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Cleveland Orchestra Cancels Rest Of Spring Season Due To Pandemic Concerns

Franz Welser Most conducts the Cleveland Orchestra [ideastream]

The Cleveland Orchestra is canceling the remainder of its Spring season. It’s the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

After previously canceling a planned international tour for March and April, orchestra CEO Andre Gremillet said continuing concerns about the spread of COVID-19 led to the decision to shut down the rest of the season.

“We see no realistic scenarios where we could offer a safe environment to our people – musicians and patrons for concerts – anytime between now and the end of May at Severance Hall,” Gremillet said.

Such decisions have huge financial implications running into the “millions of dollars,” he said. That includes determining whether or not musicians will be paid. 

“First and foremost for us is to make sure that the institution survives this crisis, and that we also take care of our people,” he said. “These are musicians and staff who have families, who are concerned about their health, like all of us. And we need to balance that.”

The organization is also bracing for lost ticket sales and the impact on fundraising before the end of the fiscal year in June. 

Gremillet said the summer season at Blossom is still on, and he hopes it will stay that way.

“And we’re certainly hoping with all our hearts,” he said. “I think it’s highly possible, but of course I can’t speak with certainty about this. No one can. What’s so unusual with this crisis, and what’s so unprecedented, is the high degree of uncertainty about anything.”

For now, Gremillet said he is is exploring ways to make orchestra music available to the public in a time when live concerts are curtailed, including the potential for additional broadcasts on ideastream’s WCLV.

Over the past week, the orchestra has also  posted segments from its “Mindful Music Moments” series on social media. The program was designed to provide a few moments of musical calm for area classroomsat the start of the day

 “The whole concept of listening to music, calming ourselves down and reflecting, I think, is more important than ever, and we want to offer that to everybody,” he said.

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.