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Boston Symphony Orchestra cancels all live performances through spring

Friday's announcement also teased a new virtual series, with details promised later this month.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/file

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has officially canceled all of its planned live performances at Symphony Hall for the 2020-21 season, as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic keeps concert halls and theaters closed to the public. The 2020 Holiday Pops series has also been canceled, the orchestra announced Friday.

“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,” read a statement from BSO leadership.

For the BSO, pandemic-related concert cancellations started in February, when a tour to East Asia was called off. The first half of the 2020-21 season was canceled in late July, with a total of 86 concerts lost to the health crisis this season alone. Facing an estimated $35 million in lost revenue, the organization laid off 50 of its 180 administrative staff members in August. Numerous other American major orchestras and performing arts institutions, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, have also scrapped their planned live seasons through early to mid 2021.

On a lighter note, Friday’s BSO statement teased an upcoming announcement regarding new BSO digital content. Online offerings in the months ahead will include a collaboration featuring local hip-hop band STL GLD with youth and family concerts conductor Thomas Wilkins, plus a Holiday Pops series led by Pops conductor Keith Lockhart. Concerts will be available starting mid-November, with specifics coming Oct. 28 — the same day some BSO musicians will return to the Symphony Hall stage for the first time since March to record new material.


“One of the silver linings that has come out of this challenging period,” read the statement from BSO leadership, “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.”


Zoë Madonna can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @knitandlisten. Madonna’s work is supported by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

A.Z. Madonna can be reached at Follow her @knitandlisten.