Regarding Coronavirus Concerns

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Inc. COVID-19 (Coronavirus) FAQ

Updated: May 15, 2020 


Has the BSO/Boston Pops cancelled any concerts/programs in response to COVID-19?

The BSO has cancelled all live performances and events at Symphony Hall in Boston and at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts. This includes all Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Tanglewood Learning Institute and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra performances and events through August 27, 2020.

Why were these concerts/programs canceled?

Maintaining the health and safety of the BSO’s audiences, musicians and staff is our top priority. The BSO’s decision to cancel performances and events has been influenced by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, ongoing official news reports, and an abundance of concern for what the organization can do to help ensure the well-being of everyone in the BSO community.

Does the Spring Pops cancelation include Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 3 and 4 on the Charles River Esplanade?

This July 4, the Boston Pops will present A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes to pay tribute to the COVID-19 frontline workers and honor those who have lost their lives during the current health crisis, while also celebrating our diverse nation’s founding values of liberty and justice for all. With public gatherings now banned, A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes will be available only on television, radio, and digital media; no live performance at the DCR Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade will take place.

Featuring newly created content from the Boston Pops and guest artists, as well as traditional Fourth of July favorites and other highlights from recent broadcasts of The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes will air on Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg Radio, and Boston’s WHDH-TV, on Saturday, July 4, starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Has the Tanglewood season or the summer season of Tanglewood Learning Institute also been canceled?

Due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has announced that live performances and events scheduled at Tanglewood for the 2020 summer season will not take place as initially planned. Although we cannot gather in person this summer, we are very pleased to be able to keep the spirit of Tanglewood alive through Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival, a series of newly created and archival digital offerings for all to enjoy featuring artists and programs of the originally announced 2020 Tanglewood season. Starting July 1, free and pay-per view Tanglewood 2020 at Home audio and video content can be accessed online with purchases available beginning on June 15.

A NOTE ABOUT POPULAR ARTIST CONCERTS

At this time, a number of Popular Artists have rescheduled their concerts for the 2021 Popular Artist season: Ringo Starr will now appear on Saturday, June 19, 2021; Trey Anastasio will now appear Friday, June 18, 2021; Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie will appear Sunday, June 20, 2021; James Taylor will make his annual July 4th appearance during the 2021 season; and Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me! will take place on Thursday, August 26, 2021. New dates for the remaining popular artists will be forthcoming.
If you currently hold tickets to the rescheduled concerts, your tickets will be honored for the postponed date next year. If you are unable to attend the new date, please contact Symphony Charge at 617-266-1200 or customerservice@bso.org for further assistance.

I asked for a refund/credit/donation to the summer 2020 Tanglewood season, when will I hear from you?

Thank you for your patience as we work to process this request for you. Due to the volume of orders our ticketing team is processing, we are experiencing a longer than normal response time. Please know that we are working expeditiously as possible to take care of your request. You will receive an email order confirmation when your request has been completed.

Is the BSO proceeding with the plans for the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 2020-2021 season amidst the COVID-19 crisis?

The Boston Symphony Orchestra looks forward to a time when live performances will again be possible. While we do not know exactly when that will be and given the time required to plan a full season of music, we continue to plan for our 2020 fall season, with the understanding that conditions at that time may require changes to our schedule. We will continue to work closely with local, state and federal authorities in the coming months to monitor those conditions and the safety precautions that are required in response to them. If adjustments are needed to our schedule, we make decisions with the health and safety of our orchestra, staff, artists and ticketholders as our highest priority.

What is the BSO/Boston Pops doing until concerts resume? How can I stay connected to the BSO?

To stay up to date on the latest news from the BSO and Boston Pops, we encourage you to visit bso.org where you can sign up to hear from us by email and find links to follow us on social media. To stay connected to our music, we also invite you to enjoy our new and growing collection of performances and behind-the-scenes content at www.bso.org/athome.

  • BSO at Home: BSO at Home offers ongoing audio, video, behind-the-scenes features, and personal videos from BSO musicians.
  • BSO HomeSchool: BSO HomeSchool will offer video tutorials with BSO musicians made to support students and at-home learning.
  • Boston Pops at Home: Boston Pops at Home, an online initiative to be released in early May, will be modeled in part on BSO at Home with performances by Boston Pops musicians.

What can I do to help the BSO/Boston Pops while live performances are unable to take place?

