Saratoga County

Latest COVID-19 cancellation at SPAC: The 2020 classical season

Tanglewood also cancels live performance and education programs through Aug. 27
The New York City Ballet at SPAC in 2019
The New York City Ballet at SPAC in 2019

Categories: Entertainment, Life & Arts, News, Saratoga County

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center Monday announced the cancellation of its 2020 classical season, becoming the latest event to be canceled there and elsewhere due to COVID-19.

The announcement covers the New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, as well as “Not Our First Rodeo” featuring Yo-Yo Ma, and “SPAC on Stage,” SPAC said in a release.

The cancellation marks the first time in 53 years that the classical season will not take place at the venue. 


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“So much thought, care, heart and soul go into crafting and preparing for our summer season that we truly think of it as a love letter to our community,” SPAC president and CEO Elizabeth Sobol said in a release. “To find it necessary to cancel what would have been one of the most ambitious and artistically inspiring seasons to date is just gut-wrenching and inconceivable.

“But the indisputable truth is that even with our park setting and our 5,200 seats, it would be simply impossible to find a way to keep the artists and the community safe,” Sobol’s statement continued.

Meanwhile, no announcements have been made on the Freedom Park Music Series in Scotia, Music Haven series in Schenectady, Harbor Jam series at Rivers Casino and Alive at Five in Albany. Announcements on some of those series are expected this week, officials said. 

The SPAC cancellation is the latest there due to coronavirus and the venue faces the loss of millions of dollars in ticket, rental and scholarship income. SPAC is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and depends on ticket sales, donations and corporate underwriters for 80 percent of its annual budget, which includes an education program that reaches an estimated 50,000 students throughout the Capital Region every year.

The hope is that the performances will return for 2021, SPAC said. Dates are being held for the New York City Ballet’s return July 13-17, 2021, The Philadelphia Orchestra on Aug. 4-21, 2021 and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in August 2021.

SPAC’s 2020 classical season was set to feature seven performances and four distinct programs by New York City Ballet including “Swan Lake”; 12 performances by The Philadelphia Orchestra, highlighted by all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies in four consecutive days under the baton of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and six programs by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, exploring Beethoven and his influences.

“SPAC has been New York City Ballet’s summer home since 1966 and this will be the first time in more than 50 years that the company will not be performing in the Capital Region, which is devastating for all of us,” said NYCB Executive Director Katherine Brown. “However, the health and safety of our artists, staff, and audiences is our number one priority at this time, and we support SPAC’s decision to cancel this summer’s performances.”

“Our residency at SPAC is always a highlight of our season,” said Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky. “As we look to the future with hope and optimism, we eagerly anticipate our return to Saratoga Springs and to our many longtime friends at SPAC.”

SPAC is offering for ticketholders for 2020 the option to convert all or a minimum of $25 of their ticket purchase into a tax-deductible donation and SPAC will then donate two 2021 tickets to first responders and local health care workers.

A number of rock, pop and jazz concerts scheduled for SPAC have already been canceled, including concerts by Dead & Company, Dave Matthews Band, Zac Brown Band, Bob Dylan & His Band, Alanis Morissette, Celtic Woman, Journey with the Pretenders, the Black Keys as well as the 2020 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival. Many other shows remain on the schedule. Any further changes will be announced directly by Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which programs and manages these shows in addition to their related ticket policies.

Tanglewood’s online offerings

The 2020 Tanglewood live performance and education programs, scheduled to take place from June 19 to Aug. 27 in Lenox, Mass., were canceled Friday due to concerns over spread of COVID-19.

Season offerings will now take place through Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival, a digital series of audio and video streams — including newly created content to be recorded at Tanglewood’s Linde Center in June and July — featuring artists and programs of the originally announced 2020 Tanglewood season and designed to capture the beauty and spirit of the Tanglewood grounds.

Free and paid Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival audio and video content, July through August, can be accessed through, as of July 1; advance purchases of digital offerings available as of June 15.

Newly created content includes Saturday evening great performers in recital video streams, spotlighting some of the artists who were to appear in the shed in 2020 and additional guests, including Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Jeremy Denk, Augustin Hadelich, Orion Weiss, Gil Shaham, Daniil Trifonov, Yo-yo Ma and others.

In addition to the Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival free-of-charge offerings, other online programs ranging in price from $5 to $12 for a single stream, to $8 to $80 for multiple stream packages, are available for purchase via, beginning June 15.

To donate, exchange, or request a refund, Tanglewood patrons can contact the BSO’s customer service department at or by calling 617-266-1200.

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