New York Philharmonic Cancels Entire Season for First Time in 178-Year History

The orchestra, which previously canceled the autumn part of its schedule, said it hoped to resume Jan. 6 but on Tuesday scrapped all concerts through June 13, 2021, due to the coronavirus

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The New York Philharmonic will miss an entire season for the first time in its 178-year history and is seeking to expedite the renovation of David Geffen Hall that had been set to impact performances through February 2024.

Philharmonic President Deborah Borda said Tuesday that cancellations caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic caused $10 million in ticket losses on its $87 million budget for 2019-20 and another $20 million in losses for 2020-21.

Borda said the orchestra exceed its fundraising goals.

“No matter how well you do at fundraising, it cannot make up for those massive amounts of lost ticket revenue because we live on earned ticket revenue,” she said.

Orchestra musicians are receiving 75 percent of base pay, which comes to a weekly total of about $2,200, and some pay over scale has been restored.

The Philharmonic has not performed as a whole since March 10 and announced on June 10 that it had canceled the fall part of the 2020-21 season. The orchestra said then it hoped to resume Jan. 6 but on Tuesday scrapped all concerts through June 13, 2021, due to the coronavirus. The orchestra has cut its staff in half to about 70.

Borda said she hopes the full orchestra can resume performances next summer with performances in New York City parks and its residency in Vail, Colorado.

The orchestra launched NY Phil Bandwagon socially distanced performances with its musicians throughout the city last Aug 28 and intends to resume in spring 2021. It also will expand its orchestra streaming series.

Last Friday, the Broadway League announced the 41 Broadway theaters will remain shut through at least May 30. The Metropolitan Opera, which initially hoped to reopen on Dec. 31, called off its entire 2020-21 season on Sept. 23.

Tickets for the current Philharmonic season will be credited for 2021-22, or buyers may ask for refunds or donate the value.

Scaffolding is up ahead of a $550 million renovation planned for Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center that will reduce capacity by more than 500 seats, eliminate two-thirds of the third tier, cut the orchestra from 43 rows to 33 and increase the auditorium floor rake. The Philharmonic had planned to close the hall for construction from May to October in 2022, then again from May 2023 until February 2024.

“What we’ve been critically looking at is acceleration,” Borda said. “This, obviously, makes a strong case to move that along. We will have an announcement about that and an update before the end of the year.”

Negotiations are continuing for a contract to replace the agreement with Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians that expired Sept. 20.

“I feel very optimistic we’ll reach a mutually satisfaction satisfactory resolution,” Borda said.

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