauded the show itself as Chautauqua acknowledging the modern era, others have wrestled with its appropriateness. When those who love Chautauqua disagree so deeply about something, our tried and true approach of seeking to understand one another has always been through the lens of education. For many in the LGBTQ community, drag is a central part of queer culture. Whether one agrees or disagrees, there is an opportunity through the lecture to learn about one another’s perspectives. I hope you will do so if you’re curious about how this cultural reflection fits into a diverse American narrative, and that if you go, you’ll engage across differences respectfully. Communities that wrestle with issues together are stronger for it, and not acknowledging this tension seemed disingenuous to me. 

Welcome to Week Six, Chautauqua. May our conversations of all kinds propel us to a more hopeful future. 

Week Five Letter From the President

Hill_Michael

This summer continues to move at a lightning pace. How in the world did we get to Week Five of our Summer Assembly, the midpoint in Chautauqua’s journey of the 2022 season? This week, we may be tackling the most controversial issues facing recent history in the United States: the issues of voting, democracy and what it takes for a society to function as such. Benjamin Franklin, when asked what kind of a government the new Constitution had created, said: “A Republic … if you can keep it.” 

This somewhat menacing question of whether our democracy can hold runs through its most fundamental tenet — the vote. Coming off an election cycle where voting itself was part of a fierce debate, Week Five at Chautauqua affords a critical conversation and also an answer of what we can do to keep Franklin’s admonition at bay. Speaker after speaker in our first four weeks have answered the question of how we might help myriad issues in our society with a one-word answer: “Vote.” 

This week, we frame this issue through a simple title with a complex thesis: “The Vote and Democracy.” In the first months of 2021, hundreds of bills have been introduced in state legislatures aimed at restricting, expanding and protecting voting access for millions of Americans. Following the 2020 election, what is the state of the American franchise? Is our system truly one person, one vote? How can we ensure that every eligible voter has access to the polls, and that the vote is trustworthy and secure — particularly from the threat of foreign intervention? We’ll also examine what distinguishes America’s elections, especially the state-by-state approach to navigating and employing systems of voting, and carrying out mandatory redistricting following the 2020 census. 

Our morning guides for these very thorny questions include a dear friend, Trevor Potter, who serves as president of the Campaign Legal Center. I’ve gotten to know Trevor over the past couple years, and we couldn’t ask for a more thoughtful lead to our week. He will be followed by Linda Chavez, chairman at the Center for Equal Opportunity; Jelani Cobb, the newly appointed dean of the Columbia Journalism School and an accomplished journalist in his own right; Michael Li, senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice; and Lee Drutman, a senior fellow in the Political Reform program at New America. This quintet will unpack the questions above, and more, with a brilliant blend of historical grounding, theoretical framing and real-world experience. 

While our morning lecture series focuses on headlines ripped from the news, our companion Interfaith Lecture Series goes to a more fundamental part of the conversation, as we explore “The Ethical Foundations of a Fully Functioning Democracy.” Building upon work begun in 2021, Chautauqua again shines a light on Socrates and his student Plato, who entered the discourse on ethics by way of a question that became central in Greek thought and is still relevant today: What is the relation between virtue, excellence of character, and a functioning society that provides for personal and societal happiness? For the flourishing of a democracy — as in “demos,” meaning “the people” — the Greek philosophers believed in reverence, justice and the objectivity of goodness as the links for knowing what is good and doing it. In this week, we discern the ideal ethical foundations of a system of government by a population that believes in reverence for life and justice. 

Tackling this heady assignment is Sherman J. Clark, Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School; Diana Aviv, senior adviser on election protection at Issue One and former president of Independent Sector, a leading nonprofit focused on the intersection of public and private works; Adam Jortner, the Goodwin-Philpott Eminent Professor of Religion at Auburn University; Anthea Butler, author of White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America; and Wajahat Ali, author of Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American.  

These two conversations are perfect lab experiments for us at Chautauqua. Literally at this writing, in our media headlines, we are still debating the nature of voting in our last election and the U.S. Congress is debating laws surrounding our future votes. If our first four weeks of speakers, teachers and artists calling us to get out and vote is one of the most important things we can do to shape our society, I trust Chautauquans will enter into vigorous dialogue about the right path forward. I can’t wait to join you.

A few other things to watch out for in Week Five: 

Last week, I was honored to participate in a ceremony marking a very special gift from the Kay Hardesty Logan Foundation that will endow our Chamber Music Series. There are always so many things going on at Chautauqua — some might say too many things — but we really present some of the best chamber music in the nation. If you are here for the first time or haven’t caught any concerts yet, check out Quatuor Danel on Monday or The Tempest Trio on Saturday. It’s such a special gem to have this artistry here. I hope you’ll join in celebrating Kay Logan’s legacy and all who love chamber by taking in one of these. 

As many of you know, Bishop Gene Robinson retired as our senior pastor and vice president of religion last year. One of the rich partnerships that Gene brought to our lives was to unlock the tremendous wealth of gifted preachers who had gone through Auburn Seminary. This week we are blessed by the witness of the Rev. Emma Jordan-Simpson, the newly appointed president of that distinguished institution. I look forward to her words in such an important week. We all know that the chaplain of the week can be a soothing, and sometimes agitating, force in a week here. I hope Emma is both. 

My husband, Peter, and I have become dear friends with Chautauquan Roe Green, who has funded and lifted up our New Play Workshops for years. Many of the plays that have started here have gone on to further performances, including to Broadway. This week, we again celebrate the New Play Workshop as a critical component of Chautauqua Theater Company’s efforts to foster important new American playwrights and to provide a safe and stimulating playground for artists to develop new work for the theater. Thanks, Roe, for all you do, and I hope to see you all there. 

As we look toward the end of the week, I hope many of you will get up early on Saturday, July 30, to join me for the annual Old First Night Run/Walk. I don’t promise to be in stellar shape for this one, but the point is to enjoy one another, get a little exercise and celebrate Chautauqua. Put on your running shoes, and I’ll see you at the starting line (and the finish — God willing). 

Thank you all for animating the incredible gift that is Chautauqua.Welcome to Week Five! 

Week Four Letter from the President

Hill_Michael

COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

I am truly flabbergasted that we have completed one-third of the 2022 Chautauqua Summer Assembly. What a blessing these past three weeks have been! For those who have been with us for part or all of the season so far, you have my heartfelt thanks for your positive contributions to our collective time together. If you’re just arriving, buckle in! You’re about to experience Chautauqua in full bloom for the first time in three years — and maybe more for you. I’m excited to see how you interact with the bounty before you, and so grateful for your presence with us this week and always.

Our Chautauqua Lecture Series theme this week is “The Future of History.” Since we rolled out the 2022 themes about a year ago, I’ve enjoyed watching folks turn that phrase over in their heads. It’s a fascinating thing to ponder: What will historians 50, 100, even 1,000 years from now think and know of us and our era? And what resources will they choose to consult? When data is stored in the cloud rather than compiled in physical files, when we send emails and tweets rather than letters, how do the records of today become primary sources tomorrow? How can those records live in a useful way for the historians of the future — or, will a need to study history as a formal vocation even exist? Beyond the logistics, broader philosophical issues are at play: Who are the gatekeepers of our stories, and who do we trust to be stewards of our lives and memories?

Lots of questions frame our work this week. Fortunately, we have the world’s best experts helping us tackle them: the former dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Eliot A. Cohen; two historians who are also Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, in Annette Gordon Reed and Jon Meacham; the Smithsonian’s Wikimedian at large, Andrew Lih; and author and curator Alexandra Zapruder, whose recent project “Dispatches from Quarantine” provided a platform for young people to document their real-time experiences of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Amphitheater lectures wrestle with history, our companion Interfaith Lecture Series will chart “The Future of Being.” As the universe and all creation continue to evolve into a changing and unknown future, we will ponder how our understanding of “being” — both human and divine — might also evolve to reveal more consciously a new experience of what we now simply call “life”? Together we will ask how this evolution might change the way that we will think about everything, and then how we will be, and then what we will do. 

I’m elated to welcome back the amazing Marilynne Robinson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gilead to begin our inquiry, followed by our friend Sr. Ilia Delio, author of The Unbearable Wholeness of Being; Rabbi Shaul Magid, author of many books, including From Metaphysics to Midrash; Diane Schenandoah, who as of April has the distinction of being the Syracuse University community’s first Honwadiyenawa’sek (“One who helps them”); and Amy Edelstein, founder and executive director of the youth-development nonprofit Inner Strength Education.

This week marks the return of Fr. Gregory Boyle to serve as chaplain. Fr. Greg is a tremendous friend to Chautauqua, and we have been thrilled to partner with him and his colleagues at Homeboy Industries on a number of programs and initiatives over the years. His homilies will make us weep and laugh, often within the same parable — please make time to see this master storyteller and servant leader at work.

We’re also pleased on Thursday to embrace our neighbors and home county through the first annual Chautauqua County Day. What a great opportunity to celebrate our surrounding community and all that it provides us. This day and a special program on Thursday afternoon have been the result of close collaboration with the Coalition of Chautauqua County Women & Girls and a variety of local foundations and media partners. I can’t state enough how grateful we are to our local and county partners, and how proud we are as an organization — not to mention most of our year-round staff — to call Chautauqua County home.

Our artistic offerings are headlined this week by mainstage performances by the internationally acclaimed Latinx queer pop artist Gina Chavez and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno. You also have the unique opportunity to see our resident Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra four times, including Saturday evening for a special “concert theater” performance of Bill Barclay’s “The Chevalier” and Thursday in a massive combined performance with our Music School Festival Orchestra of Mahler’s First Symphony — two full orchestras onstage at once! And our School of Dance will provide Sunday’s entertainment with the first Student Gala of 2022.

If it’s been some time since you’ve been to Norton Hall or Bratton Theater, be sure to grab tickets to Chautauqua Opera’s rendition of Tosca on Monday or to Chautauqua Theater Company’s second New Play Workshop of 2022, Through the Eyes of Holly Germaine. Additionally, the artistry of the Ulysses Quartet fills Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall on Monday as part of our Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series and we have a WonderSpark puppetry act on deck for Tuesday in Smith Wilkes Hall to continue the Family Entertainment Series.

And of course you’ll want to visit the Fowler-Kellogg and Strohl Art Centers at your leisure to see the dazzling visual arts exhibitions, some of which are in their final full week this week.

This week is also the third week of our Sunday Community Activity Fair on Bestor Plaza. I encourage you to take a quick tour of the truly stunning number of community-led organizations who help to serve and deliver on Chautauqua Institution’s mission — and join, if you’re so moved! While you’re on the plaza, be sure to stop by the Hultquist Center to get a glimpse at this week’s class offerings, too.

Truly, this is a bountiful week here at Chautauqua.

I want to close with some words about how as an institution and community, we are always trying to educate ourselves how best to engage with each other. While this place and these grounds in many ways offer a reprieve from everyday life, a chance to escape and be rejuvenated, it is and has always been the case that what afflicts the world finds its way here, too. I’d encourage you to read Amit Taneja’s latest column “From the IDEA Office” on Page A6 of this edition, which is an invitation to join us in making Chautauqua a place of belonging to all who seek to be enriched by it. I also want to express profound thanks to all of you who approach our staff with an extra note of grace, kindness and flexibility — this summer has demanded an extra level of hustle from many of our staff members, and I assure you everyone is doing their best within various constraints to deliver a world-class experience. Your kind words and simple gestures conveying understanding, encouragement and praise mean more than you know.

Time for me to step aside and let you continue flipping through the pages of another robust issue of The Chautauquan Daily, filled with the stories of another vibrant weekend at Chautauqua. This week, what shape will your Chautauqua story take? Welcome to Week Four.

Week Three Letter from the President

Hill_Michael

COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

Every summer I wonder how it is possible that time is flying by so fast. As we enter Week Three, I can hardly believe we’re nearly one-third of the way through our 2022 Summer Assembly. Like with so many things that are precious in life, I find myself wanting it to slow down, but I’m also reminded that “time flies when you’re having fun.” For those who have been with us all season, thank you for making it so. For those joining us for the first time this week, we are so excited you’ve joined this party of reflection and recreation, introspection and inquisitiveness, prayerful pondering and powerful performance. 

This week we explore “The Future of Human Rights,” a timely topic given all that’s happening in our nation and the world. Human rights have long been held as foundational, moral principles protected by national and international law. This week, Chautauqua looks to the future of human rights both at home and abroad. Great strides have been made across the globe in the more than 70 years since the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights; indeed, human rights have become central to the conversation regarding peace, security and development, and more explicit protections in international law now protect women, children, victims of torture and many others. There is much to be celebrated and still much to be accomplished. As always, we seek to ask the most impactful questions: What work must still be done in this critical global field, central to our ethics and morality as a human species? What newly recognized rights will shape this work going forward? 

Our guides could not be better equipped to help us unpack these answers. Authors like Alison Brysk, who wrote The Future of Human Rights; nonprofit leaders like Nicole Austin-Hillery, former executive director of the United States Program of Human Rights Watch; Chelsea Follett, managing editor of HumanProgress.org and a policy analyst for the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute; Noah Feldman, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School; and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad will each bring a unique frame to our inquiry. It’s breathtaking to consider the depth and breadth that these leaders bring to our assembly week. 

In our companion interfaith series, we envisage “The Spirituality of Human Rights.” How did humankind come to recognize what we understand as human rights? In 1776, the Declaration of Independence recognized “… these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights.” In 1948, the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights echoed this reality in recognizing that “the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Does this recognition arise from the human psyche as manifested in the sacred Scriptures of the world’s religions? From whence does it come? In this week, we will seek to discern the spiritual and ethical wellspring foundations of this truth, and how to live it. 

And who better to help us with this discernment than the Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, president of Sojourners; Layli Miller-Muro, founder and chief executive of Tahirih Justice Center; Abdullahi Ahmed-An-Na’im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law; Cornell William Brooks, director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School; and Kathryn Sikkink, Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights at Harvard Kennedy School? 

In addition to this timely conversation about human rights — and I would argue our very humanity — we welcome back to Chautauqua the Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, chief faith officer and deputy director of Faith in Action. Michael-Ray was last with us in 2018, and his return, in some ways, reminds us of our pre-COVID times at Chautauqua. I know that he will bring his same prophetic voice to this time, taking in all we’ve learned in the past four years. I look forward to having him back.  If all of this seems a bit heavy, there’s always a mix at Chautauqua. I hope you’ll have a chance to relax and enjoy some time with Sheryl Crow with Keb’ Mo’ and Southern Avenue, and ABBA The Concert. Part of the magic of Chautauqua is mixing serious inquiry with serious fun. I know both will fit the bill! We also celebrate one of our proudest legacies at Chautauqua as one of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle’s featured authors, Erica Chenoweth, author of Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know, gives a featured talk. Our literary arts program at Chautauqua, from visiting authors to our Poetry Makerspace and so much more, enriches our lives and reminds us that Chautauqua has long had its own impact on the national conversation. In our other venues, our resident arts companies continue to dazzle with Chautauqua Opera Company’s production of Tosca, the closing week for Chautauqua Theater Company’s Indecent, the work of the Music School Festival Orchestra, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and so much more. 

On a personal note, my husband Peter and I are blessed to be the current occupants of the incredible President’s Cottage on the grounds. If you’ve ever wondered what the official home of the President looks like, I hope you have purchased your tickets for the Bird, Tree & Garden Club’s biennial Home & Garden Tour. We are excited to open the doors to our home for this very special celebration of Chautauqua architecture. You won’t see us there, however — we’ll be checking out the other homes on the tour.  

Speaking of BTG, they are one of many community-building groups at Chautauqua. I was so excited to take in our first-ever Community Activities Fair on Bestor Plaza last Sunday. I hope you’ll look out for the one this Sunday to preview the rich menu that is our community groups; I thank them all for all they do to enrich our lives here. 

We have just left Week Two and our annual celebration of our nation’s independence. I was struck by how respectfully we all asked questions about what we hope our nation will be, not just during this summer, but for the years to come. Week Three continues that fine tradition started almost 150 years ago. Thank you for adding your voices to it. Thank you for enriching it. Thank you for demonstrating that people of goodwill — albeit of varied perspectives — can come together to wrestle with important topics and still enjoy one another afterward! 

Welcome to Week Three, Chautauqua. 

We’re so glad you’re here. 

Week Two Letter from the President

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COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

I can hardly catch my breath after the remarkable first week we’ve just experienced at Chautauqua. From the opening night concert to the thought-provoking and moving experiences across all our pillars, it was exhilarating to be back with you all. If you’re joining us for the first time this summer (or ever!) as we start Week Two, we know you will add to our tremendous start and make it better by connecting and reconnecting with Chautauqua. 

Speaking of reconnecting, this week we explore “The Wild: Reconnecting with Our Natural World.” Since the middle of the 20th century, study after study suggests that humans have become more and more disconnected from the nature surrounding us. As always, our work centers on asking critical questions, including: Are we in greater need of nature than ever before? What are the physical and mental health benefits we find through reconnection? We’ll consider various movements in art, architecture, education, faith and urban planning that aim to reconnect us to our natural world. 

Our guides this week read like a who’s-who in this quest to reconnect. Bob Inglis starts us off. The founder and executive director of republicEn.org, a nationwide community of conservatives that promotes free-enterprise action on climate change, Inglis was elected to Congress in 1992, representing Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, in two stints. He is joined this week by Sally Jewell, former U.S. secretary of the interior; Kelsey Leonard, a water scientist, legal scholar, policy expert and enrolled citizen of the Shinnecock Nation; and Terry Tempest Williams, author of many books about the intersection of nature and humanity, including her most recent, Erosion: Essays of Undoing. We conclude our week with Brandon Stanton, author, photographer and founder of the street portrait blog “Humans of New York,” bringing his status as one of today’s most influential storytellers to our inquiry of reconnection. 

Our Interfaith Lecture Series theme follows the same path of “Reconnecting with the Natural World.” People and communities of faith worldwide are increasingly returning to an embrace of our spiritual-existential relationship with all of creation. In tandem with this return, religion now appears to be entering a post-dualistic, Earth-based spirituality and connection with the divine, arising out of the awareness that nature is our primary holy scripture, written on our sacred earthly home. 

Victoria Loorz leads our interfaith inquiry, offering her perspectives as the founder of the first Church of the Wild and later the Wild Church Network. Her companions on the journey this week include Faithkeeper Oren Lyons, a member of the Onondaga and Seneca Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Grand Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy – the Haudenosaunee; Fred Bahnson, the award-winning writer and author of Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith; Sophfronia Scott, novelist, essayist and a critical reflector on Thomas Merton; and John Philip Newell, a Celtic teacher and author on spirituality. 

There’s so much more to look forward to in our second week together: Ray Chen performs with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the Chautauqua School of Dance Alumni All-Star Ballet Gala, Robin Wall Kimmerer with her beloved Braiding Sweetgrass for the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle in the Hall of Philosophy, and a performance by the Broadway “rockstar” Renée Elise Goldsberry, who originated the role of Angelica Schuyler in the runaway phenomenon Hamilton. These performances accompany the opening of our Chautauqua Theater Company’s production of Indecent, Chautauqua Opera Company & Conservatory’s production of Thumbprint, and the wisdom of our chaplain of the week, the Rev. Randall K. Bush, interim head of staff for Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park, Maryland. 

Some of you may be aware that our strategic plan, 150 Forward, includes directed efforts to increase the census (number of people who attend the grounds during the season). One strategy in this arena is to engage and invite local and regional communities to get to know us and our programs. I am pleased to share that we are celebrating Buffalo Day on Tuesday, July 5. In addition, we are also working on building a relationship with the Indigenous communities in our region, and Tuesday will be our inaugural Haudenosaunee Confederacy Day. 

We also return to our various traditional Fourth of July celebrations at Chautauqua. From the Community Band performance and picnics on Monday afternoon to quiet time spent with family, we celebrate the founding of our nation, all while coming off a week that challenged us not only to closely examine America’s history, but also what we hope for our future. I personally look forward to the CSO’s annual Independence Day Celebration concert with our amazing Principal Pops Conductor Stuart Chafetz, one of the most popular events in the Amphitheater every season. 

