Children’s School Fourth of July Parade



The Children’s School celebrates Independence Day with its annual parade, which begins at the Children’s School and ends in front of the Colonnade.  In the video, students from the Children’s School sing “This Land is Your Land” in front of the Colonnade.

Video by Haldan Kirsch

Photos by Haldan Kirsh and Riley Robinson

  • Students from the Children's School sing "This Land is Your Land" outside of the Colonnade during the Fourth of July Parade on Wednesday, July 4, 2018. HALDAN KIRSCH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER


The Power of Words

  • Wick Poetry fellow Sony Ton-Aime explains the process of making a blackout poem to Jamestown High School students during a CLSC Young Readers Program event in the Poetry Makerspace, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. BRIAN HAYES/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

“I am offering this poem to you, since I have nothing else to give,” read Vanessa DeStevens, a Jamestown High School student, on the steps of the Colonnade. The words, written by Jimmy Santiago Baca, rang out from the blue-haired DeStevens with palpable emotion.

Jamestown High School students visited the Poetry Makerspace on Wednesday to learn about poetry as part of both the CLSC Young Readers program and a new event called Stanzas on the Plaza. Several students had the opportunity to read poems to a crowd.

The Poetry Makerspace currently houses the Traveling Stanzas exhibit from Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center.

The exhibit allows people to experience poetry in an accessible and tactile way, with iPads that let guests create blackout poems and word blocks to display on the wall.

“It’s a great opportunity to write poetry,” said Linda Poelma, a Chautauquan. “It’s difficult and I never liked it. But this sounds fun to me. I’ll try it.”

Chautauqua Literary Arts is also reaching out to area high school students, so they have an opportunity to experience the Makerspace, something they would not get to do in a classroom.

Poetry was something Anthony Weber, a sophomore at Jamestown High School thought about before, but this year those thoughts were much stronger. Weber credits his teachers with introducing him to the programs at Chautauqua.

Poetry has given Weber and many high school students like him an outlet for their thoughts and emotions.

“It helps me talk about my feelings in a different form,” Weber said.

Gallery : Black Violin Performance

  • Black Violin performs in the Amphitheater Wednesday, June 27, 2018. RILEY ROBINSON/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

“Black Violin” performed on Tuesday, June 26 at 8:15 p.m. The performance combined a blend of genres, including classical, hip-hop, rock, and R&B by Kevin “Kev Marcus” Syvlester and and Wilner “Wil” Baptiste to the public of Chautauqua Institution.

Brick Walk Book Walk



The first-ever Brick Walk Book Walk occurred Sunday June 24 on Bestor Plaza. The new event started at the Poetry Makerspace and ended at the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall, and was held to celebrate the Week One theme of “The Life of the Written Word.” The Brick Walk Book Walk continues from noon to 2 p.m. Monday June 25.



Father and son race to repair Chautauqua’s Massey Memorial Organ




A new keyboard for the Massey Memorial Organ arrived from London on June 20, escorted by Chautauqua police. The original keys were ivory, but the replacements are made of bleached calf bone to comply with federal law. According to organ builder Paul Fischer, good keys are never plastic — they must be porous to absorb sweat and oils from the organist’s fingers.  

Repairs to the Massey Organ began in January, after snowmelt damaged the organ’s console. Paul and Mark Fischer, the father and son who reconstructed the organ in 1992, have been racing to finish repairs before the season’s start.

“I’m beyond excited,” said Jared  Jacobsen, Chautauqua’s organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music. “I’ve been living and breathing this whole thing for months.”  


Gallery: First-ever Food Festival invites Chautauqua community to learn together


Gallery: New Amphitheater serves as a home to Chautauquans


Chautauqua Institution has rarely seen as ambitious and momentous a project in its 144-year history as the off-season rebuild of its central gathering and programming space, the Amphitheater. Despite occasional setbacks through a nine-month process of major construction, the space was largely ready to host programs and audiences for its inaugural season in 2017. The reviews were almost universally positive. The new facility keeps and enhances what made its predecessor so beloved (among them the open-air and free-flowing atmosphere, the Massey Memorial Organ, and the cream color scheme that serves as a neutral backdrop for Chautauqua’s vivid and varied palette of programming) and introduces a number of necessary improvements  (among them better accessibility, the orchestra pit and larger stage, and more seating with better sight lines) that will serve patrons and programs well for decades.

