Breaking: Boston Symphony calls off Asia tour

Breaking: Boston Symphony calls off Asia tour


norman lebrecht

January 30, 2020

Just in:

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s four-city tour to East Asia (Seoul, Taipei, Shanghai, and Hong Kong) with Andris Nelsons, February 6–16, has been canceled due to increasing concerns over widely documented official news and government agency reports assessing the spread of the new coronavirus. These concerns, along with discussions with the Shanghai Oriental Art Center—whose leadership informed the BSO about the official cancellations of their upcoming performances—followed by consultations with the tour’s presenters in Seoul, Taipei, and Hong Kong, combined to play an influential role in the cancellation of the BSO’s East Asia tour.

“On behalf of Andris Nelsons and the musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, we are all deeply disappointed that we will not be able to perform for the wonderful audiences in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shanghai,” said BSO President and CEO Mark Volpe.



  • Tomas says:

    They had no choice: things are going downhill fast here in Hong Kong and the concert hall has been closed. Another, better time, perhaps

  • Cathy Barbash says:

    In fact most Chinese venues closed, so decision was made for them.

  • MacroV says:

    Unfortunate though perfectly understandable. So now they have 10 days with nothing scheduled. Do they give the musicians an unplanned vacation, or set up some impromptu performances?

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Smart decision by everybody involved.

  • Joel A Stein says:

    I understand they are going to give a number of free concerts consisting of all the contemporary music the orchestra doesn’t otherwise program.

  • Karl says:

    How about a Super Bowl concert with the game projected on a big screen behind the orchestra?

    • Reality says:

      American football fans will be uninterested in seeing the BSO, or any orchestra. They want pop stars and salivate for wardrobe malfunctions.

  • Brucknerliebhaber says:

    Nelsons now has the golden opportunity to add a Bruckner Symphony to the current season in Boston to fulfill his ” One Bruckner every season” promise!

  • fflambeau says:

    I think it’s an over reaction. This is beginning to sound as hysterial as when the AIDS epidemic broke out. Lots of anti-Chinese elements in it too.

    The virus is already world-wide; staying at “home” isn’t going to help. Take some simple precautions.

    • jim says:

      Since most of the concert halls are closed and air travel has been restricted just exactly what did you expect the BSO to do? You’re right that much of the reaction here is stupid and using it as an excuse for xenophobia is vile and disgusting. However, comparing the current reaction to what happened at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic is also a bit too much, too soon and somewhat hysterical and I say that as someone who has been living with HIV for over thirty years so I know a thing or two about what happened back then. Comparing things to AIDS is a little like comparing things to Nazis. It’s generally the opposite of enlightening and usually just serves to shut down the conversation.

    • Christopher Clift says:

      Absolutely the correct decision. Why jump from a frying pan into this particular ‘fire’? Whilst there might be SOME risk of the virus being spread in the US by An incoming carrier, there is just NO point in inviting trouble by journeying to that part of the globe where it is particularly virulent.

  • sam says:

    How about a free New Year’s concert in Boston’s Chinatown?

  • fflambeau says:

    Boston is a fine group, but this is an overreaction, in my opinion.

    Boston is, however, in my top 5 USA orchestras. TheTop USA Orchestras (the Big 5 concept is long outmoded):

    1. LA Philharmonic;
    2. Chicago Symphony Orchestra;
    3. Boston Symphony Orchestra;
    4. New York Philhamonic;
    5. TIE: San Francisco Symphony and The Philadelphia Orchestra;
    7. Minnesota Orchestra;
    8 . Seattle Symphony Orchestra;
    9. Cleveland Orchestra;
    10. Atlanta Symphony;
    11. Washington Symphony;
    12. Tie: Pittsburgh Symphony and Dallas Symphony;
    14. St. Louis Symphony;
    15. Cincinatti Symphony;
    16. Detroit Symphony

    Also good (in no partiular order): Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; The Met Orchestra (downgraded because it mainly plays opera); Baltimore Symphony; Nashville Symphony; Louisville Orchestra; Colorado Symphony; Indianappolis Symphony; California Symphony Orchestra; St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; Pacific Symphony Orchestra; San Diego Symphony; Albany Symphony; Brooklyn Symphony; Rochester Philharmonic; Houston Symphony; Madison Symphony; the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

    As noted above, a significant shift in the rankings favors organisations in the West and South.

  • Ben says:

    Smart move. Perhaps give a few free pop up concerts like Philadelphia did when from time to time.

  • Ben says:

    Smart move. Perhaps give a few free pop up concerts like Philadelphia.