Further, traveling “Chautauquas” brought culture, entertainment, reading groups, theater, opera, lectures/speeches, etc. to the newly-settled towns and cities in the Midwestern, southern, and western parts of the United States during a time before broadcast media was invented. For these communities, a visit from a “Chautauqua” was like a traveling carnival or circus for thinking people. These tent festivals would be conducted over the course of several days outside of towns and then pick up and move to the next venue. Eventually the advent of radio and television,as well as permanent libraries, arts and cultural venues in cities and towns obviated the need for the traveling shows.
Excerpted from “The Magic of Chautauqua” by Steve Odland
Have you heard about a magical place called Chautauqua? It is one of America’s best-kept secrets. The Chautauqua Institution, or just Chautauqua, is a place in southwestern New York State along the shore of beautiful Chautauqua Lake. It is a place with a smorgasbord of activities over a nine-week season each summer. It is at once a community, a learning center, a retreat, a vacation destination, and an American Utopia. All of that comes together to create the magic of Chautauqua.
The Institution, originally called the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, was founded in 1874 as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning. It was successful and broadened almost immediately beyond courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art and physical education.The Institution spawned a whole movement called the Chautauqua Movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Independent “Chautauquas” fashioned after the original sprung up around the country. At the peak of the Movement in the 1920s, several hundred of these communities existed. ———————————————–
Excerpted from “The Magic of Chautauqua” by Steve Odland, an integral member of the Chautauqua community. ____________________________________________________
I was richly blessed by being a worship participant at the Chautauqua Institute’s morning worship services. A participant in six prayerfully designed, carefully crafted, lovingly presented worship services. It was a balm, a joy, and an inspiration, leaving me with the knowledge that God is with me and among us every day. Now that we are home, I realize that the blessing I received from the musicians of Chautauqua must be shared with my congregation and with my students. I was blessed to be a blessing. I pray each of you seek out ways to be blessed so your music and work will be a blessing to your congregations, your friends and your family.
If you’d like to learn more about Chautauqua, and I encourage you to do so, visit chq.org.
As a church musician I do not often have the opportunity to worship without being in a leadership role. During our week at the Chautauqua Institution last month I was so blessed to sit in the “pew”, listen to the organ prelude and the choir’s call to worship and anthem, and sing the hymns with a congregation numbering in the thousands. What a blessing it was to worship under the leadership of the musicians of Chautauqua’s daily ecumenical services.
The Chautauqua Choir sang several anthems at each of the six worship services. We learned that it is a 20 hour/week commitment to serve in the choir — a responsibility to enhance each worship service with their music that was not taken lightly by any choir member we met. Their music — a result of the dedication of many people — was so uplifting and such a blessing. Thank you Chautauqua choir!