Chautauqua Preview: The Global Public Square

Aug 11, 2014

The Amphitheater at the Chautauqua Institution will be transformed into a Global Public Square this week.  As WBFO's Mark Scott reports in our Chautauqua Preview, this week's speakers will illuminate some serious global issues.

Chautauqua President Tom Becker freely admits he appropriated the theme from this week's first speaker, CNN's Fareed Zakaria.  He hosts a weekly Sunday morning program that he has branded as CNN's Global Public Square -- Fareed Zakaria GPS.  We'll find out Monday morning what Zakaria plans to touch on.  But on his show a few weeks ago, he shared his thoughts on the future of Iraq in the wake of a sectarian violence there.

CNN Fareed Zakaria speaks Monday morning

“As Washington supports the Baghdad government, Washington will have to be careful not to be seen as taking sides in a sectarian conflict,” Zakaria said.  “Washington should realize that national harmony in Iraq…is highly unlikely. 

“It needs a Plan B.  Call it an enclave strategy.  The world might have to accept that Iraq is turning into a country of enclaves and work to ensure these regions stay as stable, terror-free and open as is possible.”

Then on Tuesday, Chautauqua's Tom Becker says the guest speaker, National Geographics photographer Annie Griffiths, will explore an issue that hasn't received as much attention.

“Annie has done work for several years of identifying women in developing countries and their condition,” Becker said.  “She uses her work to exemplify their condition.  She also points out that if changes can be made in the context of their lives, the ripple effect of those changes is enormous.”

Wednesday's guest has been receiving much face time in recent weeks.  Michael Morell is the retired deputy director of the CIA.  He has testified before Congress about Benghazi.  He was very critical of Edward Snowden and his release of NSA secret activities.  And just a couple of weeks ago, Morell was on the CBS program, Face the Nation, talking about the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.  He addressed the questions surrounding Russian involvement.

”I don’t think we’re going to learn the answers to those questions from a forensic investigation of the crash site,” Morell said.  “We’re only going to learn those answers from intelligence.  But it does seem there is significant Russian complicity here to me.”

The afternoon Interfaith series will continue the morning theme with a program that Associate Religion Director Maureen Rovegno describes as the Global Religious Public Square.

“We want to look at religion…and some examples of how religion binds humans and encourages cooperation, acceptance and mutual learning,” Rovegno said.  “We want to examine how religion promotes a public square in which everyone can be free and respected.”

On Thursday, Michael Battle, the former US Attorney in Western New York, will speak at 2:00 at the Hall of Philosophy.  He now holds the title of Ambassador and is senior advisor of the African Bureau at the US State Department. 

Pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk performs at the Amphitheater Wednesday and Saturday

Moving on to the week's entertainment, pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk returns to Chautauqua.  He'll perform a piano recital at the Amphitheater Wednesday night.  Then, Saturday, Gavrylyuk will join the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for a concert that will include George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

This concert will air live on Classical 94.5 WNED, starting at 8:00.  Chautauqua's Vice President of Entertainment, Marty Merkley says this year marks the 90th anniversary of the first performance of "Rhapsody in Blue."  In fact, Merkley shared a story of Gershwin's connection to the Chautauqua Institution.

“In 1925, Gershwin was sent to Chautauqua because he had composer’s block,” Merkley said.  “He was working on his Concerto in F.  He was working on his second movement, and he was having a problem. 

“He came here and spent a period of time and worked on the Concerto in F in one of the practice shacks.”

The Friday night entertainment this week features an "Evening with Englebert Humperdinck" at the Amphitheater.

One more note -- Tuesday is Buffalo Day at Chautauqua.  WNED's Dave Rotterman will present a screening of the recent documentary, "Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America," at 3:30 at the Hall of Christ.