This newly painted sign in the roadway epitomizes Chautauqua: it can change your mind or, at least, challenge your thinking. We arrived at Chautauqua Institution Friday late afternoon, moved into our new digs, and went grocery shopping before the first choir rehearsal. Singing with the Chautauqua choir stretches one’s capacity as a learning experience as well as permeates the soul with the joy of singing wondrous music in a magical setting with the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world played by the best organist and choir director, Jared Jacobsen.
The first official act of each year is the Morning Worship Service in the Amphitheater with the President of the Institution, Thomas Becker, presiding, welcoming, and bringing in the new Chautauqua season with three taps of the gavel. His preamble included Ecclesiastes 1:9 —
“What has been is what will be,
And what has been done is what will be done,
There is nothing new under the sun.”
He continued with, “Ours is a community of faith. We find comfort in the coexistence of mystery, science, invention and imagination… All of us who come through the gates of this great Institution; the offer to embrace the context and atmosphere of comity – that’s C-O-M-I-T-Y, meaning courtesy and considerate behavior towards others… And I think the promise we make is that we will take time while here to behold the world in which we live… I extend this invitation to behold and beholden.”
Sunday afternoon, the US Army Field Band performed rousing American and patriotic music in the Amphitheater. The young Lieutenant conductor expressed her pleasure with Chautauqua and told of her grandparents spending summers here. Then she said, “This is why I raised my right hand. This is worth fighting for!”
Chautauqua is a world where children are safe,
And the world is as it should be.