On January 30, 2020, the Boston Symphony announced the cancellation of its Asia tour due to novel coronavirus. The tour was scheduled for February 3–17, with eight sold-out concerts in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
Musicians of the BSO were asked to propose concert programs to present in lieu of the tour, as part of a “Chamber Music Neighborhood Tour.” These pop-up concerts were scheduled, by management, throughout the Greater Boston area and at the new Linde Center Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI) at Tanglewood.
The concerts were held at venues such as Horizons for Homeless Children, Angell Animal Medical Center, New England Center for Veterans, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Citywide Senior Center, and other locations, giving BSO musicians the opportunity to perform for the city’s most vulnerable populations. The pop-up concerts were open to staff, residents, and visitors at each location, but closed to the public. The concert at Tanglewood was ticketed and open to the public.
Participation in the “Chamber Music Neighborhood Tour” was voluntary, but many BSO musicians made a point to get involved, in some cases performing in multiple venues with different groups. A total of twelve chamber music programs were scheduled as part of this tour from February 9 to 14.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of playing at the TLI and at Angell Animal Medical Center. The concert at the TLI was sold out, well-attended despite the snowy weather. And the concert at the animal hospital was special as well. While I have always enjoyed our international tours, there was something memorable about performing for exceptionally well-behaved dogs!
In addition to the pop-up concerts, the BSO Chamber Players performed at WGBH’s Fraser Performance Studio on February 13. The BSO also played a free orchestra concert at Symphony Hall on February 16, with conductor Thomas Wilkins and cellist Sterling Elliott.
Note: the author is the ICSOM delegate for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.