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Columbia Orchestra forced to cancel Family Holiday Concert due to HCPSS decision to close schools to outside groups

The Columbia Orchestra announced Thursday that it was forced to cancel its popular Family Holiday Concert on Dec. 18, set to be held at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School.

Earlier this week the Howard County Public School System announced that all school facilities would be closed to outside groups through Jan. 15 due to rising COVID-19 case numbers.

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“We are devastated,” said Katherine Keefe, executive director of the orchestra. “It was a sold-out concert. We are very disappointed.”

The group had asked the school system for an exception, as it would require all audience members to show proof of vaccination or provide a negative COVID-19 test result to attend. The request was refused, Keefe said.

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“The rules apply to everyone,” Keefe said.

With 85 orchestra members, guest dancers and a large audience, it was impossible to find another hall at such short notice, she said. As it is a holiday concert, there are no plans to reschedule it.

The group was able to perform a successful in-person concert of “The Planets” on Dec. 4.

“That was great,” Keefe said. “We were happy to have a nice audience for that.”

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The orchestra hopes to be able to return in 2022 with live performances on Feb. 5 for the Pines of Rome concert and in March for the Symphonic Pops concert.

Refunds for the holiday concert will be processed on Dec. 20. The group is asking for patrons to consider donating some or all of their ticket purchase to the orchestra. Those interested in donating should email ticketinfo@columbiaorchestra.org or call 410-456-8777 by 8 p.m., Dec. 19.

“We would appreciate that,” Keefe said. “This was out of our control.”

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