During Week Two, as we celebrate American independence, I am struck by the polarization of our nation and how much work we have yet to do to realize the best hopes and ideals of our democratic society. I am aware from our Week One conversations that there are many among us whose circumstances and struggles might put them in a place of worry and despair — and that, in turn, might not lead to feelings of celebration for a future that seems unknown at best, and fearsome at worst. I continue to believe that what is “ours to do” is to continue asking questions throughout each week: questions of who we want to be and what work remains. These questions will bring out the best versions of ourselves. 

 These same questions and the possible paths forward presented by our speakers each week are best explored when we maintain dialogue with those with whom we agree and those with whom we disagree, and everyone in between. And, as we formulate answers, we move toward our roles in building tomorrow, here and in our home communities. When we entertain the notion that the great experiment that is America — the great experiment that is Chautauqua — is an unfinished canvas, we can recommit ourselves to doing our part to make the next brushstroke a thing of beauty. And for that spirit of discovery, reflection and engaged dialogue leading to positive action, we have much to celebrate. 

Happy Week Two, Chautauqua! 

Week One Letter from the President

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COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

You’re here! You’re back! 

As I write these words, I am peering out onto Bestor Plaza, and it brings me tremendous joy to see new and seasoned faces alike populating these sacred grounds. Whether you have been coming for decades or today is your first day, there is a ritual to this “returning” that is all the sweeter as we begin our 149th Summer Assembly season. In many ways, it feels as if we have been on a three-year journey to this season, with 2020 being an entirely online experience, 2021 serving as a “hybrid” approach, and this season with Chautauqua returning to all her splendor in our various buildings, programs and communities. Your presence here in Week One symbolizes all that and more. 

And what a Week One we have in store for you. Chautauqua is known as a place of questions — important questions — that frame how we view our nation and our world and invite each of us to consider how we view even ourselves. In this first week of summer 2022, we come right out of the gate with a provocative question: What should be America’s role in the world? More than a year into President Joe Biden’s administration, we offer a “check-in” on the state of U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy while looking historically at America’s role in the world. Our guides are among the most thoughtful and celebrated minds on the topic. From our opening lecture with Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS;” to Constanze Stelzenmüller, an expert on trans-Atlantic relations at the Brookings Institution; Kathryn Stoner, author of Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order; Kori Schake from the American Enterprise Institute; and concluding with George Packer, author of Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal, we explore a full range of political and cultural perspectives. 

In our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, we examine “America’s Global Conscience.” Looking historically at America’s almost 250-year presence on the world’s stage, we invite spiritual leaders to guide us in a conversation on what America’s role in the world should be as a leader of conscience and integrity. Our pilots through this exploration of global consciousness include my dear friend Rabbi David Saperstein, former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom; Mohamed Elsanousi from the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers; the Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle, director of the Desmond Tutu Center at General Theological Seminary in New York — a fortuitous replacement for a different Michael Battle, nominee for U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, who sadly had to decline to join us; Satpal Singh from the Religions for Peace, USA; and Georgette Bennett, founder and president of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. One personal note about Georgette: I completed my doctoral studies at Vanderbilt University this past spring, and the Tanenbaum Center played heavily in my dissertation research. On Friday, I feel like I’ll be going back to school; I hope you’ll be in the class with me.

I’m overjoyed to welcome my friend and colleague the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, to be our first chaplain of the week. Bishop Mariann’s official “seat” or “cathedra” is at Washington National Cathedral, a place where I was blessed to serve as a senior leader for many years before coming to Chautauqua. Her prophetic witness has been a clarion call for so many in our nation. Chautauquans will not want to miss her daily reflections, regardless of whether you are a person of Christian faith or no particular faith at all. Bishop Mariann is known as a uniter of people; she’s a perfect choice to open our first week.

There’s so much more happening this week from Dance Theatre of Harlem to Ben Folds; an evening with our own artistic adviser and artist-in-residence, Ukranian-born pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk, and the first downbeat of our Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Rossen Milanov. Add that to Chautauqua Opera Company & Conservatory, Chautauqua Theater Company, our stunning visual arts galleries and Joshua Bell and Larisa Martínez  — not to mention classes, clubs and gatherings of friends — and we are back to a dizzying array of activity to delight, challenge and inspire us all. Proceeds from Sasha Gavrylyuk’s concert will benefit relief efforts in Ukraine. 

I want to thank all my staff colleagues for working so hard to prepare this table for us all and for preparing our grounds and facilities to host these vital conversations. We’re curating this summer with far too few staff due to shortages felt across our country and Chautauqua County. One of the hallmarks of Chautauqua is its role as a community. I’d ask each of us to be kind to those trying to provide an outstanding service experience this summer and to bring patience as we access the rich array of resources here at Chautauqua. I saw a sign recently in an ice cream shop that read, “Remember that the person behind the counter is someone’s son or daughter, and for many, this is their first job. Be kind to them as you would want someone to be kind to a member of your family.” That’s good advice for all of us, regardless of the age of the person “behind the counter.” There’s so much rancor in the nation; let’s all work to make Chautauqua a place that leads with kindness and generous assumptions. When we do that, we not only make our own community a better place, but we also model what we hope to find in the society that we are all tasked with creating for the better. 

Welcome to Week One of Chautauqua’s Summer Assembly. You are continuing the tradition celebrated 148 times before this summer. As it is every year, it will be an honor to tap the gavel Sunday three times to start our journey together. Perhaps we look at our Week One question slightly differently: What should be Chautauqua’s role in the world? We get to choose from the start. May our actions and our inquiry be one that leads to joy and discovery. 

Welcome home, Chautauqua!

Final 2021 Letter from the President

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COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

President Michael E. Hill is joined on the front steps of the President’s Cottage by 5s from Children’s School’s Blue and Yellow Rooms.

Each week I have the privilege of writing a letter to the Chautauqua community exploring what we’ve just experienced and what’s to come as we progress through our Summer Assembly. As we close out each summer together, I have two opportunities to reflect with one: the closing Three Taps of the Gavel address and one last column. I’ll save most of my thoughts for Three Taps (no, not the eatery and gathering space you’ve come to enjoy — the speech)!  

Today, I want to share with you far wiser words than those I might pen. Each summer of my presidency, I have invited young people from Children’s School to the President’s Cottage to share their thoughts on the future of Chautauqua. I have one of their letters framed in my Washington, D.C. office — it takes up a seven-foot-tall pillar. These youngest Chautauquans annually deliver to me what I call the “Children’s 95 Theses.” In their words I see the hopes and dreams of not only today’s Chautauqua, but the Chautauqua of tomorrow.   

For my closing column to you, I share their words, which contain the passion, joy and longing for all we’ve experienced and all we hope to experience. I thank them for their annual reminder of the best in human values. I thank them for grounding me in my promise to be a servant leader for this sacred place. I see in their eyes all the reasons to push forward — even through a global pandemic — to make sure Chautauqua endures. 

Thank you for a great summer. I hope to see you in the Amp for Three Taps (or online if you cannot be with us). To quote these little ones: “We love Chautauqua! And don’t worry, we’re coming back next year … YOU BET!” 


