Pandemic forces CSO, Pops to punt this fall

Virtual and small ensemble programming to fill the void

Holding out as long as it could, apparently, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has been forced by COVID-19 to forego audience attendance this autumn in Music Hall.

Previously announced Music Hall concerts through Jan. 3 have all been cancelled. Instead, the organization will offer seven Live From Music Hall streaming concerts this fall, at no charge, plus additional digital content and numerous physically distanced, in-person events across the region.

Music Director Louis Langrée will conduct four CSO programs and Cincinnati Pops Conductor John Morris Russell will conduct three Pops programs, including a special digital version of Holiday Pops. Langrée will conduct the first Live From Music Hall concert on Saturday, September 26.

The CSO will also produce educational content for the virtual learning environment as a digital continuation of their longstanding commitment to Young People’s Concerts.

The seven Live From Music Hall digital events will feature all-new material performed live and recorded by musicians from the CSO and Pops in accordance with safety protocols. The live-streamed programs will be available on the CSO’s website and social media channels, and the orchestra is exploring the ability to broadcasting on screens at public spaces in Fountain Square and Washington Park. Current CSO and Pops subscribers will receive advance and on-demand access, along with behind-the­ scenes bonus content featuring the artists. The full schedule of programs will be announced at the end of August.

In addition to its virtual presence, the CSO and Pops will look to increase their robust schedule of neighborhood and community events with the expansion of CSO In Your Neighborhood – pop-up concerts in unexpected places and spaces featuring small ensembles of CSO musicians. Educational programming will support schools, educators and students in the region with free Young People’s Concerts, in-school programs and educator professional development activities available virtually. Also, Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestras will provide modified in-person activities and supplemental virtual activities available to all students.

Jonathan Martin

“It’s more important than ever for us to be a resource for and accessible to our entire community, which is why we made the decision to make our seven Live from Music Hall digital events free,” said CSO President Jonathan Martin. “We are actively re­-imagining our fall season and looking through the lens of diversity and inclusion as we showcase the exceptional talent and determination of the orchestra and our artistic leadership. Music and art and are vital to our well-being, and, thanks to unwavering support from sponsors and donors, Live From Music Hall will help us continue to make meaningful connections with our audiences, our community and well beyond Cincinnati this fall. We very much look forward to the day we can all be together again, and pledge to do so as soon as we can. In the meantime, we are committed to the safety and well-being of our musicians, staff, and audiences until it is responsible for us to return to Music Hall for public performances.”

The pandemic has also caused the cancellation this fall of the CSO’s 2020 European tour with Louis Langree as well as a pre-tour performance at Lincoln Center in New York City as part of the Great Performers series.

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