By Jeff Sovelove
What do you do when you have scheduled an outdoor concert and festival but the weather isn’t cooperating?
Just move them indoors.
Patrons traded a threat of violent storms at Madison’s hot-and-steamy Giralda Farms for the safety and air-conditioned comfort of Mennen Arena in Morris Township.
(No hockey games broke out during the festival.)
The change in venue didn’t seem to dim the enthusiasm of attendees, who simply brought their picnics indoors.
Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove and Kevin Coughlin
Vendors sold crafts and handmade jewelry, and there were activities for the young and the young at heart. Jessica and Heather from Whirled Revolutions in Sussex County were on hand to teach the intricacies of hula hooping, and the Lakeland Youth Symphony shared its talent.
As always, the main attraction was the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, conducted this year by José Luis Dominguez.
The NJSO rounded out the afternoon with such classics as Rossini’s William Tell Overture, Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro, and selections from Star Wars, much to everyone’s delight.
Video playlist, by Jeff Sovelove: 1. Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ overture; 2. Puccini “Intermezzo’ from ‘Manon Lescaut’ ; 3. Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture ; 4. Massanet ‘Meditation’ from ‘Thais’ ; 5. Carousel Waltze; 6. Carol Mesieles and Annie duet with Lakeland Youth Symphony.
Tom Werder, executive director of Morris Arts, estimated the crowd size at 1,000. That’s about half the usual outdoor attendance for the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser, which marked its 35th year.
Still, the spirit was good and nobody got drenched.
“This is really about gathering with friends and family and hearing a wonderful symphony, whether we do it here or outside. We skirted the storms and feel good about the result,” said Werder, who decided to switch locations about three hours before the festival’s 4 pm start.
Fortunately, forecasts of violent thunderstorms did not materialize. Raindrops started falling as the concert let out.
Dr. Lynn Siebert of Morris Arts was happy with the turnout.
“I’m sure all of the artists are enjoying the air conditioning, as opposed to the heat and humidity,” Siebert said. “Events like this are a great way to introduce young people to classical music in a more casual way than a formal concert hall.”
This festival was the swan song for Tom McMillian, stepping down after five years as president of the Morris Arts board. Tara Skirzenski will succeed him.
McMillian boosted the organization’s visibility, Werder said.
Now, “people know about our contributions. He has given us the flexibility to grow and try new things. It’s a testament to his leadership,” the director said.
McMillian, a marketing consultant, said he looks forward to spending more time with his beloved ukulele.
Kevin Coughlin contributed to this report.