Chautauqua Institution staff used the 2015 season’s final Trustees Porch Discussion Wednesday morning to dive into next season’s lecture and arts programming.
Sherra Babcock, vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, and Deborah Sunya Moore, associate director of programming, spoke to those gathered on the Hultquist Center porch about the 2016 season, which, as a whole, will explore the question “What Does It Mean To Be Human?” Attendees received a brochure that elaborated upon the season and its weekly themes.
Babcock spoke of the process behind assembling the roster of morning lecture guests.
“Some of our speakers are lined up, but we have a lot of opportunities,” Babcock said.
She urged the community to make suggestions for potential speakers.
“We have had 110 to 115 nominations for the 45 spots in the morning lecture platform,” Babcock said. “We want to tell stories and are very open to your suggestions.”
Moore, who in October will succeed Marty Merkley as vice president for the performing and visual arts, discussed her areas of responsibility. Speakers are brought with respect to the weekly themes, she said, and the arts, though programmed differently, can sometimes complement the lecture platforms.
“If there is a great connection to the theme, we try and make it,” Moore said, citing the example of Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and Chautauqua Theater Company’s collaboration on Ellis Island during Week Three, themed “Immigration.”
The main aim of Chautauqua’s artistic programs is to “serve each discipline with the highest artistic excellence,” Moore said. “We collaborate with the theme when we can.”
Moore noted the exciting opportunities afforded by new leadership for the CSO and the Chautauqua Opera Company.
“The Sunday matinee, will continue next year,” Moore said, speaking of the Aug. 9 CSO performance that received positive feedback from the community. “Into the Music,” another new CSO series in which Milanov discusses the selected pieces, will also see a second year.
The Institution is also trying something new — or rather, something old, Moore said.
“We are trying to bring back something we haven’t done in a while: a CSO and [Music School Festival Orchestra] collaboration,” Moore said. “You will see close to 150 musicians on stage, playing an enormous piece.”
Turning to opera, Moore said the 2016 repertoire has been selected and will be announced after Labor Day. The schedule will continue to include a fully staged opera in the Amphitheater.
“The vision that we have moving forward is that those operas, in the Amp, will be lyrical, beautiful, rich and, hopefully, the perfect introduction to opera,” she said.
Moore teased that one of the Friday night shows for 2016 had been booked, but would be announced at a later date. Another one or two will be announced in November. She also confirmed the return of the political-satirist troupe the Capitol Steps, which put on a well-attended Wednesday show during Week Seven 2014.
Like Babcock, Moore stressed the importance of community feedback in the programming process. In the coming seasons, suggestions may be submitted via a form on the Institution’s website.
Babcock also spoke to selection of week themes, which are in progress two years in advance.
“We consider and research about 170 ideas for the nine weeks, and we and start working on them in the fall,” Babcock said. She and her colleagues will begin thinking about 2017 over the next few months.
With the election looming next year, Babcock confirmed two speakers who will address the 2016 campaigns.
Trevor Potter, former commissioner and chairman of the Federal Election Commission, and Zephyr Teachout, an associate professor of law at Fordham University, will speak during Week Two, “Money and Power.”
Week One, a return of the popular “Roger Rosenblatt & Friends” series, is completely booked. Speakers include Rosenblatt, author Ann Patchett, journalist and novelist Pete Hamill, songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, comedian Joy Behar, and David Lynn, Pamela Paul and Loren Stein, who are editors of The Kenyon Review, The New York Times Book Review and The Paris Review.
Additional speakers have been confirmed: journalist David Simon for Week Six, “The Future of Cities”; author Phil Klay, whose Redeployment won the 2015 Chautauqua Prize, for Week Eight, “War and Its Warriors”; and musician Wynton Marsalis and historian Geoffrey Ward for Week Nine, “America’s Music with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center.”
Updates on the 2016 season can be found at ciweb.org/2016-season.