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Soulful Symphony cancels rest of Merriweather season due to conductor’s injuries in car accident

Maestro Darin Atwater conducts Soulful Symphony at Morgan State University's Murphy Fine Arts Center March 30, 2019.
Maestro Darin Atwater conducts Soulful Symphony at Morgan State University's Murphy Fine Arts Center March 30, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Soulful Symphony, the resident symphony at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, is canceling its final two shows for the 2019 season because the orchestra’s conductor is recovering from injuries suffered last month in a car accident.

“This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, but after consulting with my medical team, I know it is the right one,” Darin Atwater, who is also founder of the Soulful Symphony, said in a statement.

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“Next year is Soulful’s 20th anniversary, and it will be our biggest year yet," Atwater wrote. "I am already looking ahead to the possibilities for this celebratory season and can’t wait to get to work on it with you soon.”

The symphony had previously announced concert postponements after Atwater’s July accident, which left him suffering a broken rib, pinched nerve and other injuries.

The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the cultural significance of Merriweather, announced the cancellation Aug. 22. Atwater is the commission’s artistic director.

“Our main priority is that Darin fully recovers from his injuries, and you can’t rush the healing process,” said Ian Kennedy, executive director of the commission, in a statement. “We will continue to support Darin as he recovers.”

The decision cancels the September performance of “Under an Open Heaven” and the October performance of “Slang!” which had been postponed from July.

All those who purchased tickets will receive full refunds. Tickets purchased online or at the box office with a credit card will be automatically refunded. Ticket purchases with cash at the box office have to be refunded in person. The Merriweather box office is open until Oct. 21 for those refunds.

Founded in 2000 in Baltimore, Soulful Symphony began its residency at Merriweather in June, debuting with the concert “#SoulfulSetList.” The residency will continue in 2020 as the symphony celebrates in 20th anniversary.

The ensemble is made up of 85 musicians and vocalists, predominantly performers of African-American and Hispanic descent between the ages of 26 and 55.

The 20th season “will showcase the orchestra’s full range of musical styles, with both familiar selections and new works,” according to a news release.

“We are already planning for a season of Soulful performances in 2020 that will continue to redefine music and how we experience it,” Kennedy said.

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