This last Saturday was Bryant Day, a tradition that marks the official start of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle reading season. The ceremony featured Sherra Babcock, vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, announcing the first three selections of the year: Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende, What I Did by Christopher Wakling, and The Names of Things by John Colman Wood. The three novels fall within the season’s vertical theme, “Exploration and Discovery,” which honors Week Five’s morning lecture theme and the second interarts collaborative project on the American West.
“The bell-ringing will go on for a while,” said Sherra Babcock, Chautauqua Institution vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education. “And it will be loud.”
As Terry Bacon sat outside the School of Music’s studios studios Tuesday morning, a young musician approached him and shared his experience at the Chautauqua Music Camps. The student said that it was, for him, the first place he had ever felt welcome. It was the only place, other than his own band room, where he felt no one would make fun of him. It was where he belonged.
The English have the bells of Westminster Abbey declaring changes of royalty. The French have the bells of Notre Dame Cathedral calling the faithful to their knees. Chautauquans have the bells of Miller Bell Tower to serenade them throughout the season.
But who plays the tunes each day?
After 10 years of dedication and work with Chautauqua Theater Company and Chautauqua Opera Company, house managers Ken and Carolyn Benton have decided to retire.
Carolyn, now a retired music teacher, began coming to Chautauqua each summer as a child and is in her 10th season as the chimemaster at the Miller Bell Tower.
“I fell in love with Chautauqua’s Miller Bell Tower at the age of 5,” Carolyn Benton said.
Now in her 10th year as the bell tower’s chimemaster, Benton gushes enthusiastically about many things, but especially about Chautauqua’s most prominent symbol.