As a nonprofit, the BSO and Boston Pops rely on revenue from ticket sales which covers nearly half of our budget. You can help in any of these ways:

  • Donate the value of your tickets back to the BSO. Contact the BSO’s Customer Service Department at customerservice@bso.org or call 617-266-1200.
  • Several generous BSO Board members and friends have joined together in these unprecedented times to match contributions made to the Boston Symphony Orchestra from May 15 through August 31, 2020. The matched funds apply to new annual contributions and ticket donations, both of which are tax-deductible. The matched funds enable the BSO – the non-profit organization that owns and operates Tanglewood – to share the joy of music online with the Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival and other virtual programming, and to ensure that the BSO and Tanglewood are ready and able to welcome concertgoers in-person when the time is right. Beyond the joy that comes from supporting musical artists and programs, donors of $100 or more will receive complimentary access to all programs in the Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival. Give today to amplify the impact.

I have tickets to a BSO, Boston Pops or Tanglewood programs. What options do I have?

As a nonprofit, the BSO relies on revenue from ticket sales, which cover nearly half of our budget. We encourage those holding tickets from canceled concerts and programs to donate the value of the tickets to the BSO as a contribution.

Ticket holders have several options:

  • Donate the unused tickets as a contribution to the BSO for the total ticket value
  • Receive a credit on your BSO account to be used for a future BSO subscription or performance
  • Request a refund for the value of the tickets purchased

Contact the BSO’s Customer Service Department at customerservice@bso.org or call 617-266-1200 to donate your tickets or process a credit refund. The Symphony Hall and Tanglewood box offices are closed for in-person inquiries during this time. For questions related to Groups and Group Sales, please contact: groupsales@bso.org.

NOTE: Ticket donations do not count toward new or upgraded membership in the Friends or Society programs, and do not earn benefits in the way that annual fund donations do. To donate to the BSO’s annual fund and become a Friend of the BSO, visit www.bso.org/contribute. Gifts of all sizes are important and appreciated.

I have tickets to a different event at Symphony Hall. Are these events also canceled?

Beyond the BSO’s activities at Symphony Hall and the Linde Center at Tanglewood, all events presented by other organizations at these venues through June 6 are canceled or postponed. This includes programs presented by Celebrity Series of Boston, Handel and Haydn Society, the Boston Speaker Series, the Stockbridge Library Association, the Berkshire International Film Festival, and Berkshire Choral International. If you had tickets to one of these events, your tickets will be managed based on the below guidelines:

  • Patrons of the Celebrity Series of Boston will be refunded automatically. Questions should be addressed to boxoffice@celebrityseries.org.
  • Ticket holders for Handel and Haydn Society events (April 2 and 5 and May 1 and 3) will be refunded automatically. Please call 617-262-1815 for further information.
  • Patrons of the Boston Speaker Series are asked to retain their tickets for the March 16 and 18, and April 22 and April 27 lectures, which will be honored on a rescheduled date to be determined. Questions can be directed to comments@bostonspeakers.org.
  • The Stockbridge Library Association’s performance at the Linde Center on April 25, 2020 is being postponed until fall 2020, specific date to be determined. For a refund, patrons can contact the BSO’s Customer Service Department at customerservice@bso.org or call 617-266-1200.
  • Information about the Berkshire International Film Festival can be found at http://www.biffma.org/fall-festival.
  • The Berkshire Choral International’s performance scheduled on June 6 is postponed until 2021, date to be determined; additional information can be found at http://www.berkshirechoral.org.

What is happening with the BSO’s staff during this time?

Maintaining the health and safety of the BSO’s audiences, musicians, and staff is our top priority. As of March 16, BSO offices have been closed to all but essential building personnel and staff is working remotely from home.

To mitigate the financial impact of the global health crisis and help ensure the future of its 139-year legacy, the BSO is implementing a series of cost containment measures throughout the organization, developed by the BSO’s board of trustees and management leadership team. Among the steps that are being taken are musician and staff salary reductions and temporary staffing furloughs. In addition, the BSO Board of Trustees is in the process of implementing plans for immediate increased fundraising that will play a critical role in addressing this financial challenge. Though significant, these measures only address a fraction of the losses resulting from these concert and event cancelations.

Is the BSO able to access federal stimulus funding through the CARES act during this time?

Although there are some provisions in the CARES act that provide modest relief, the BSO is one of only three orchestras not eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) because we exceed the 500 employee limit. This is mostly due to the large part-time and seasonal workforce needed to operate Symphony Hall and Tanglewood.

As Congress considers a fourth stimulus package, the BSO and its peers continue to advocate for support to nonprofit orchestras and musicians. If you're interested in learning more, or contacting your local representatives, please view the League of American Orchestras’ advocacy page.


“Though these are very difficult times, we are determined to continue to nurture what is at the heart of the orchestra’s core mission—to present live concerts of great works of music and bring tremendous joy and inspiration to our wonderful audiences. To everyone affected by COVID-19, we extend our most sincere wish that this period of health crisis passes soon. We look to a brighter future and returning to our cherished experiences of music’s power to unite us again as the BSO community.”  –Mark Volpe, BSO President and CEO