The Cleveland Orchestra announced Friday that it has canceled both the Blossom Music Festival in Cuyahoga Falls and the Summers@Severance concerts this summer due to the continuing coronavirus crisis.
"The decision to cancel our summer concerts was very painful to make, but it is being driven by an abundance of concern for the safety and health of our musicians, audiences, and staff," said André Gremillet, president & CEO of orchestra.
"Blossom is such an important venue for us," Gremillet said by phone Thursday. "More than half our audience hears the Cleveland Orchestra yearly at Blossom."
Ultimately, the organization couldn’t risk trying to social distance audiences at Blossom, though.
"The concept at this point in time of controlling this huge environment that is Bossom Music Center didn’t seem realistic,’’ Gremillet said.
The orchestra’s 100 musicians haven’t been together since March 13. The organization is looking at the possibility of bringing small groups together to play and livestream this summer as restrictions relax.
The separation has been hard for the musicians, Gremillet said, but about 40 have been posting educational content and performances from their homes on social media during the pandemic. The orchestra also continues to broadcast weekly on WCLV (104.9-FM) and online, and offers the podcast series "On a Personal Note" (clevelandorchestra.com/podcast/).
"These are artists, musicians, who live for their art, and to be unable to perform is really devastating,’’ Gremillet said.
Two of this year’s planned Blossom Music Festival concerts will be moved to summer 2021 — "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in Concert" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert." Tickets purchased for those movie presentations will be valid for the 2021 dates.
Lawn ticket books purchased for the 2020 Blossom Music Festival will be valid for the 2021 Blossom Music Festival. Other tickets can be exchanged for future credit.
Subscribers for Summers@Severance and Blossom who roll over their subscriptions to the 2021 season will also receive a $25 gift certificate to use at any time. For more ticket or subscription information, call 216-231-1111 and leave a message or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help the Cleveland Orchestra weather the financial impact of canceling the Blossom Music Festival, the William Bingham Foundation will match gifts up to $100,000 to the Blossom Preservation Challenge. To donate, see clevelandorchestra.com/donate.
In other summer news, the orchestra’s annual free "Star-Spangled Spectacular" concert in downtown Cleveland, usually presented around the July 4 holiday, will be rescheduled.
Gremillet said the orchestra is hoping and planning to be back on stage in the fall but it does not expect to be able to use its full 2,000-seat capacity at Severance Hall, due to social distancing requirements.
"Whatever the number of people is that we can accommodate, we will need to supplement that with some kind of livestreaming of the performance so we can reach our audiences at home as well,’’ he said. "We’ll take as many people as we can [at Severance] as per the restriction that the state will put upon us" and the advice of health experts.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or email@example.com