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The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra cancels live performances through November, plans digital concert series

The BSO hopes to begin live streaming a new digital concert series this fall.
The BSO hopes to begin live streaming a new digital concert series this fall. (MONICA LOPOSSAY/Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announced Wednesday that live performances at its two music halls will be cancelled through at least November 29 — a decision that local music lovers had long feared was coming.

However, the symphony hopes to begin live streaming a new digital concert series this fall.

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“We are deeply disappointed that we are not able to open our exciting 2020-21 season as originally planned,” Peter Kjome, the BSO’s president and CEO said in a news release, “but we know these actions are necessary for the safety of our musicians, staff and audience members.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan shuttered arts and entertainment venues statewide in mid-March because of the difficulties of ensuring social distancing at live performances during the pandemic, including Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore and the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda. Because there has been a significant spike in COVID-19 cases in Maryland in recent weeks, it seems unlikely that the governor will lift that restriction any time soon.

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Most Baltimore theater troupes, from the Hippodrome Theatre to Baltimore Center Stage to the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company have already announced that they won’t resume live performances until early in 2021. But the BSO is the state’s largest arts organization and in recent years has been in precarious financial health.

The release said that a digital series is being planned that will permit the orchestra to stream live performances of musical ensembles small enough to provide for social distancing while performing on stage. It’s unclear if there will be a charge for these digital concerts; a BSO spokeswoman said only that further information will be made available once plans are finalized.

Special events scheduled through November also have been cancelled, the release said. The season opening gala originally planned for Sept. 12 has been rescheduled for June 20, 2021. Instead of featuring violinist Hilary Hahn as the soloist, the gala’s guest artist will be the opera singer Renee Fleming.

Subscribers with tickets to the canceled concerts will be contacted by a member of the BSO’s ticket office, the release said.

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