Orchestra of Northern New York cancels remainder of 2020 concerts

POTSDAM, NY – After serious consideration, the Board of Directors of the Orchestra of Northern New York voted unanimously last week to cancel all concerts for the remainder of 2020.

“COVID-19 remains a serious threat to the health and well-being of our musicians and audience members. We cannot take the chance that anyone will become ill because they performed in or attended an ONNY concert,” said Timothy L. Savage, board president. “We will return to the stage to create great music once it is safe to do so,” he added.

In mid-March, the ONNY board approved a six-concert season and $221,600 budget for the 33rd season of the North Country’s only year-round professional symphony orchestra. Then the corona-virus hit.

The Orchestra’s Finance Committee considered carefully the potential for decreased ticket sales and contract fees, fewer and smaller donations, and less program advertising from small businesses that are struggling today.  Even when social distancing rules are relaxed, many concertgoers may be hesitant to congregate in close quarters. If, as some predict, seating capacity must be reduced significantly to safeguard audience members, ONNY would not be able to cover its concert expenses.

The board has approved a three-concert season for early 2021 with a balanced budget for the 33rd season of $131,377. Concerts are planned to take place in the 1200-seat Hosmer Hall at SUNY Potsdam and the 500-seat First Presbyterian Church in Watertown, assuming large gatherings in public places will be possible early next year.

John Ellis, ONNY founding member and Principal Trumpet, will be the featured soloist for Inspired Baroque with performances at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, February 23, 2021 in SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall, and 3:00 p.m., Sunday, February 14 at Watertown’s First Presbyterian Church.

Anthony McGill, internationally renowned soloist and Principal Clarinet, NY Philharmonic, will be the guest soloist for Mozart & McGill. Two performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 24 in Hosmer Hall and 3:00 p.m., Sunday, April 25 at Watertown’s First Presbyterian Church.

Gretchen Koehler and Barb Heller will command the stage for the summer pops in July.  Celebrating Freedom is planned for 8:00 p.m., Thursday, July 1 in Thompson Park, Watertown. The Concert in the Park is an annual tradition in the city and was regrettably canceled due to the threat of COVID-19 this year. The second performance will be 7:00 p.m., Friday, July 2 at Hosmer Hall.

In the next several weeks, an Online Programming Committee, comprised of ONNY founder and Music Director/Conductor Kenneth Andrews, Executive Director Kathy Del Guidice, board members and musicians, will begin creating new ways to fulfill ONNY’s mission until live music can once again be created on-stage.

Savage said, “With perseverance and creativity, ONNY will weather this storm. Difficult decisions have been made more bearable with the resourcefulness of our Music Director, the fundraising and management skills of our Executive Director, and the unwavering commitment of ONNY Board and Watertown Advisory Committee members. I am thankful to each of them.”