Dear President Hill, 

Thank you for taking the time to meet with your 2021 Children’s School Advisory Board, made up of the 5-year-olds of the Blue and Yellow Rooms. We understand that you’ve had a lot going on in the past couple years and that life during a pandemic is still a bit crazy. With all that in mind, we thought we would carry on the tradition of offering a few revitalizing recommendations, as well as reminders of why this place is so special. We love Chautauqua and are so proud that we can help you make it even more wonderful! 

A few things we love about Chautauqua are …  

  • Being here with our families (especially the ones we haven’t seen!) 
  • The Bell Tower and bats
  • Riding the bus
  • Beaches and boats
  • Riding our bike
  • Playgrounds
  • Reuniting with old friends and making new ones
  • And of course … Children’s School!

Here are some ideas for potential improvements: 

  • More dirt so we can plant more flowers
  • Build a giant playground with a petting zoo
  • Add more trees so people can breathe better
  • Another bookstore with toys, too
  • Boating lessons for kids
  • More children’s books at the library
  • Fewer cars (so we can bike and play safely)
  • Throw Chautauqua an even BIGGER birthday party
  • Even more trees so we can have more books!
  • (Maybe we should make a tree zoo?)
  • More BATS and BUTTERFLIES and BEES!

We understand that these may be a bit beyond what you can do, but just in case, we’d like: 

  • To make all the bad people nice
  • Help the homeless
  • Donate toys to kids in the hospital
  • No more pandemics, please
  • Children’s School all year long!

It’s been a long year, and some of us didn’t have the chance to be here last year. While this made us sad, we are so grateful to be here with family and friends, all safe and happy. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help make your job a little easier. Thank you and your staff for all your hard work that allowed us to be here again.

We love Chautauqua! And don’t worry, we’re coming back next year … YOU BET!

Week Nine Letter from the President

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COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

Resilience.

If there was ever a word to describe the fact that we are at Week Nine of our Summer Assembly, “resilience” may be the perfect choice. For all we have been through over the past year and a half to get to this place, where we can conclude an entirely in-person season, it seems more than appropriate that we conclude our Summer Assembly exploring this one word that says so much more about you, me and our global society.

This week we look at some compelling questions: What drives people to keep going when forces outside their control work against them? And what does that tell us about our humanity and hope for the future? We close our 2021 season looking at the resilience that emerged during a tumultuous 2020. From a global pandemic to the quest for racial equality, we reflect on a revealing, historic period by lifting up the stories and the lessons of those who refused to give up, give in or go away.

Our guides this week could not be more perfect. Lynsey Addario is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who covers conflict zones across the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. In 2000, she traveled to Afghanistan to document life under the Taliban. Given the past week’s events, I can only imagine what she might share with us. Francoise Adan is the Chief Whole Health and Wellbeing Officer for University Hospitals and the director for the UH Connor Integrative Health Network. She will explore a model of resilience she formalized for health care and how we might think about resilience in the midst of a global pandemic. Keisha N. Blain is an award-winning historian of the 20th century with specializations in African-American history, the modern African Diaspora, and women’s and gender studies. She will bring all of this to a riveting discussion of resistance and resilience in the face of racism. And we end the week with Evan Osnos, a National Book Award-winning author and staff writer for The New Yorker, who will take all we’ve been through to discuss the resilience of American Democracy and where we go from here.

Sometimes our morning lecture theme is so appropriate, it only makes sense to carry it forward into our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, which also explores the topic of resilience this week, and the questions remain the same. In these set of conversations, we add a faith dimension through the words and stories of Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Meyers, who has served as the Rabbi and Cantor for the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the site of one of the worst attacks on a Jewish place of worship in the United States. Irish-born international bestseller Colum McCann who uses modern-day narratives to explore the resilience from the grief of tremendous loss, and we conclude with a Chautauqua — and personal! — favorite, Diana Butler Bass. Dr. Bass is an award-winning author, popular speaker and preacher, and one of America’s most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality. I know her words of wisdom will be a fitting and moving coda to this group’s reflections.

And while we are in this deep and appropriate discussion about resilience, we know one of the tools is to have fun and to experience joy! We will get that this week with a dream lineup of four great big-name concerts: The Roots + Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue on Saturday, Old Crow Medicine Show on Thursday, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit on Friday, and Smokey Robinson next Saturday, Aug. 28. I’m truly excited to see Jason Isbell, as my brother-in-law Paul has been promoting him at family dinners for a while. This week we also continue to build the impressive roster of guest dance companies that Chautauqua engages, as Parsons Dance visits the Amphitheater stage Monday evening. Our own Chautauqua Theater Company closes Thurgood with two performances this weekend. And as we progress through the week we mark the closing of the amazing exhibitions at our two world-class Chautauqua Visual Arts galleries — be sure to walk through the Fowler-Kellogg and Strohl art centers before they close toward the end of the week (you can find individual exhibition closing dates in this week’s yellow program listing insert).

Finally, I hope you will enjoy the bounty of our home Chautauqua County region as presented in our Culinary Week celebration at Miller Park, near Miller Bell Tower. We’re honored to provide a space for two local festivals — Jamestown’s Scandinavian Festival and St. James Italian Festival — to fundraise and showcase their wonderful food and culture, not to mention fund-raise, after two years of cancelations. Plus, we’ll have many of the beloved food, drink and craft vendors you may have come to know in previous years’ festivals on Bestor Plaza. (And if you need to work off any of those fantastic food offerings, don’t forget about the myriad ways you can experience Chautauqua’s recreation pillar!)

While I know it took great resilience to get to this place in our Chautauqua journey, being back together amidst the backdrop of a continuing pandemic, I also know that it’s been a joy for our team to be with you again. I’ll have one last chance to reflect in my last column of the season, this one bringing the words from our youngest Chautauquans. Watching them makes being resilient worth it all!

Have a great Week Nine, friends!

Week Eight Letter from the President

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COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

As we enter Week Eight of our season, I am struck by the complexity of the issues we’ve covered during this Chautauqua Summer Assembly. China, “Bridging our Divides,” empathy and our just-concluded look at “The State of the Economy.” All of these — and the many others — have an ingredient in common: our human ability to be curious and to learn. But have we ever considered what’s behind it all? This week we take a stab at that as we explore “The Human Brain: Our Greatest Mystery.” 

Neurophysiologist and Nobel Laureate David Hubel once asked, “Can the brain understand the brain? Can it understand the mind? Is it a giant computer … or something more?” In this week, we explore the folds and recesses of this distinctly human mystery, bringing together neuroscientists and psychologists to chart a path through the enigma of our consciousness, through the impacts of trauma and stress on our health, through the gray matter and the white matter, neurons and synapses, the wiring that embodies our cognition, that sparks our selves. 

