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Santa Cruz Symphony Bends Its 2020–2021 Season in Order Not to Break It

May 5, 2020

Reflecting the realities of the current crisis, the Santa Cruz Symphony’s 2020­–2021 season announcement is one big contingency plan. They will hold their concerts whenever it becomes safe to do so, reserving the possibility of changing dates or canceling up until the last moment.

In order to do this, the orchestra has had to give up selling subscriptions for the upcoming season, which, after all, is why you have a season announcement this far in advance. Not selling subscriptions will almost certainly result in some lost income, but on the other hand, there will not be the headache of issuing refunds and communicating with subscribers about the fate of the fall concerts.

Behind all of this is a calculation of when the orchestra and audience will be able to return to the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. Some orchestras and music presenters hope that the fall 2020 season can be preserved, but the SCS management and board seem to consider winter 2021 more likely:

“We felt it was prudent to not sell subscriptions when we can’t be 100 percent certain we can actually perform all those concerts as the safety of our patrons and musicians is our top concern,” said Executive Director Dorothy Wise. “Instead we will perform individual concerts if and when we are cleared to do so. Those concerts we are not able to perform, which most likely will include our scheduled 2020 dates, will be postponed to a later date.”

This is usually the place where I wax poetic over the exciting programs headed our way, but Santa Cruz Symphony is being cagey with that information, since they expect the fall to be lost. The orchestra announced that pianist Yuja Wang would once again join conductor Daniel Stewart in February 2021. An all-Beethoven program was planned, as was Carmina Burana, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Brahms’s Fourth Symphony, and a large Philip Glass conception titled LIFE: A Journey Through Time with images by local National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting.

In the meantime, the orchestra will air a new series of music on digital platforms, “which will directly connect our audience with our musicians and special guest artists in a variety of formats,” said Music Director Daniel Stewart.                             

Like many arts organizations, the Santa Cruz Symphony set up a musician’s relief fund that is still active. It has raised $80,000 so far, the first disbursements of which have gone out to the orchestra’s players.

Michael Zwiebach is the senior editor/ content manager for SFCV. He assigns all articles and content, manages the writing staff and does editing. A member of SFCV from the beginning, Michael holds a Ph.D. in music history from the University of California, Berkeley.