San Francisco Symphony shuts down til September 2021

San Francisco Symphony shuts down til September 2021


norman lebrecht

November 10, 2020

With Covid-19 raging across the USA, the organisation has scrapped the rest of its program.

While it is deeply disappointing to have to cancel the remainder of the planned concerts in our 2020-21 Season, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 make it clear that this is the best course of action for the Symphony at this time,’ says San Francisco Symphony CEO Mark C. Hanson.


  • sam says:

    Why would they announce this one day after Pfizer announced extraordinary phase 3 results for their covid vaccine?

    Sure, the SFO is making classical music headlines in the NYT for the digital series they just launched with Esa Pekka Salonen in response to Covid, but to cancel into September 2021?

    • Rogerio says:

      Unless SFO concert-goers, their families, friends and acquaintances are given top priority in receiving the vaccine, September actually seems optimistic given the level of spread and the fact that until January Trump will be fighting the virus from the golf course.

    • Anon says:

      Anything EPS does makes headlines in the NYT

    • MWnyc says:

      Canceling to September 2021 simply means canceling the rest of the season we are (or would be) in the midst of now. January 2021 is only seven and a half weeks away.

    • Bill says:

      I hear that President elect Biden has stated that his first priority is to put classical musicians and their audiences first in line for the vaccine before himself, essential doctors, nurses and hospital staff, essential government, elderly and military and law enforcement.

    • TubaMinimum says:

      It’s not as final a proclamation as the headline makes it sound. SF would normally announce their summer season in the spring. So they might have cancelled the rest of their 20/21 season, but that doesn’t mean they can’t announce new concerts for the summer. Most organizations I know are viewing summer 2021 as the first possible chance to have anything resembling a “normal” concert. And that’s based on the idea of a vaccine being approved in the next few months, and taking about until then to be widely distributed.

      Cancelling often has more to do with starting the ticket refund or crediting process, since you are otherwise kind of holding people’s money hostage until you make a decision. So a number of their subscribers are expecting the whole 20/21 season to be a wash and might already be reaching out wondering what the deal is. So it is seen a customer-minded decision to rip the band aid off (especially since you will be trying to fundraise from that same audience.) If things radically change for the better. No reason you can’t plan a few new concerts in the late spring where you offer your subscribers first dibs on buying those tickets to fill whatever capacity is possible.

  • CA says:

    Who else thinks live concerts with more or less full audiences won’t be happening at least until 2022? Depressing and probably more realistic than anytime in 2021. How are these organizations ever going to survive, much less the musicians and staff? Living wage jobs in America do not grow on trees.

  • just saying says:

    Why not just hold concerts with socially distanced audiences? Lots of smaller orchestras are managing to have live seasons this year, where audiences are masked and socially distanced.

    • NYMike says:

      You’ve just said it – “lots of smaller orchestras” – SFSO and others of its size aren’t small. Almost all major US orchestras have canceled until 9/1/21 as has NYC’s B’way.

    • Brian Bell says:

      Among the “smaller orchestras” performing with a masked and a socially distanced audience is the Dallas Symphony, and the concerts, so far as I know, have not been the cause of a single infection. Having seen a video or two of some of their fall season, I can report that their concerts are wonderful. If they can give concerts in Dallas safely, what’s everybody else’s problem? I mean, besides the government authorities who equate symphony concerts with hockey games?

      • B. Guerrero says:

        It could be difficult to determine whether a “single infection” has occurred or not, given that the state that does everything bigger has now surpassed one million infections! I appreciate their efforts to have the band play on, but just sayin’ . . .

      • Chris says:

        It is nice to see at least some music being performed. Looks like Dallas is having a handful of events with reduced performing forces and – according to their Website- 50 to 75 audience members in attendance at each event (and livestreamed to more I imagine). Clearly not “viable” as a permanent solution, but if vaccines are not forthcoming, I’d love to see more groups move to this model for 2021-2022.

        • CA says:

          Probably has a lot to do with restrictions set forth by each individual state plus whether or not the orchestra owns, or rents, their hall. But, there are presumably other venues available in some locales. This whole thing is a complete nightmare for most everyone but for the arts-and orchestras-especially.

  • The Progressive says:

    Thank GOD!!!!!!!!

    All those uneducated masses creeping about infecting more people.

    Stop the spread man!

  • papageno says:

    In the meantime, SFS musicians will get 70% pay for doing nothing until 9-2021.

    • Terence says:

      A lot of executives and politicians get 100% pay for doing nothing.

      • Jackson Figueroa says:

        Cuomo and DeBlasio in NY haven’t taken a pay cut or DONATED PERSONAL FUNDS!!

        How selfish are Pelosi and Brown, Breed, etc.???

        • Jonathan Cable says:

          Brown??? You do know he’s been out of office for almost two years, right? Or are you just trolling for the fun of it?

          • Andrea Schultz-Marrin says:

            You’ve no facts to support ANY of their personal donations then???

            Typical Liberal who doesn’t know what their own people have done and gets triggered with basic questions.

            You think the shit and needles on the streets of San Francisco is artistic expression.

    • sam says:

      If this is true (and I take it to mean 70% of minimum union salary, not 70% of each player’s pre-Covid salary), SD should do a roundup of which major American orchestras are doing the best in terms of pay during work stoppage. On the one end, we have the Met, paying 0%, on the other end, it appears to be SFO, paying 70%. Prior reports suggest the NYPhil is at 30%. Chicago is unclear…

    • M2N2K says:

      The fact that the season – as planned and scheduled – is cancelled does not at all mean that the musicians will be “doing nothing”.

    • Kyle Wiedmeyer says:

      70% of their pay doesn’t go as far as one might think in San Francisco.