I’m grateful for our guides who will help us unpack this very “heady” week. Angus Fletcher is one of the foremost scholars on the neuroscience of storytelling and starts our week in a very Chautauqua way, by blending two disciplines: science and literature. Longtime Chautauqua program contributor Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, will lead a conversation with former director of the National Institute of Mental Health Thomas Insel and judge Steven Leifman that looks at the brain and mental health as the start of a series of conversations we will continue beyond the Summer Assembly on CHQ Assembly. We then move to neuroscientist Bianca Jones Marlin, whose research investigates the relationship between the innate and the learned, and we close out the week with neuro-ethicist Nita Farahany, who explores the ethical dimensions of what we know and where it goes. While the Chautauqua Lecture Series tackles this cerebral puzzle, we look to perhaps a deeper frame in our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, which examines “The Human Soul: Our Ineffable Mystery.” Most people sense and recognize another dimension beyond the physical plane of our existence and call the personal inner reality that this dimension connotes the human “soul,” known also as the “spirit” or “life force.” Recognition of this inner reality is the basis of most religions, but remains difficult to define or explain. In this week we will hear various interpretations of this ineffable human experience. I think this blending of head and heart provides a powerful frame as we enter the latter part of our Chautauqua season. 

There’s so much more happening on the grounds. This week we welcome back the incomparable Capathia Jenkins with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra under the baton of our Principal Pops Conductor Stuart Chafetz as well as Black Violin, the Grammy-nominated duo that blends classical and hip-hop music to overcome stereotypes of what it means to be a classical musician, while proving there are no limits to what we can achieve. We also get to celebrate the continued work of our student artists with the second School of Dance Student Gala. The first one brought rave reviews of these talents, and I know you’ll enjoy this one just as much. 

We offer a special welcome to the Sphinx Artists on Thursday, a quintet from the nation’s most dynamic professional chamber orchestra composed of top Black and Latinx classical soloists.  This presentation is a manifestation of a wonderful partnership with the Sphinx organization that has come to life both here on the grounds and on CHQ Assembly over the past few years. Chautauqua Theater Company’s Thurgood at the Pavilion, Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle and African American Heritage House lecture presentations on CHQ Assembly, and a Friday night with The Wood Brothers make Week Eight a wonderfully diverse and week of experiences that will, no doubt, get the synapses firing! 

As we journey through this week and look toward Week Nine, I want to thank all of you for your care and patience as we continue to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on staffing levels and on new protocols. I am so grateful we’ve been able to convene in person this year together. Let’s continue to be kind and patient with one another, recognizing that Chautauqua only works when we all work together as a community. In the spirit of this week, thanks for bringing your head and soul to that endeavor. Have a great week!

Week Seven Letter from the President

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COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

How in the world did we get to the last third of our Summer Assembly?! It boggles the mind, but here we are in Week Seven, and what a week we have in store for you as we explore “The State of the Economy: Where Do We Go From Here?” To say that the last 12 to 18 months have been a rollercoaster would be an understatement, in all its dimensions, but on what ride did that rollercoaster take our economy? In this week, we’ll look at what’s driving the rebuilding of the economy in the wake of, and while still contending with, COVID-19. In the summer of 2021 — a year and a half after the pandemic plunged the U.S. into recession — we examine the state of “recovery” from Main Street to Wall Street; what has been lost and what has thrived; and what the crisis has laid bare in terms of necessary investments and structural reforms. How do we make our economy more resilient? 

During this week we consider what building a new economy can and should look like, beyond high employment and growing businesses. Do we want an economy that looks like the one we had on Jan. 1, 2020, or one that is more just in the distribution of wealth? What have we learned in the months following “reopening,” and what are we learning from the approaches of other nations? What — and who — have we deemed essential in this new and evolving economy? 

To help us unpack these complex questions, we’re joined by a “who’s who” of guides: American Public Media’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer; the new president of the American Enterprise Institute, Robert Doar; Raphael Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; and Rebecca Henderson, one of 25 University Professors at Harvard, whose recent book may capture it best: Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire. 

In our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, we ask an economic question about justice as we look at “Creating an Economy that Works for All.” A society failing to uphold justice for all is not a just society. A just society supports health care, work opportunity and wage justice, and bridges the divides that create life-diminishing inequalities in education and access to essential services. It bridges wealth gaps and promotes the opportunity to thrive for all. In this week, we’ll ask: How do religion and ethical humanism make demands upon economic policy, and what difference does this make? I’m so excited that my friend and Chautauqua favorite Sr. Joan Chittister will lead us off in this exploration. I’ve come to realize that there simply is not a thing Joan cannot dissect with great moral clarity and vision. 

Naturally, I’m ecstatic to welcome Harry Connick Jr. to our Amphitheater stage this week. I feel as if his music has been the soundtrack to my life. What a treat to share with you someone who made being a crooner popular again — he has more No. 1 albums than almost any jazz artist living today. What a joy to have him cap off our Week Seven. But don’t look past our arts offerings earlier in the week: the final performance of our 2021 Chautauqua Opera Company Young Artists during Saturday’s Opera & Pops concert with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra; the first gala performance of our amazing School of Dance students on Monday; the premiere of Chautauqua Theater Company’s Thurgood, starring Brian Marable, on Friday; and the incredible exhibitions at our world-class Chautauqua Visual Arts Galleries, including the work of the 2021 School of Art cohort. This week on the economy is truly rich and full of artistry as well. 

One final note as we start this week: I was so grateful to be with so many of you this past week as we celebrated Old First Night. Chautauqua turned 147 this year, and I think we’ve aged quite well. Thanks for being a part of this very special year and this very important week. 

Week Six Letter from the President

Hill_Michael

COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

As I flipped through the latest issue of Time, I came across a timely article about a 2020 study by the Society for Human Resource Management titled the “State of Workplace Empathy.” The article was titled “The Empathy Trap,” which should signal that Week Six at Chautauqua is anything but a “group hug,” feel-good week. In the workplace, the 2020 study noted that people are tired from working all the time — further exacerbated by the no-boundaries, at-home office during COVID — trying to sort out caregiving responsibilities from the young to those needing elder care and dealing with the ever-changing threat levels of COVID-19. All of that makes sense, but here’s the kicker as it relates to our week: most of those interviewed for the study also found that Americans, in general, have an “empathy deficit.” 

This week at Chautauqua, we explore “Building a Culture of Empathy.” Creating understanding and compassion, empathy is critical in navigating our world and building community. Empathy might have a reputation associated with emotionality or sentimentality, but science indicates that it’s wired into our very being, with practical applications in lives. What does empathy look like in action, from healing systemic divides and leading through times of crisis? Instilling and normalizing empathy has the potential to help us connect across our most polarizing differences and survive our most tragic times, so how can we work together to build a lasting culture of empathy? 

And here’s some additional food for thought from recent studies on empathy: most Americans want to be the recipient of it, but aren’t keen to provide it if it pushes their own understanding of the world. As the Time article noted about one employee’s views, “it has to be OK if I mess up sometimes” but that same employee wasn’t open to giving their employer the same grace. This sounds a lot like the divides we were exploring in previous weeks, right? So what do we do about it? 

