DECATUR — Michael Luxner was determined Monday for what has become a holiday tradition to go on no matter what the weather was like.
As it turned out, the director of the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra didn't get the forecast correct as the the Labor Day Pops Concert was moved from the lakeside amphitheater to nearby pavilion in Nelson Park. Expected rain held off during the concert as the sun was shining and much of the sky was clear of clouds, although Luxner said the wind might have made the sound challenging at the normal location.
The change in scenery didn't keep the crowd away as the pavilion was full and surrounding hillside lined with spectators sitting in lawn chairs. Some turned their chairs to still face the lake while listening to the sounds of the orchestra.
“We've had a pretty good run of luck,” Luxner said. “We did not know what the weather was going to be. We made the decision because it looked bad and we had to go with the info we had.”
Luxner said the concert has only had to be moved twice in its 18-year history.
One of the few things he said missing from previous concerts were the boats that would park for their occupants to listen to the music from the lake.
Some audience members told Luxner afterward they enjoyed the acoustics inside the pavilion. He credited all the professional musicians for making the show possible.
Many of them, including Solomon Baer and Laurie Glencross, didn't seem to mind the change.
“We can hear each other,” said Baer, the principal clarinet player. “It really worked out. It's nice to have the audience. It's always great to play here.”
Baer said he could turn and enjoy the view of the lake down the hill from the concert.
“Usually our back is to the lake,” said Glencross, the principal flutist.
The group's conductor isn't ready to give up on the traditional venue just yet.
“It would be hard to give up the beautiful backdrop,” Luxner said. “If we ever had to do it again here, it would not be a total loss.”
Luxner said he thought, if nothing else, the applause sounded better from where he was standing for the concert. The musical selections included ones Luxner intended to please the wide audience and make the musicians comfortable with time for only one rehearsal to prepare.
One of the pieces the orchestra played was a Beatles Medley, which Luxner said was a tribute 50 years after the British invasion. The audience continued its enthusastic applause all the way until the last song, “You're a Grand Old Flag,” was played.
That's when it rose to its feet, bringing an end to another year of the traditional gathering and starts the group's performing season. The first performance by the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra at Kirkland Fine Arts Center is a Sept. 27 concert featuring violin player Tai Murray.