La Jolla Symphony & Chorus cancels January and February concerts because of COVID concerns

La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Music Director Steven Schick
La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Music Director Steven Schick is shown conducting one of its concerts. The organization’s 2022 season-opening concerts have been canceled because of the region’s sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

Citing the region’s sharp rise in COVID-19 coronavirus cases because of the Omicron variant, the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus canceled 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 for Jan. 14 and Feb. 5 at The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Center Theater in Rolando. The two free dress rehearsals on Jan. 13 and Feb. 4 that would have preceded those two concerts also were canceled.

The nonprofit arts organization, which was founded in 1957, hopes to resume performances in March at the Mandeville Auditorium, its longtime home venue on the campus of UC San Diego in La Jolla. The Feb. 6 Symphony & Chorus concert scheduled at Mandeville also has been canceled.

Tickets for the canceled concerts can be transferred for use at upcoming concerts or refunded at the point of purchase, according to La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Executive Director Stephanie Weaver.

The decision to cancel the concerts came a week after the San Diego Symphony called off its first three January concerts because of the dramatic increase in Omicron cases here.

The San Diego Symphony has postponed next week’s opening in La Jolla of its 2022 winter-spring “Hear Us Here” season and canceled two other performances, citing concerns about the surging Omicron coronavirus variant.

“But we made the decision independently in order to safeguard the public and our musicians,” Weaver said. “We watched the conditions over the holidays and then met with Steven Schick, our music director, and with our board chair.”

Compounding matters, Weaver said, is that members of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus hadn’t been able to access their rehearsal hall in UCSD’s largely shuttered Conrad Prebys Music Center.

The most recent performance by the chorus, which appeared without the orchestra, was Dec. 18 at St. 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 San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Assuming it can resume concerts in March, the Symphony & Chorus is scheduled to perform at the Mandeville Auditorium on March 12-13, April 30, May 1 and June 4-5. The June concerts will be the final ones before Schick steps down as music director, a position he has held the past 15 years.

The acclaimed conductor, percussionist and UC San Diego music professor joins Leonard Bernstein and other legends as a recipient of the award.

“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 said, 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.” ◆