From the President

Column by Thomas M. Becker

We spend time every season talking about the creation of art. Writers discuss their craft and the role of the muse; the compelling line created by character in context. Actors must find the truthful path through stories. Dance choreographers talk about storytelling within movement and musical flow. Our visual artists negotiate the expressive qualities of realism and abstraction. Our instrumental musicians, composers and conductors talk about the collaborative interpretation of the complex delivery of full and half steps and the alteration of rhythmic harmonies and irregularities. And the magic of vocal instrumentation from choral ensembles to the witness of the human voice transformed to instrument.

We talk about all of these creative characteristics because we invest in the creative process. And we invest in the creative process because we are committed to the idea that this process lays bare the human condition and serves as a source of truth, distinctive among the multiple pathways to the exploration of the best of human values and the enrichment of life.

Much of the approach to arts programming, driven as it is by the need to “sell,” copies work that has proven its marketability. Thus an endless parade of Batmen and romantic comedies in which you swear the dialogue and plotting hasn’t altered a bit from one interpretation to the next. Even the venerated planks of Broadway are increasingly given over to be trod by celebrities in classic roles in order to draw the public in. Indeed, celebrity drives the marketplace, and the known is the basic condition of interest.

Saturday night in the Amphitheater we will present an original work of inter-arts collaboration, Go West! Andrew Borba has led our opera, theater, dance, voice, piano, elements of the MSFO, the CSO and our visual arts in the creation of a work that will absorb the audience in the movement west, conceptually, mythically and actually. The physical beauty in tension with the physical hardship; the realization of a freedom of movement and access in tension with the conflict with Native Americans and the environment; buoyant dance halls and severe warnings of values nailed to a cross of gold: all of these tensions are at play in this ambitious expedition covering 200 years of history.

I hope as you experience this brave and exuberant new work you will think about the artistic community that has come together in such a short time to produce this work. We will experience the result of months of planning and weeks of inter-arts communication and collaboration.

We produce this work to draw your attention to the creative process that is at work throughout the Chautauqua season. The gift to the artists for this outsized effort is the inspiration passed from the cellist to the sculptor, the sculptor to the dancer, the vocalist to the actor; all of these exchanges are about interpretation, risk taking and voice in making art.

Come to the Amphitheater Saturday night and join in as a participant in this exchange. Take the journey these amazing artists are providing. Go West!