In our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, we look at a week with the same title. In recent years, a trait frequently cited as essential to the flourishing of humankind is empathy, an impulse manifested in all the world’s religions. Connected with compassion and altruism, it arises out of a willingness to care, to endeavor to understand, and to place oneself within the human experiences of others. In this week, we seek interfaith voices who are living this capacity, and inspiring and motivating it in others. Perhaps there are some answers to our earlier questions from the likes of Brian McLaren or Edgar Rodriguez or Jose Arellano or Steve Avalos? 

Continuing our dialogues on the climate, Chautauqua’s Climate Change Initiative this week partners with Chautauqua Cinema to present the film “The Magnitude of All Things” and the short, “What About Our Future?” in collaboration with Toronto’s Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival. Show time is 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 6, and it’s included with Traditional and Grounds Access Passes, though space in the cinema is limited. Reservations can be made at chautauquacinema.com

While we spend our week on empathy, I want to thank Chautauquans — staff and non-staff participants — for the empathy exhibited as we had to implement our COVID protocols in our Youth and Family Programs this past week. We navigate more than themes in community; we also embrace moments of challenge and moments of celebration. I hope we’ll be back to full youth programming soon, and I’m looking forward to Old First Night and the Old First Night Run/Walk, reminders of the rich legacy, heritage and fortitude that has served Chautauqua for almost 150 years. As we enter Week Six, let’s bring that fortitude and faith, empathy and example, to all we do. Have a great week, Chautauqua! 

Week Five Letter from the President

Hill_Michael

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! 

Week Four Letter from the President

Hill_Michael

COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

Welcome to Week Four at Chautauqua. As I write this message to you, we are completing the first third of our Summer Assembly — a most remarkable one that is flying by! 

It seems like the perfect transition to complete a week on “Trust, Society and Democracy” and move to a week in which we acknowledge that we have work to do to create the America we want to see now and for the future. In this week, we explore “Many Americas: Navigating Our Divides.” We are many geographies, many economies, many cultures, many beliefs. We are a nation of differences and divides, and in a summer following a presidential election and a devastating pandemic that has thrown those divides into stark relief, we look to better understand those many Americas, the barriers — real or perceived — that keep us apart, and together consider how we navigate our differences in charting a future for our nation. 

Our guides this week couldn’t be more perfect. On a personal note, I’m elated to welcome my friend and colleague Amanda Ripley to frame our week. Amanda and I worked together when I served as president and CEO of Youth For Understanding. Her ground-breaking book, The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way, chronicled the journey of several exchange students as a way to shine a light on the world’s education disparities. Her new book, High Conflict: Why We Got Trapped and How We Get Out, starts our week on “divides” from a frame of how to unify. She will be joined by editor and author David French on Tuesday, scholar and author Katherine Cramer on Wednesday, and one of our nation’s preeminent public intellectuals, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., on Thursday to close the week. 

In our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, we explore “The Evolving Religious Narrative of America.” In this week we explore the evolving American religious narrative and identity, and to continue the theme of “Michael’s favorite thinkers,” we start the week with my very dear friend Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core. Eboo is a Chautauqua favorite, having been here many times, challenging our assumptions and showing us an enlightened path toward a “more perfect union.” He is joined on the platform by Michael Martin, executive director of the Native American Community Services in Erie and Niagara counties, exploring the ways in which the American quest impacts native peoples, on Tuesday; and Gary Phillip Zola, bringing us a perspective from the Jewish tradition in this important evolving narrative of religion in America, on Wednesday. 

Friday morning brings a special Meet the Filmmaker opportunity to Chautauqua Cinema: “A Reckoning in Boston” will be presented at 10 a.m. with the filmmaker James Rutenbeck and producer and film subject Kafi Dixon engaging with the audience following the film. We give thanks to Cinema operator Billy Schmidt for his collaboration on this and several other events this summer.

While there are countless things to be excited about in a Chautauqua week, I’m delighted that our Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will bring us a relatively new tradition as they provide the exquisite soundtrack to Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” on Saturday night in the Amphitheater. With all of the serious exploration we do around our themes, it’s great to be reminded to have some fun, all while celebrating the incredible artistry of our very own CSO. 

Week Three, from my perspective, was a great example of the balance we always strive for in our lecture platforms, sharing perspectives from left, right and center on an important topic of trust and democracy. I look forward to all we’ll learn together in Week Four, and may we use the wisdom of our speakers, preachers, teachers and artists — and one another — to close the gap on our divides. 

Have a great week, Chautauqua! I know I will, because you’re here. 

Week Three Letter from the President

Hill_Michael

COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

Welcome to Week Three at Chautauqua. I cannot believe we will close out the first third of our Assembly at the conclusion of this week. It proves the old adage: “Time flies when you’re having fun!” For those who have been with us the entire season, thanks for being a part of the fun. For those just coming to Chautauqua this week, thanks for joining us. 

This week, we cover one of the most important themes of this Summer Assembly as we explore “Trust, Society and Democracy.” While recent work from the Pew Research Center had previously indicated our growing distrust in social institutions and of each other in making democratic decisions, the past year has brought this crisis of trust to a critical inflection point. In this week, we’ll ask some big questions: How can trust be restored, and how do we maintain a healthy level of skepticism that doesn’t devolve into something worse? The internet and social media have clearly accelerated and inflamed this troubling trend — what role can they play in reversing it? What do we do with institutions that society has declared broken, and what must institutions do to rebuild trust with those they serve? Perhaps most importantly, how can we work to regain trust with one another? This is a vintage Chautauqua set of questions that go to the heart of what we believe here: that we cannot fully discover the truths of life in isolation. This week we put our convening authority to the test, and I implore all who join in the conversation to enter into each lecture, encounter and artistic expression — and all the conversations that follow on Bestor Plaza, at the Athenaeum and on our porches — truly seeking to understand before being understood. Last week’s lecturer R. Alta Charo referred to Chautauqua as a “big tent community.” I couldn’t agree more, and that’s the reason that we will look at “The Ethical Foundations of a Fully Functioning Society” in our companion Interfaith Lecture Series. Socrates and his student Plato entered the discourse on ethics by way of a question that became central in Greek thought and is still relevant today: What is the relation between virtue, excellence of character, and personal and societal happiness? For the flourishing of a society, the Greek philosophers believed in reverence and justice, as well as the objectivity of goodness, as the links for knowing what is good and doing it. In this week we will discern the ethical foundations of a fully functioning society, and we will use Chautauqua as our lived experiment. I’m excited about the ways that these two sets of conversations intersect and push us to explore the best in human values. 

