Chautauqua Institution: Week One

Chautauqua Institution is proud to announce the program lineup for Week One of its 2018 season. The week, which began Saturday and concludes June 29, features presentations by renowned guests such as celebrated author John Irving, National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas, and performances from Grammy Award-winning musician Alison Krauss, the musical stylings of Black Violin and the a cappella group Voctave.

In 2018, the Chautauqua season began Saturday and ends Sunday, Aug. 26. Over the course of the summer, the Institution features morning and afternoon lectures focusing on nine weekly themes. Weekly themes this year include “The Life of the Written Word,” “American Identity” and “Russia and the West.” In addition to the morning and afternoon lecture series is an abundance of art and entertainment to support and complement the week’s theme.

The morning lecture series will take place at 10:45 a.m. Monday through Friday in the Amphitheater. The 2018 Week One theme, “The Life of the Written Word,” builds upon Chautauqua’s literary traditions, as lecturers celebrate the power of language and encourage us all to be responsible stewards of that power.

The Interfaith Lecture Series, at 2 p.m. weekdays in the Hall of Philosophy, opens with the theme “Producing a Living Faith Today?” From Monday to Thursday this week, John Shelby Spong, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, will focus on profound questions of Christianity: Who is God in a world that has been shaped by science? If God is all-powerful, why is there suffering? What does resurrection mean? What does it mean to be raised into God?

In 2018, Chautauqua also launches Interfaith Fridays, a series of nine 2 p.m. conversations with nine leaders of nine different faith traditions attempting to answer the question “Why should the world be moving in an interfaith direction?”

The Rev. Karoline M. Lewis, Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, will serve as ecumenical guest chaplain for the week. Lewis is the author of SHE: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Women in Ministry. She is also contributing writer for and author of the site’s “Dear Working Preacher” column, as well as co-host of the site’s weekly podcast, “Sermon Brainwave.”


Morning: John Irving is a respected and popular novelist and screenwriter whose novels have become American classics. Irving’s first international bestseller, The World According to Garp, won a National Book Award in 1980, and was made into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Robin Williams. Since Garp’s release, Irving’s subsequent novels, including A Son of the Circus, A Prayer for Owen Meany, A Widow for One Year, The Fourth Hand and Until I Find You, have been translated into over 30 languages and sold tens of millions of copies. He will be featured in conversation with journalist Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review. She edited the 2014 collection By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life. Her work has appeared in Time, Worth, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Economist, Vogue and numerous other publications.

Afternoon: John Shelby Spong is the retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark whose books have sold more than one million copies. They include Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism, A New Christianity for a New World and Why Christianity Must Change or Die. He is a visiting lecturer at Harvard and universities and churches across the world, and has appeared on “60 Minutes,” “Good Morning America” and “Fox News Live.” Spong will present each of the Interfaith Lectures from Monday to Thursday during Week One.


Morning: Tyehimba Jess is the author of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of poetry Olio, the first Week One selection of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. Olio also won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Jess is currently a professor of English at the College of Staten Island.

Afternoon: John Shelby Spong continues his series.


Morning: Lisa Lucas is the executive director of the National Book Foundation, the organization responsible for the annual National Book Awards. Lucas is the third director in the history of the NBF as well as the first woman and first African-American at its helm. Previously, she served as the publisher of Guernica, a nonprofit online magazine focusing on writing that explores the intersection of art and politics with an international and diverse focus.

Afternoon: John Shelby Spong continues his series.


Morning: Kory Stamper is a longtime lexicographer, who has worked at Merriam-Webster, and the author of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries. Notably, Stamper drew attention as the associate editor responsible for explaining the addition of the term “F-bomb” into the dictionary.

Afternoon: John Shelby Spong continues his series.


Morning: Michael Kahn is the founder of what was then called the Chautauqua Conservatory Theater Company. Kahn currently serves as artistic director of the Shakespeare Theater Company. Lucas Hnath is a playwright whose work has been produced both nationally and internationally. Hnath’s work includes A Doll’s House, Part 2; Hillary and Clinton; Red Speedo; The Christians; Isaac’s Eye; and Death Tax.

Afternoon: Chautauqua debuts the Interfaith Friday series featuring Khalid and Sabeeha Rehman, known in the Chautauqua community for their enormously popular weeklong course, “Islam 101.” Khalid Rehman is a retired physician of hematology and oncology and founder of the Pakistani Cultural Association of Staten Island. He has served as a board member on several medical and religious organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Project Hospitality and the Muslim Majlis of Staten Island. Sabeeha Rehman is a former hospital executive and co-founder of the National Autism Association New York Metro Chapter. The Rehmens have spent the last several decades engaging in interfaith dialogue with faith communities.


3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28, Hall of Philosophy:Andrew Kriv’k will deliver the first CLSC Author Presentation on his The Signal Flame, a heartbreaking, captivating story about a family awaiting the return of their youngest son from the Vietnam War. Kriv’k’s previous book The Sojourn was the recipient of the first-ever Chautauqua Prize.


Aside from the daily lectures, Week One features a variety of evening entertainment programs in the Amphitheater each night.

The U.S. Army Field Band, a Chautauqua favorite, opens the season of free Sunday programming at 2:30 p.m. The band that has participated in numerous presidential inaugural parades and supported many diplomatic missions overseas. Joining these instrumental forces will be the Soldiers’ Chorus, known for performing the music of Broadway, opera, barbershop quartet, and Americana. Admission to Chautauqua is always free on Sundays.

Celebrated pianist and longtime Chautauqua collaborator Alexander Gavrylyuk performs a solo recital at 8:15 p.m. Monday.

Black Violin will perform in Chautauqua as part of its Classical Boom Tour at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. The classically trained duo of Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester and Wilner “Wil” Baptiste will bring a mash-up of classical, hip-hop, rock and rhythm and blues to the Amphitheater.

At 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, the Charlotte Ballet presents an evening of innovative and exciting dance. Drawing on her vast international network of choreographers and collaborators, Artistic Director Hope Muir has assembled an eclectic “International Series” for the first dance program of 2018.

The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra opens its 2018 season at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, with Dvor’k’s Ninth Symphony and Brahms’ Violin Concerto. Music Director Rossen Milanov serves as the conductor, and Ilya Kaler serves as the solo violinist.

Making its Chautauqua debut, Voctave performs at 8:15 p.m. Friday. This 11-member a cappella group from Central Florida is known for its gorgeous performances of Disney and Broadway hits.


Garth Newel Piano Quartet performs at 4 p.m. Monday in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall as part of Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series.

Chautauqua Theater Company presents the culmination of the Institution’s 2017-18 Young Playwrights Project in Chautauqua County schools with performances of the winning student plays at 5 and 7 p.m. Tuesday in Smith Wilkes Hall, as part of the Family Entertainment Series. Tickets are free.

At 8 p.m. Friday, CTC also opens its run of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon, adapted from Dion Boucicault’s 1859 hit melodrama about the fate of “octoroon” woman in the Antebellum South. This hilarious and incisive new play — winner of The Obie Award for Best American New Play — jabs at the history of slavery and identity in America.

Gate Pass Information

Day tickets are available for purchase at the Main Gate Welcome Center Ticket Office on the day of your visit. Morning tickets grant visitors access to the grounds from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $24. Afternoon tickets grant access from noon to 8 p.m. for $17. Combined morning/afternoon passes allow access from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and cost $41. Evening passes grant access from 4 p.m. to midnight with the cost varying based on the evening entertainment. For tickets and information, visit or call 716-357-6250.

About Chautauqua Institution

The pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 people visit Chautauqua and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages – all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue.