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Boston Symphony Orchestra Cancels Fall Period of 2020-21 Season; BSO to Create and Distribute New Online Content

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Boston Symphony Orchestra Cancels Fall Period of 2020-21 Season; BSO to Create and Distribute New Online Content

For the first time in its 139-year history, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will suspend its fall season of performances at Symphony Hall, September 16-November 28. The decision to cancel the fall period of the 2020-21 BSO season-due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19-was made in consultation with a team of medical experts assembled by the BSO Board of Trustees, and in response to issuances by the Centers for Disease Control and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which prohibit gatherings of 25 or more people in a particular location where they would be in close physical proximity within a confined indoor space.

By the end of the 2020 calendar year, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will announce whether it is able to go forward with any live performances with audience in the winter and spring months of its 2020-21 Symphony Hall season, January 7-May 1.

Given the cancellation of in-person Boston Symphony Orchestra live performances with audiences, September 16-November 28, and the continuing uncertainty around the resumption of in-person performances in the winter and spring, the BSO will be suspending all patron subscriptions for the 2020-21 season in September, following the announcement of the orchestra's fall streaming season offering. At that time, subscribers will be contacted about the options available and the process for canceling their subscriptions, including donations, credits, and refunds. Should in-person performances return in the spring, subscribers will be given first priority for purchasing tickets for those performances, as well as for those to take place in the 2021-22 BSO season. Further details about subscription options are described below.

During the hiatus from performances this fall, the BSO will create and distribute online content inspired by the success of its BSO at Home series (spring 2020) and Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival (summer 2020) distributed through www.bso.org and www.tanglewood.org. Details of the new fall/ early winter content will be announced in September.

More Details About 2020-21 BSO Season Subscriber Donations/Credits/Refunds Available in September
The BSO has decided to suspend all patron subscriptions for the 2020-21 season, given the uncertainty around the resumption of in-person performances in the fall and early winter months; a decision about whether or not the orchestra's 2020-21 winter and spring season will move forward with any performances for live audiences will be announced by the end of the 2020 calendar year.

In September, all subscribers to the 2020-21 BSO season will be contacted about the options for processing the suspension of their subscription (single tickets were to go on sale in August). Due to the financial impact of concert cancellations, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will be asking patrons, whenever possible, to consider donating their tickets back to the organization to receive a tax receipt for the total ticket value contributed. Should ticket-holders decide not to donate their tickets, the Boston Symphony will also offer a credit towards the orchestra's digital offerings (including new fall content to be announced in September) or towards future BSO, Pops, or Tanglewood performances. Refunds for the value of the tickets purchased will also be honored. Should in-person performances return in the spring, subscribers will be given first priority for purchasing tickets for those performances; subscriber seats-often handed down from generation to generation-will be held for the 2021-22 BSO season.

BSO ticket buyers and subscribers who have questions or need further information can contact the BSO's Customer Service Department at customerservice@bso.org or by calling 617-266-1200. Symphony Charge, the BSO's ticketing sales office, will remain open during this period of concert cancellations and can be reached at 617-266-1200. The Symphony Hall and Tanglewood box offices are currently closed for in-person business.


The BSO will continue to monitor recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as confer with its own team of medical experts about future steps regarding testing and vaccine development. As part of an ongoing process begun in March, the BSO and its team of experts have been evaluating and developing plans to update heating and cooling ventilation and filtration systems, controls, and equipment; exploring supplemental air cleaning technologies; monitoring devices and touchless infrastructure; developing robust cleaning and disinfecting procedures; and modeling building circulation and workplace modifications for physical distancing, among other healthy building strategies-all measures and administrative controls to ensure a safe and healthy patron experience in full compliance with all official recommendations when the time comes to welcome audiences back to live performances. When Symphony Hall is once again permitted to open for live performances with audiences, the BSO will communicate clearly and responsibly with its many constituents regarding all health and safety precautions in place to create an environment where people feel safe to return to the concert experience.

There has never been a cancellation of Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts of this magnitude since the orchestra's founding in 1881. In the fall of 1918, the beginning of the BSO's 1918-19 season was delayed by two weeks due to the Spanish Flu epidemic. During World War II, the Tanglewood season was shortened (1942, 1944, 1945) and/or cancelled (1943). In 1942, the Tanglewood Music Center (BSO's acclaimed summer music academy founded in 1940) presented performances funded by Serge Koussevitzky (BSO Music Director 1925-49) through the Koussevitzky Music Foundation. In 1944 and 1945, although there was no official Tanglewood Festival, a short series of Bach-Mozart concerts was given by members of the BSO in the Theatre Concert Hall. There was no activity at Tanglewood during the summer of 1943.

There has never been a cancellation of Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts of this magnitude since the orchestra's founding in 1881. In the fall of 1918, the beginning of the BSO's 1918-19 season was delayed by two weeks due to the Spanish Flu epidemic. During World War II, the Tanglewood season was shortened (1942, 1944, 1945) and/or cancelled (1943). In 1942, the Tanglewood Music Center (BSO's acclaimed summer music academy founded in 1940) presented performances funded by Serge Koussevitzky (BSO Music Director 1925-49) through the Koussevitzky Music Foundation. In 1944 and 1945, although there was no official Tanglewood Festival, a short series of Bach-Mozart concerts was given by members of the BSO in the Theatre Concert Hall. There was no activity at Tanglewood during the summer of 1943.

This cancellation announcement about fall performances of the 2020-21 BSO season follows previous COVID-19-related concert cancellation announcements about the 2020 Tanglewood season, Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular live performance, 2020 Boston Pops season, and the last seven weeks of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's 2019-20 season. These concert cancellations-not including the fall cancellations-are expected to incur a $30 million revenue loss for the organization for its fiscal year ending in August 2020.

In response to these cancellations, the BSO has committed to creating a series of video and audio online programs-Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival, BSO at Home, Boston Pops at Home, and BSO Homeschool-to help its patrons though this period of difficulty and live performance hiatus. Since launching BSO at Home on March 23, the BSO reports a doubling of website traffic and more than 13 million interactions on its website and social media channels. This content can be found at www.tanglewood.org and www.bso.org. In September, the BSO will announce a new series of digital offerings to be featured throughout the fall.


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