Citing the sharp rise in COVID-19 Omicron variant cases here, La Jolla Symphony and Chorus announced Wednesday afternoon it is canceling the January and February concerts that had been scheduled to open its new season. Original plans to open the season last month had been pushed back because of the Delta variant.
The first performances of the year by the 90-person orchestra and 100-person chorus were scheduled to take place Friday and Feb. 5 at The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Center Theater in Rolando. The two free dress rehearsals, which would have preceded those two concerts on Thursday and Feb. 4, have also been canceled.
The nonprofit arts organization, which was founded in 1957, hopes to resume performances in March at Mandeville Auditorium, its longtime home venue on the La Jolla campus of the University of California San Diego. The Feb. 6 symphony and chorus concert at Mandeville has also been canceled.
Tickets for those canceled concerts can be transferred for use for upcoming concerts or refunded at point of purchase, according to La Jolla Symphony and Chorus Executive Director Stephanie Weaver.
The decision to shelve the concerts comes a week after the San Diego Symphony canceled its first three January concerts because of the pandemic’s dramatic increase in Omicron cases here.
Last week also saw UC San Diego officials announce — in response to the again-soaring pandemic — the university is extending mandatory remote instruction through the end of January.
“That’s part of the reason why we needed to cancel our January and February concerts,” Weaver told the Union-Tribune Wednesday.
“But we made the decision, independently, in order to safeguard the public and our musicians. We watched the conditions over the holidays and then met with Steven Schick, our music director, and with our board chair.”
Further compounding matters, Weaver noted, members of La Jolla Symphony and Chorus have not been able to access their rehearsal hall in the university’s largely shuttered Conrad Prebys Music Center.
The most recent performance by the chorus, which appeared without the orchestra, took place Dec. 18 at Saint James by the Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla. The orchestra’s most recent performance, which took place without the chorus, was Dec. 5 at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.
Assuming it can resume concerts in March, the symphony and chorus is scheduled to perform at Mandeville Auditorium on March 12 and 13, April 30 and May 1, and June 4 and 5. The June concerts will be the final ones before Schick steps down as music director, a position he has held for the past 15 years.
“As a result of the pandemic, we did a series of streamed concerts in 2020 and 2021, and did a livestream of our October 2021 fundraiser,” Weaver said.
A return to online performances is possible, she noted, but only if absolutely necessary.
“We’re hoping we don’t have to do that, of course,” she said. “But we’ll definitely try to find some way to engage with our audiences.”