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No matter where it's held, Renfrew Institute's 21st annual Jazz Festival is 'always high-quality jazz'

Poor weather prompted indoor performances in 2011 and again on Sunday

August 26, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Singer Ren Marie performs Sunday at the annual Renfrew Jazz Festival. Thunderstorms pushed the show inside Waynesboro (Pa.) Area Middle School.
Photo by Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The musicians performing in Renfrew Institute’s 21st annual Jazz Festival might have been hitting the right notes, but the weather wasn’t.

Storm clouds rolled in before the free event’s 2 p.m. start time Sunday, so organizers moved everything from Renfrew Park to Waynesboro Area Middle School. The school’s auditorium quickly filled with people.

“It’s always a little less (turnout) than when we have it in the park,” said Melodie Anderson-Smith, executive director of Renfrew Institute.

Although the festival has been moved indoors just a few times in its history, poor weather prompted indoor performances in 2011 and again on Sunday, Smith said.

Attendee Anne Finucane of Chambersburg, Pa., said the park atmosphere is best, but the middle school auditorium provides better acoustics. Moving the festival indoors also allows for use of a real piano.


“It’s always high-quality jazz,” Finucane said.

Jazz singer René Marie returned to the festival for the first time since 1999. Anderson-Smith said Andrew Sussman, from Cumberland Valley School of Music, uses professional connections to find performers like René Marie.

“She is acclaimed, and we’re just delighted she could put this into her schedule,” Anderson-Smith said, saying René Marie was traveling between New York and Virginia over the weekend.

René Marie, a Virginia native, told the audience she recalls the last performance in Waynesboro.

“That time we didn’t get rained out,” she said. “It was a lovely concert.”

Hagerstown resident Ron Sulchek said he, too, remembers that performance. It was the only other time he attended the jazz festival.

“She just has so much energy about her,” he said of René Marie.

John Hosie of Waynesboro said he is a longtime jazz fan who has attended the Renfrew Institute event for 15 to 20 years. He described the festival as fantastic.

“The caliber of the musicians and vocalists is great,” Hosie said.

René Marie was scheduled to appear with Kevin Bales, Elias Bailey and Quentin Baxter.

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