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Boston Symphony Orchestra Cancels 2020 Holiday Pops Series

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On July 30, the Boston Symphony Orchestra—for the first time in its 139-year history—suspended its fall season of performances at Symphony Hall.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Cancels 2020 Holiday Pops Series

Mark Volpe, Eunice and Julian Cohen BSO President and CEO; Andris Nelsons, Ray and Maria Stata BSO Music Director; and Keith Lockhart, Julian and Eunice Cohen Boston Pops Conductor have released a joint statement about the cancellation of the 2020 Holiday Pops series:

"On behalf of the entire Boston Symphony Orchestra organization, we deeply regret having to cancel the 2020 Holiday Pops series in December and the remaining 2020-21 BSO season through the winter and spring months. Though this news likely doesn't come as a surprise-since the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact all our personal and professional lives-it is still a major loss for the organization and everyone who appreciates and cherishes the BSO and Boston Pops.

"One of the silver linings that has come out of this challenging period is the creation of a new library of audio and video material that we've created to help our music community get through this difficult time and the forced hiatus from the live concert experience.

"With millions of people from Boston and around the world interacting with this special online content, we feel great inspiration to continue to create new virtual offerings. For our November/December digital performances we are thrilled to be able to focus on larger groups of musicians from the BSO and Boston Pops, featured in recorded performances from the stage of Symphony Hall for the first time since March, and including appearances by Keith Lockhart and by Andris Nelsons, when he returns to Boston in the new year.

"A second silver lining of this period has been the tremendous support we have received from the BSO's devoted subscribers, donors, and sponsors, as well as the BSO's board leadership, whose generosity has helped us to continue our compelling online content and keep the staff and musicians active during these unprecedented times.

"All of us at the BSO and Boston Pops will continue to persevere and look forward to the time when we can welcome our dear music community, as well as newcomers, back to the hall to revel in the live concert experience like never before. Until then, we are committed to bringing our audiences new and exciting online performances by the BSO and Boston Pops, among many other wonderful highlights. Stay tuned for more details on October 28!"


The Boston Symphony will not be proceeding with its 2020 Holiday Pops season (December 2020) or the winter/spring portion of the BSO 2020-21 season (January-April), as originally planned, due to official COVID-19-related government protocols in place for performing arts organizations and restrictions around the number of people who can gather in indoor spaces. During this ongoing hiatus from the live concert experience, the BSO will continue creating and disseminating newly recorded online content to be made available starting on November 19 and continuing through April 2021. Inspired by the popular and critical acclaim in response to its digital offerings over the last six months, the BSO's next installment of newly recorded online programming will focus on November and December offerings, details of which will be announced on October 28 (see highlights below).

In addition to details on programming, the October 28 announcement will outline the safety and precautionary measures in place for the musicians and staff working in Symphony Hall during the weekly recording sessions for the new online content. The announcement will also provide details about how to access the newly recorded November/December online content.


On October 28, at 10:30 a.m., the Boston Symphony Orchestra-for safety and precautionary reasons, featuring a smaller ensemble and not the usual full complement of 100 musicians-will gather on the Symphony Hall stage to begin to record new concert material that will be made available online on a near-weekly basis through www.bso.org., starting November 19 and running through April 2021. This will be the first time that the musicians of the BSO will be performing together again as an ensemble on the Symphony Hall stage since the pandemic necessitated a hiatus from live performances with audiences.

These digital presentations by the Boston Symphony Orchestra will include special behind-the-scenes material relating to the musical content of each digital concert episode. In addition, a major highlight of the announcement will be news about a unique collaboration between Boston-based hip-hop artist Moe Pope and his critically-acclaimed band STL GLD, Thomas Wilkins and several musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra-the culmination of a two-year project-to launch on October 29. The October 28 announcement will also include news about a Keith Lockhart-led Holiday Pops 2020 digital concert series-with a special performance taped from another iconic Boston landmark-and an online BSO Youth and Family Concert under the direction of Thomas Wilkins. Stay tuned for more details to be announced on October 28 through a press announcement, at www.bso.org, and on the BSO's and Boston Pops' social media channels.

Keith Lockhart is the Julian and Eunice Cohen Boston Pops Conductor. Thomas Wilkins is the Germeshausen BSO Youth and Family Concerts Conductor and the BSO's Artistic Advisor for Education and Community Engagement.


The BSO is determined to return to live performances as soon as deemed advisable by the Centers for Disease Control, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the City of Boston, as well as by its own team of experts assembled for their input and expertise on best practices. Though the orchestra will regularly monitor any changes in official restrictions and protocols that might offer allowances to eventually and gradually reinstate live performances with audiences, it is expected that the timing for reopening Symphony Hall to the public will not be known for several months. The health and well-being of everyone involved will always be the first priority when considering options and defining future plans for bringing audiences back to the hall. All updates on this subject will be announced through press releases and postings on www.bso.org.

On July 30, the Boston Symphony Orchestra-for the first time in its 139-year history-suspended its fall season of performances at Symphony Hall, September 16-November 28, 2020 (click here for the original BSO 2020-21 season announcement). During its ongoing response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the BSO has made a series of announcements that detailed the full slate of cancellations, starting on March 13.


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