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Chautauqua Music Festival

Marsha and I just returned from my debut at the Chautauqua Music Festival. By the way, it’s pronounced with an “sh” sound–like Shautauqua! This is a place one has to experience.  On 500 acres of Lake Chautauqua waterfront, it is a community of 1200 residences with a mix of styles going back to the Victorian period, the post Civil War Atheneum Hotel (which has a motto prominently displayed in the grand lobby “every man has the right to be all he can be and to know what he can know), a 5000 seat covered amphiththeater with wonderful acoustics, a symphony orchestra, ballet company, opera company, theater company, a full array of lectures, art classes, sailing, a daily paper with kids hawking it on the town common, etc., etc. The season is 9 weeks in the summer and the place is shut down in the winter. The orchestra is terrific and they have to be since they play two programs a week, each with either one or two rehearsals. Mine had one in the afternoon of the performance and the players were so competent and generous in spirit that we put on a great show. Personally, I loved the pressure of producing a high standard with a minimum of rehearsing. The name of the game for all concerned is “be good NOW!” In a way, it felt similar to recording with a group that is sight reading at the session. I’ve done a fair bit of that type and I always enjoyed the artistic pressure and found that it brought out the best in everyone. Anyway, Bravo to Marty Merkey, its’s V.P. and Director of Programming, the musicians and all those responsible for keeping the vision of the founding fathers alive since the 1870s!

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Paul Polivnick
Contact Paul at 727-298-8182

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