Classical music fans in the Mountain State might have to wait a little longer until their next symphony at Charleston’s Clay Center.
The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra has canceled the first half of its 2020-21 season because of safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like most other performing arts groups, the symphony canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 season in March, as coronavirus safety restrictions were put into place. It had been scheduled to return Oct. 3.
The half-season cancellation is five shows — three symphonic and two pops concerts. The dates of those shows were Oct. 3, Oct. 17, Nov. 14, Dec. 5 and Jan. 9, 2021.
The WVSO’s annual collaboration with Charleston Ballet for its holiday performance of “The Nutcracker” also is canceled. Details about any new events will be released as they become available.
While the coronavirus pandemic affects the upcoming season, the WVSO said its partnership with Kanawha County Schools will continue.
Marketing director Amanda McDonald said the situation for the new season is not ideal.
“It’s not what we were hoping for,” she said. “We were extremely optimistic through the summer that we would get to a place where we would be able to perform concerts, but with state regulations and federal guidelines, there’s just no way for us to perform inside a hall with an audience.”
Current plans call for the WVSO to return Feb. 6, 2021, with its pops series and “Harry Potter versus Star Wars.” That show originally was scheduled for Feb. 27, 2021.
In the meantime, the symphony is exploring other programming options, such as live streaming. Finding a way to host concerts of some kind would allow at least some symphony players to earn an income. Many musicians have been unable to work since the start of the pandemic lockdown.
“We’re having ongoing discussions with the musicians union and trying to come up with some ideas,” McDonald said.
Some of the programs and guests scheduled from these lost shows could be reincorporated in a streaming show or revisited for a live show at a later date, but McDonald said no decisions have been made yet.
Symphony subscribers or ticket holders may get refunds by contacting the Clay Center box office, at 304-561-3570, or by visiting theclaycenter.org.
The loss of these six shows, as well as the loss of the spring season, is a substantial hit on the symphony’s revenue. In a news release, President Joe Tackett said, “The WV Symphony Orchestra has been incredibly fortunate to receive steadfast support from patrons and donors, as well as corporate, foundation and community partners for 81 years. Nevertheless, we anticipate these cancellations will have a tremendous impact on the finances of the orchestra, so we appreciate the ongoing support of our community.”
The symphony is encouraging patrons to donate their tickets back to the WVSO. Patrons who choose to donate tickets will receive an acknowledgement for their charitable contribution.
For details about donating tickets back to the symphony or other questions, contact the Clay Center box office or WVSO marketing director Amanda McDonald, at 304-957-9880 or amcdonald @wvsymphony.org.