Since opening night on June 24, the venue has been in nearly 24/7 operation. When the lights fade Sunday night following President Michael E. Hill’s tap-tap-tap of the gavel, the Amp will enter a period of rest, with a few finishing touches still awaiting it over the off-season. It will be a deserved slumber.

Included in this photo spread are a selection of Daily photos from the Amp in its first season of service as Chautauqua’s primary house of worship, lecture hall, performance venue and community gathering space.

Gallery: Chautauquans observe solar eclipse


Gallery: Chautauqua Cinema serves as a spot of wonder


The Chautauqua Cinema, currently owned by Bill Schmidt, is hidden at the corner of Hurst and Wythe. Built of pressed brick with terra cotta trimmings, the pitch-roofed theater seats about 350. Since its construction in 1895 as Higgins Hall, the cinema has become a spot of wonder for all ages.

Through the installation of Dolby Digital six-channel sound in 2003, HD digital projection in 2007, and conversion to DCI digital distribution in 2014, Schmidt is determined to provide the best viewing experience for Chautauquans.

By 2014, major film studios stopped converting 35mm film, rebranding the standard format to DCP: “Digital copy-protected (media).” With the new equipment totaling $100,000, Schmidt turned to his patrons. Hundreds came forward, accepting lifetime admissions in exchange for donor statuses. Through this program, Schmidt came to truly get to know his audience personally.

“Programming is the hardest, most interesting part,” Schmidt said. “I have a spreadsheet of movies that might interest me, and might interest Chautauqua. We’re stretching that boundary; we’ve gone all the way to horror. I showed ‘Get Out,’ a brilliantly made debut from a great mind. Did everyone who came to see it love it? No. It may have been pushing people too far, but it’s a horror film, and a funny one. People come with their expectations — I’m trying to give people what they want.”

Movie discs addressed to “Projectionist” are sent regularly from Technicolor distributors.

“The biggest hit we ever had was the premiere for ‘For The Bible Tells Me So,’ Schmidt said. “We sold that out three days straight, every show. Thousands of people came. … One of the biggest unexpected blockbuster hits I remember was ‘March of the Penguins.’ Turns out everybody wanted to see penguins.”

The cinema’s main projector runs with Dolby’s cinema server, Doremi, with three hard drives that run simultaneously during each movie. They can collectively hold six terabytes of film — equivalent to about 15 movies.

Roger Ebert said that “cinema is a machine that generates empathy.”

“It’s a way to explore humanity and culture with three points,” Schmidt said, “music, visuals and a great story.”


Gallery: Behind the scenes of ‘Romeo & Juliet’


Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, which opens this weekend, is the final show of the Chautauqua Theater Company season. It is the only time during the season the entire conservatory — all 14 actors, four design fellows and one directing fellow — comes together.

“I really feel like it’s our show,” said conservatory actor Jules Latimer, the production’s Benvolio and narrator. “I think it’s going to be really special, in that we all have spent so much time together here, and the whole play is about love, and it’s about things that are just incredible, that you just can’t control. I think a lot of us really identify with that at any age.”

Beyond the conservatory, the all-hands-on-deck production depends on the work of guest actors, visiting stage designers and coaches, and the backstage crew. Daily staff photographer Erin Clark has been documenting their work on Romeo & Juliet since the beginning of the season. — Text by Dara McBride


Gallery: Color Run leaves Chautauquans covered in color


Gallery: Team Red takes Chautauqua Team Tennis Tournament title


Gallery: Voice students and Music School Festival Orchestra come together for opera scenes performance


Gallery: Punch Brothers perform with I’m With Her and Julian Lage


Gallery: Children’s School participates in ‘Art in the Park’ event


Gallery: Students from the VACI School of Art unload artwork

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