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LA Phil Cancels Fall Season, Considers Next Steps

July 16, 2020

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is following suit. The orchestra announced today that it is canceling performances for the rest of the year — through Dec 31, 2020. This news comes a month after other arts organizations — the Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Symphony — scrapped their fall seasons and two days after California Governor Gavin Newsom put a halt on the state’s reopening plans.

The coronavirus is now making a dent in the Phil’s 2020–2021 season, having already forced the cancellation of the orchestra’s Hollywood Bowl season and concerts at Disney Hall since March 12. SFCV reported in May that those summer and spring cancellations would amount to an $80 million loss for the LA Phil.

What was on the schedule for fall 2020: two major operas (Nixon in China, Tristan und Isolde), both revival productions for the LA Phil, along with the usual new music, guest artists, and Mahler symphonies. This latest round of cancellations also cuts into two programming initiatives slated to start this year, the Pan-American Music Initiative and America: The Stories We Tell, series that stretch into 2021.

Prior to today’s announcement, a couple of visiting ensembles had already pulled out of the LA Phil’s fall season: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in October and Stuttgart Bach Akademie in November. Travel and A-list guest artists are an essential part of the programming equation and one of the key factors — along with large crowds and indoor venues — that suggest we won’t being seeing a normal concert season anytime soon.

So 2020 will continue at a distance. There are the longstanding places to hear the LA Phil at home — this Sunday on KUSC, recordings already released or in the works — plus a new TV series with KCET and, with any luck and some creativity, maybe even new performances on the way.

Peter Feher is an editor at SFCV. He can be reached at [email protected].