Just in: Covid shuts Cleveland hall until midsummer

Just in: Covid shuts Cleveland hall until midsummer


norman lebrecht

February 03, 2021

The Cleveland Orchestra has just announced that it is unable to admit audiences to Severance Hall from March to June, as intended.

André Gremillet, President & CEO, said: ‘Until recently, we had been optimistic that we could welcome audiences back to live performances at the beginning of March. However, with uncertainty around case numbers, the introduction of new virus variants, and extended vaccination schedules, we have concluded that we must make different plans for the months ahead.

‘Therefore, after much thought and consideration, and through ongoing consultation with our partners at the Cleveland Clinic, we have come to the conclusion that, with the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, we will not be able to go forward with ticketed live audiences for scheduled concerts this March through June 2021. We are disappointed, as we know all of our subscribers and friends are, too.’



  • PaulD says:

    Just call it a day for the next two-three years. No way will authorities allow the opening of concert halls, nor will patrons go to them even if they are open.

    I’m beginning to reassess my own support of our local orchestras and opera. They will not come back for years to come. Better to be realistic and not throw money into a dying industry.

    • Jack says:

      I just donated a considerable sum to our local orchestra. If you choose not to donate to yours, and others like you do the same, that ‘industry’ will indeed die.

    • Boris says:

      I want to disagree but it’s hard not to

    • Boris says:

      Sorry I mean, hard not to agree with you *

    • Genuinely Confused says:

      It seems like in Europe, orchestras/ensembles are still trying to make things happen (currently or in the near future). In the Netherlands for example, many ensembles are still rehearsing and playing. I’m confused by the disconnect with regards to the situation in the USA vs. Europe, and the contractions between comments like yours and posts and announcements I see for upcoming masterclasses/festivals/concerts in early spring already — and beyond throughout the year.

      • FrankUSA says:

        In Europe,the situation is completely different. First of all,there are many radio-orchestras that don’t even require an audience to perform. There is also significantly more government support and funding for the “Arts” which include orchestras at all different levels. The situation in the USA is completely contradictory. We are seeing less government support of the “Arts” and we are seeing this attitude of music,the arts as not even being important. The status of musical
        Education is abysmal. The USA has been regressing for decades in terms of Society supported the Arts.

    • Skippy says:

      The performing arts need our support now more than ever. Eventually, life will return to “normal” but it’ll be a good five-to-10 years before that happens. In the meantime, we’ve got to find a way to keep these institutions–and the talent they exist to serve–going. The alternative is too grim to contemplate.

    • V.Lind says:

      Don’t be so defeatist — please. It may indeed be a couple of years, or even more. But the industry needn’t die — it may need to evolve. It has been heartening to see how much and how well people have tried to cope so far, but they have been working from day to day — if they see a longer-term disruption to what used to be normal practice, they may get together to try to see how to progress.

      The world has been here before, as recently as a century ago. Don’t forget that the Spanish flu pandemic, which killed a lot more people than Covid-19 and did not have the resources available that we have and are developing now — was followed by The Roaring Twenties. This too shall pass.

      Captain Tom, at 99, had a little idea and a small goal. Look what he achieved. Surely younger, healthier people with masses of talent and loads of incentive to build a life for themselves and others can come up with ways to keep music alive.

    • Jim says:

      Downvote all you like, but this is much more likely and clear and direct thinking like this would be appreciated from scared-to-death orchestra admins who keep kicking the can down the road 2 or 3 months at a time. We’ve seen what a fiasco vaccine rollouts have been, and it will clearly be a long time before the most severely controlled Western EU countries have anything like cultural functionality let alone the USA. Programming WILL be a ghost of what it was, seasons and offerings WILL be close to impossible to plan with any amount of travel limitations and variant-induced re-lockdowns this fall. Audiences WERE fading away in most markets pre-Covid and they surely WILL stay away in general even if an absolute vaccine were available tomorrow. Donors at the top end will be quietly wondering the same question – a few, not many, will support an orchestra that isn’t working. Most won’t. Mid-level donors (and espeically smaller donors like me) will need the cash we would have donated. This is a reality, folks. It’s gonna be a few distanced open-air offerings this summer and reduced activity across the board for awhile. Pretending otherwise, and PR spinning a month or two at a time, isn’t going to change it. Streaming, and little productions and outreach here or there is nice but doesn’t move the needle or the wallet. Be realistic.

    • CA says:

      I’m beginning to move to your side of the argument. Especially since the USA can’t get the vaccine supply it needs fast enough. Fall 2022 at the earliest for live concerts. Probably more like Fall 2023. By then donors will be fatigued out.

    • Laura says:

      Well, that’s one way to insure that they won’t come back…..

    • Tiredofitall says:

      It’s not so much a dying industry, but one that is slowly being murdered. I’d like to think that I’d try to prevent a murder, especially of a friend.

      Give generously to our cultural groups that are helping their artists and musicians during this difficult period. Those that show disdain or disinterest in those people who actually make the art should reap what they sow.

      There will doubtless be a reckoning when we finally emerge from this disaster.

