The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s four-city tour to East Asia (Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shanghai) with Andris Nelsons, 6–16 February, has been cancelled due to increasing concerns over widely documented official news and government agency reports assessing the spread of the new coronavirus. These concerns, along with discussions with the Shanghai Oriental Art Center—whose leadership informed the BSO about the official cancellations of their upcoming performances—followed by consultations with the tour’s presenters in Seoul, Taipei, and Hong Kong, combined to play an influential role in the cancellation of the BSO’s East Asia tour.
“On behalf of everyone at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, we are all deeply disappointed that we will not be able to perform for the wonderful audiences in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shanghai,” said BSO President and CEO Mark Volpe.
“Though this was to be the BSO and Andris Nelsons’ first visit to Seoul, and the BSO’s long-awaited returns to Taipei and Hong Kong, it has become clear through recent official reports that concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus have dramatically increased, forcing the orchestra to look seriously at the feasibility of proceeding with the tour,” Volpe added. “With the health and well-being of the musicians and entire tour party, including Yefim Bronfman, always of foremost concern—along with decision made by the Shanghai presenters to cancel upcoming performances—we have decided to cancel the entire tour. Unfortunately, this includes the BSO’s performances in Seoul, Taipei, and Hong Kong—areas much less impacted by the virus—as it remains unclear how travel in and out of these regions will be affected in the coming weeks.
“Our heartfelt thanks go out to our presenters in Seoul (Vincero Arts Management & Entertainment), Taipei (MNA The Management of New Arts), Hong Kong (Hong Kong Arts Festival) and Shanghai (Shanghai Oriental Art Center) for their understanding about the tour cancellation. We hope to work closely with them in the not-so-distant future to bring the orchestra to their fine cities and concert halls. We also want to express deep appreciation to Askonas Holt, who have scheduled and managed the tour, and TravTours, Inc., who have handled all travel and hotel accommodations. Every individual involved in the planning of this tour has been incredibly dedicated to its success, and we look forward to continuing our work with them on future projects.
“At this time of grave concern over the spread of the new coronavirus, our thoughts continue to be with those most directly affected by this serious public health crisis.”
Donagh Collins, Chief Executive of Askonas Holt, echoes Mark’s sentiments, saying: “We at Askonas Holt are so sad that, due to the new coronavirus, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s tour to Asia in February will now not go ahead. The safety of the musicians is our first concern. We will work with our brilliant partners in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Shanghai to bring the BSO back to Asia as soon as possible, and we apologise to all those fans who were looking forward to the performances.”
The Boston Symphony Orchestra is currently exploring the possibility of scheduling some concerts and special events in Boston during the next two weeks, the period of time when the orchestra would have been on tour. Among the activities being considered is a BSO concert, free for the community of Boston. Further details will be announced by early next week.
The 2020 trip was to be the orchestra’s 29th international tour since the orchestra’s founding in 1881. On other occasions, the BSO has been forced to cancel or significantly alter tour dates and personnel due to external factors. They include the orchestra’s 1960 Asia-Australasia tour when the BSO cancelled an appearance in Seoul, South Korea due to political unrest, and in 1999 when the BSO canceled performances in Beijing due to the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in former Yugoslavia.