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Arts & Culture

Chautauqua Preview: The Next Greatest Generation

Week two of the Chautauqua Institution season pays tribute to the next, great generation.  Plus, old friend Mark Russell returns and the season's first opera is staged.  WBFO's Mark Scott has more in our Chautauqua preview.

Tom Brokaw has written about the "greatest generation" -- the men and women who served during World War II.  This week, Chautauqua President Tom Becker says they're looking to the future by exploring the next, great generation.

"We're looking at 30- and 40-somethings who have grown up in the context of the emergence of digital communications," Becker said.  "How is their sense of community affected by that?"

Among the speakers are Dalia Mogahed, a young Muslim woman who works for the Gallup organization, surveying Muslims around the world about what they really think.  She'll be speaking Wednesday morning at the Amphitheater.  Then on Thursday, the fourth of July, MSNBC's Chris Hayes delivers the morning lecture.  Chautauqua's Education Vice President Sherra Babcock says Mogahed, Hayes and the other guest lecturers this week have one trait in common.

"You will find connectedness to be a theme across this week," Babcock said.  "They have...an ability to work in teams." 

The afternoon theme this week centers on the issue of religion and spirituality.  Director of Religion Joan Brown Campbell says the religious attitude of young people will be part of the focus.

Credit Photo by Mark Scott

"It's particularly the younger generation that (questions) religion," Brown-Campbell said.  "It seems to them that (religion) is prejudiced, backward-looking and restrictive."

It was a few years ago on the Amphitheater stage that political satirist Mark Russell announced his retirement.  Well, Chautauqua Vice President of Programming Marty Merkley says Russell is retiring from retirement and will return to the Amphitheater Wednesday night at 8:15.

"Hopefully, he'll find something to make fun of," Merkley said.  "I think there are one or two things on the front page of the paper to have fun with."

The following evening, it's the annual Fourth of July pops concert by the Chautauqua Symphony.  And in a Chautauqua tradition, concert-goers will be given paper bags to inflate and then pop at the appropriate point of the 1812 Overture. 

Friday night features several artists from the late 1970s and early '80s in a program titled "Sail On."

"This will be a fun walk down memory lane for people who grew up in the '70s and '80s," Merkley continued. 

Among the artists, Christopher Cross with his hit from more than 30 years ago, "Sailing." 

Finally, Chautauqua Opera opens its season Saturday night at the Amphitheater.  Opera Director Jay Lesenger says the first program is Benjamin Britten's "Peter Grimes."

"It's a serious opera.  It's a tragic opera.  But it's a fantastic opera," Lesenger said.

One other note of interest.  CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante speaks at the Hall of Philosophy Saturday afternoon at 3:00.

For more on the week two schedule, check out the Chautauqua Institution's website.

Mark Scott talks with Opera Director Jay Lesenger about the season's first opera, "Peter Grimes."

Mark Scott talks with Vice President of Programming Marty Merkley about week two highlights.