Mon June 25, 2012
Chautauqua Institution begins 139th season
The 139th season of the Chautauqua Institution is underway. The nine-week season is expected to attract 170,000 visitors.
Chautauqua is truly unique -- a place where visitors spend their summer vacation learning and expanding their horizons. The community is bustling with the start of the summer season. Chautauqua President Tom Becker likens it to the excitement students and teachers experience each year on the first day of school.
"It's one of my favorite times when the Institution opens," Becker said. "We have a really strong population for whom Chautauqua is a regular part of their lives. So they come back with such joy and enthusiasm."
This week's theme is an exploration of the literary arts. Chautauqua favorite, author Roger Rosenblatt, returns to host the morning lecture series with some of his friends, TV producer and writer Norman Lear and cartoonist and author Jules Feiffer, among others.
But it's not all seriousness during the Chautauqua season. There's music, theatre, dance and more. Tuesday night, Vice President of Programming Marty Merkely says harmony will fill the Chautauqua Amphitheatre courtesy of a group known as the Swingle Singers.
"They were formed in 1963. They are the ones who kept close harmony singing alive," said Merkely.
Then Friday night at 8:15 at the Amphitheatre, "Celebrate the '60s" with Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. Also premiering Friday night at the Bratton Theatre is the Chautauqua Theatre production of "The Philadelphia Story." Theatre Director Vivienne Benesch says many people are already familiar with the movie of the same name and the story.
"It's an incredibly witty, heart-felt play and couldn't be better summer fare for the opening of our season," Benesch said.
Another highlight of the week comes Thursday afternoon at the Hall of Philosophy when the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle honors author Billy Collins and his new book of poetry, "Horoscopes for the Dead."