With China’s emergence as a major cultural market in recent years, the effects of the coronavirus outbreak quickly rippled through the arts world.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra announced Thursday morning that it was canceling a tour of Asia that had been scheduled to begin next week. The Hong Kong Philharmonic called off a pair of Beethoven concerts this weekend under the baton of its music director, Jaap van Zweden, who holds the same post at the New York Philharmonic, after its venue was closed. Film shoots were shut down; movie premieres postponed; a dozen concerts by the Cantopop star Andy Lau were canceled; and some prominent galleries were calling for Art Basel Hong Kong, the prestigious international art fair scheduled for March, to be canceled.
The Boston Symphony called off its tour, which was to have featured the pianist Yefim Bronfman, after learning that one of the halls it planned to play at, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, had canceled its performances, and amid rising concerns about the spread of the virus.
“All of us at the Boston Symphony Orchestra are incredibly sad to have to cancel our tour to East Asia and disappoint our fans in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, but we greatly appreciate everyone’s understanding that we need to put the health and well-being of our musicians first and foremost,” the orchestra’s music director, Andris Nelsons, said in a statement.
Tours are hugely expensive undertakings for large symphony orchestras, and the Boston Symphony, which does not carry insurance for tour concert interruptions, will now begin discussions about costs with various vendors — including for its flights, cargo, and hotels — as well as with the concert presenters.
The National Symphony Orchestra, of Washington, is scheduled to perform in Beijing and Shanghai with its music director, Gianandrea Noseda, after several dates in Japan.
Gary Ginstling, the orchestra’s executive director, said that the orchestra had been conferring with government officials, presenters and medical experts as it monitors the situation. “We are paying close attention to this rapidly evolving matter, and expect to make a final determination about our China dates in the coming weeks,” he said in a statement Thursday.