This is also a big week in the arts, as Saturday night our beloved Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra makes its return to the Amphitheater stage. I’m grateful for the flexibility and creativity demonstrated by Maestro Rossen Milanov and these musicians in preparing for an unusual but greatly meaningful season of music-making. The CSO will also combine with our incredible Music School Festival Orchestra on Thursday for a joint performance not to be missed. That same night in the Performance Pavilion on Pratt, the students of Marlena Malas’ Voice Program stage the opera Hansel & Gretel, and elsewhere in the week Chautauqua Theater Company and Chautauqua Opera Company continue runs of the thought-provoking productions Blood at the Root (Wednesday) and Scalia/Ginsburg (Friday). And don’t forget to find your way to our amazing Chautauqua Visual Arts galleries, or to watch our Piano Competition winners in Sunday’s recital. It’s a remarkably rich week of artistic offerings. 

Please allow me to close this week’s letter to Chautauquans with an emphasis on the first word of this week’s theme: trust. Each year I receive letters sent to my office and via email from Chautauquans who wish to express either delight or dismay about something happening on the grounds. I take each of these letters very seriously as a conduit into what you’re experiencing, and I endeavor to provide each one a response: sometimes from me and very often from a member of my team who is better suited to address a specific concern. I’m grateful to all who take the time to express an opinion. Each summer, however, I receive a very small batch of “anonymous” letters that are simply addressed to me with either no signature or a cryptic descriptor such as “a homeowner” appended. I received two such letters this week. I’d like to respectfully ask Chautauquans to lean into the word “trust” and to always sign your letters. Anonymous letters aren’t actionable, as they eliminate the ability to have a dialogue. Please trust that we value your opinions, but please also know that unactionable letters will unfortunately be that: unactionable. 

Lastly, I want to express my deep thanks for the trust that so many Chautauquans have placed in our team to manage our beloved Chautauqua through the pandemic and into this first season assembly in person again. I recently came across this sign in my social media feed: 

So many of you have stopped members of our team to share your gratitude for simply “showing up” this summer. We feel the same deep appreciation for you. As we enter Week Three, please know that I’m aware that lines are longer than we’d all like at the Brick Walk Cafe, that menus are more limited because of staffing shortages. At Chautauqua, we are down hundreds of seasonal employees compared to our usual summer. Thank you to all who have shown kindness to our front-line colleagues. Know that they are hustling as fast as humanly possible to make your Chautauqua experience a magical one. Know we are all grateful for your patience and understanding. 

Trust, Society and Democracy. I can think of no better place to practice each than at Chautauqua. Welcome to Week Three! 

Week Two Letter from the President

Hill_Michael

COLUMN BY MICHAEL E. HILL

Welcome to Week Two of our 2021 Summer Assembly. It was so invigorating to be with many of you as we explored the role of China in the world. If you were with us last week, I hope you left with a greater understanding of the ways in which China in its many manifestations — politically, economically, culturally — is part of the very complex fabric of our world. From artistic expression to our various lecture platforms, Week One was an example of Chautauqua at its finest. It was made all better by having you here. 

For those joining us for Week Two, you come during the exploration of a fascinating topic, as we look at “New Frontiers: Exploring Today’s Unknowns.” If COVID taught us nothing else, it was that we can’t always see what’s around the corner. In this week, we acknowledge that there is so much left to explore and discover — and the more humans explore, the more we learn how much remains undiscovered. On the Chautauqua Lecture Series platform, we consider throughout the week these new frontiers in science, health, technology and the environment, and look to where new insights are being gained every day. I’m excited that we get a chance to welcome the new explorers, the next generation of innovators, to learn what work they’re doing on the cutting edge of these fields, exploring the extraordinary and making the unknown, known. 

In our companion Interfaith Lecture Series, we explore “New Frontiers: Exploring the Future of Religion in America.” Long regarded as one of the most religious countries in the world, America is showing signs of losing that distinction, as successive generations begin to claim more spirituality and less religiosity, and with greater frequency self-identifying as neither, indeed as “none of the above.” In this week we look toward what a changing religious landscape in America would look and act like. 

This is also a week of traditions here at Chautauqua, as we celebrate the Fourth of July — this year with the Music School Festival Orchestra and the Chautauqua Community Band. From parades and picnics, we celebrate the founding of our nation, with all its imperfections and accomplishments. One of the reasons I love Chautauqua is that we know that loving something doesn’t mean that we don’t challenge it, and I’m excited that our speakers, preachers and artists will continue in this week to ask questions about the American ideal as we celebrate the very founding of the nation. 

Speaking of using the arts to look more deeply at our society, if you haven’t seen Chautauqua Theater Company’s production of Blood at the Root, please be sure to take in a performance of it at our new Performance Pavilion on Pratt. Stori Ayers, CTC’s associate artistic director, is one of my favorite storytellers, and you won’t want to miss her direction that asks whether justice is really blind. 

We welcome a great preacher to unpack our week, as well, with the Rev. Zina Jacque, the lead pastor at Community Church of Barrington in Illinois. She has served on the staffs of multicultural, urban and suburban churches, and has done extensive work in the areas of education, counseling and support programs. Rev. Jacque was the founder and first executive director of the Pastoral Counseling Center of Trinity Church (Episcopal) in Boston. In this role she implemented training on mental health issues for local pastors and led the center in the delivery of direct service hours to economically disenfranchised people across greater Boston. Now in its 18th year, it remains a unique center serving the greater Boston area. She is a prophetic voice for our time and a great guide for the week. 

Elsewhere in the week, we celebrate the beginning of the Chautauqua Opera Company’s mainstage season with the premiere of Scalia/Ginsburg on Friday at the Pavilion. I commend General and Artistic Director Steven Osgood and his entire team for pulling together a creative season that will surprise and delight. This opening operatic comedy lifts up an unlikely friendship that proves that our disagreements, however deep, don’t have to define how we relate to each other. It’s a message that many of us, and many of our leaders, would do well to hear and heed.  

Finally, if you’re just arriving on the grounds, I hope you’ll take time to check out our newest food and drink venue, 3 Taps and The A Truck, lakeside at the Pier Building and Miller Bell Tower. It has already proved to be a popular space for friends and family to reunite, reacquaint and reminisce. Perhaps you’ll find it to be a similarly accommodating space for you and yours this celebratory holiday week. Please also remember to tune into CHQ Assembly at 10:20 a.m. weekdays just prior to the morning lecture as host Amy Oshier previews the day’s events live on CHQ for U. If you miss the live presentation, it’s also available each day on demand through the end of the week.  On Friday mornings, we present an extended version of the show, looking ahead to the week to come.

As I mentioned in my opening Three Taps address, this summer is still one of experimentation for us as we emerge from COVID-19. I want to thank all of you for your understanding as we operate Chautauqua in new and sometimes augmented ways. As we go through this second week of our season, I ask all to remember the tremendous joy of gathering in community again. When we get it right, let’s celebrate with one another. When we miss the mark, I’d ask your understanding and forgiveness, allowing frustration to be tempered by the joy of gathering in the first place. That is the best of Chautauqua shining through, and your return is the greatest sign of joy we all feel. Welcome to Week Two!

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