    • fflambeau says:

      First off, it is not an “industy.” Music is an art. Secondly, it is not “dying” as shown elsewhere and by the popularity of online events. Moreover, I don’t believe it will be a matter of “years to come” but months. You are way off in every way.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Having spent 40 years with various musical organizations, it is indeed an industry , just as doctors work in the medical industry, teachers work in the education industry, reporters work in the news industry, etc.

        “Music Industry” may sound crass to many, but it’s how we who work professionally refer to it.

        “Art” doesn’t exist in a vacuum but within a structure that matches artists with audiences, which requires ticket sales and fundraising (including seeking government support), not to mention the provision of salaries, healthcare, and retirement.

        The arts online, while comforting during this time, does not pay the bills. Not even close. It does keep the arts in the minds of many during this period, but it lacks human involvement and interaction.

        We have to avoid being airy-fairy about the future of the arts, grow up, and realize that we will emerge to a much different cultural landscape. It’s no different from the restaurant industry or the retail industry. There will be plenty of fallout.

  • David Rowe says:

    When the infection rate drops to (near) zero and stays there, halls will open and audiences will be back in droves. That could happen by early summer. Or later. Nobody knows, but adopting a pessimistic outlook is likely to have an unnecessarily detrimental impact on our performing institutions. Let’s stay optimistic and remember that Dr. Fauci (who also can’t be certain) has stated he believes USA venues can be at near capacity by fall 2021.

  • jack says:

    What I find interesting in this announcement is that the CO through its CEO attributes its cancellation decisions to its own foresight and collaboration with medical professionals. But the reality is that the ability of the CO to perform public concerts is determined, in this pandemic, by the Governor of the State of Ohio. And as any arts organization, or public venue (including restaurants) in the state can tell you, the decision does not rest with them.

  • JussiB says:

    Very aptly named hall, Severance.

  • JussiB says:

    arts are not essential in society and arts organization are not essential businesses. So they will remain shut down for 2021.

  • Couperin says:

    This media hysteria about variants is becoming ridiculous. The vaccine works, just give it a little time!

  • FrankUSA says:

    The Cleveland Orchestra will be back. SECOND TO NONE.

  • Cleveland patron says:

    As with any northern city Cleveland has been hit particularly hard due to the cold winter, which is keeping people inside with some unable to socially distance. The orchestra’s decision to cancel the rest of the season is hardly surprising and given Governor DeWine’s mandates, perhaps inevitable.

    I’m am hopeful that the orchestra will be able to host some limited performances at Blossom this summer but that remains in some doubt.

    Meanwhile, the orchestra has made five virtual concerts plus archival performances available through the Adella app. This is free to subscribers and costs $35/month for non-subscribers – less than the price of one concert ticket.

    Depending on the vaccine rollout it may be possible to start limited concerts in the fall, although audiences will likely have to be distanced. This doesn’t pose that much of a challenge as those in at-risk demographics, particularly the elderly, will probably be reluctant to attend. And most of the audience is normally well over 50.

    • Birchley Poundbottom says:

      Cleveland Patron, I must object, it seems as if you are implying by “cold winter” that the season has something to do with the spread of this deadly virus. This is dangerous misinformation and will only irresponsibly encourage others to go outside in the sun when it warms up, with deadly consequences. Let’s all remain optimistic and hope that the Cleveland Orchestra will be able to offer live and safe performances soon and that our lives can all get back to normal once the vaccine finally crushes the curve.

    • FrankUSA says:

      Thank you for very special information as to how The Cleveland Orchestra is responding. It’s good to hear facts.

  • NotToneDeaf says:

    Does anyone understand why it is that some US orchestras and opera companies (and theatres, for that matter) are completely closed (a la Cleveland), and yet some others are partially or completely opened? Cincinnati Symphony (a four-hour drive from Cleveland) is performing to small crowds. Most of the orchestras and opera companies in Florida are performing with modest audience restrictions and no performer restrictions. (Yes, I know – It’s Florida.) Is it just a matter of receiving different types of advice? Different political stances? Or are some organizations just more conscientious? I honestly don’t know any more what is and isn’t legitimate so my queries are sincere.

  • Connie Davis says:

    I am a subscriber and was offered the option of in person concerts starting in March. I reiterated in email I wanted to attend IN PERSON. I received 10 generic tickets for general admission for one hour concerts content TBA…!! for my dress circle center front row seat. I was informed I would be given an arrival time and there would be no concessions and limited use of the restrooms whatever that means. I THINK the logistics of this “new normal” was just too much for them to organize. So they just gave up. ALSO if you chose NOT to attend ALL the concerts were going to be streamed. NOW they aren’t doing that either. THIS time I asked for a full refund. I got half credited to my credit card and the other half as a voucher for “future concerts OR to be used at the store.” If Cincinnati is offering live concerts…ALSO in Ohio…there is more going at TCO than is being admitted. Adella is JUST string players heavily masked I couldn’t bear to watch it anymore. In March SUPPOSEDLY they will be announcing the new 2021/22 season. We’ll see………won’t we

  • connie davis says:

    Guess what! TCO has invited “select” people (subscribers?) to attend IN PERSON tapings next week. I got my ticket and I’m going to ride 🙂