The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has cancelled all in-person performances through Nov. 29, citing the “uncertainty” of when audiences will be able to return to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and The Music Center at Strathmore as the coronavirus pandemic persists.
The BSO’s 2020-2021 season was set to begin in September, kicking off music director Marin Alsop’s last year leading the orchestra, but is instead pivoting to virtual performances and other programs.
“We are deeply disappointed that we are not able to open our exciting 2020-21 season as originally planned, but we know these actions are necessary for the safety of our musicians, staff and audience members,” BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome said in a statement. “The BSO remains committed to sustaining our community’s needs for the healing and uplifting experience of music, and we are exploring various opportunities to connect to our audiences with digital performances in the fall.”
The orchestra’s ticket office will be contacting people who purchased tickets for the canceled performances to explain their options.
The BSO had originally scheduled its Season Opening Gala Concert with violinist Hilary Hahn for Sept, 12 at 8:30 p.m., but that concert has been rescheduled for June 20, 2021 at 7 p.m. The new date will celebrate Alsop and will feature a special guest performance by operatic soprano Renée Fleming.
Staff at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall have installed robotic video cameras so that the BSO will be able to livestream concerts from the stage in the future.
In the meantime, the BSO is planning to launch a new digital concert series this fall, hosted by Alsop, associate conductor Nicholas Hersh and special guests. The series will pair performances by socially distanced groups or smaller ensembles with behind-the-scenes videos and conversations.
The BSO has already launched BSO Offstage, a collection of videos and podcasts featuring at-home performances, podcasts, tutorials, archival footage, masterclasses, interviews and discussions of classical works.
Last Sunday marked the premiere of the BSO Encore program on 91.5 FM WBJC, highlighting archival performances from Alsop’s first two years in Baltimore. The radio station will air a performance from the 2007-2008 or 2008-2009 seasons every Sunday, from 1 to 3 p.m., for nine more weeks.
In February, the BSO announced that Alsop would be stepping down from her position as music director at the end of her current contract, which expires Aug. 31, 2021.
Alsop, who has led the orchestra for 14 years and is the first woman to lead a major orchestra in the United States, will retain the roles of Music Director Laureate and the founder of OrchKids, an after-school program that teaches local children how to play classical music.
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