Spring 2014 WQED documentary to showcase four music students’ talent

Four students from Chautauqua Institution’s Schools of Fine and Performing Arts will take their talents from the Amphitheater to the small screen next spring as features of a documentary produced by WQED-TV, Pittsburgh’s PBS affiliate.

A crew followed violinist Adé Williams, singer Jean-Michel Richer and dancing siblings Colby and Christina Clark from their auditions through the season’s rigorous practices.

After a summer spent on photography, editing and writing the documentary, Emmy Award-winning producer Pierina Morelli and her team must now whittle more than 120 hours of footage into just 60 minutes.

“I was really struck by not only the seriousness of these students, but all the students that go [to Chautauqua],” Morelli said.

PBS host Michael Bartley narrates the film, which will air in April 2014 in the Pittsburgh region and possibly beyond.

The production team visited Chautauqua three times. First, they conducted interviews with teachers on the grounds, including Oliver Dow, managing director of the School of Music. On later visits they filmed classes and performances and interviewed the students. Interviews with Tom Becker, Marty Merkley and others helped flesh out Chautauqua’s role as a proponent of lifelong learning.

George Murphy, Chautauqua vice president and chief marketing officer, contributed to the concept of the documentary. The Institution was featured in the  WNED-TV documentary “Chautauqua: An American Narrative” in 2011, and Murphy is always trying to find ways to promote Chautauqua on-air.

The talented students at the Institution seemed like the perfect focus for a film.

“We have some really special kids,” Murphy said. “So why not showcase them?