Whitehall-Coplay Press

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOAllentown Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor Diane Wittry is in her 25th anniversary season leading the ASO. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOAllentown Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor Diane Wittry is in her 25th anniversary season leading the ASO.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOThe April 18 and 19 “ASO Classical Series” concerts of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra celebrating the 25th anniversary season of ASO Music Director and Conductor Diane Wittry are canceled because of concerns about the community spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). CONTRIBUTED PHOTOThe April 18 and 19 “ASO Classical Series” concerts of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra celebrating the 25th anniversary season of ASO Music Director and Conductor Diane Wittry are canceled because of concerns about the community spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Fest cancels 2020 season, Allentown Symphony Diane Wittry concerts canceled

Monday, March 30, 2020 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to roil the Lehigh Valley arts and entertainment scene as the crisis of cancellations continues.

The Allentown Symphony Orchestra concerts to honor the 25th anniversary season of ASO Music Director and Conductor Diane Wittry will not take place.

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival has canceled its 2020 summer season.

The Allentown Art Museum is closed “indefinitely.”

The 113th Bach Festival, May 8, 9 and May 15 and 17, might be in jeopardy because the campus of Lehigh University, where Bach’s mighty “Mass in B minor” is sung by the Bach Choir of Bethlehem in Packer Chapel, is closed until May 13.

These are among the latest arts organizations impacted by the March 25 order by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for residents of Lehigh and Northampton counties to “stay at home” and President Donald Trump’s March 29 order for social distancing in the United States to continue until April 30.

As of the deadline for this article, the Freddy Awards are still on for May 21 at the State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.

In a statement released at 11:16 a.m. March 30, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival announced “the cancelation of all performances for its upcoming summer season” in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

“It is with a heavy heart that we make this decision,” said Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy.

“We do so for the safety and well-being of our artists, staff, volunteers and patrons,” Mulcahy said.

“We’ll be back in full force for summer 2021, which we hope will include the same extraordinary plays.

“We’ll look forward to gathering together next season so that our audience may again be renewed and refreshed by the artistry they so enjoy,” said Mulcahy.

The 2020 PSF season, May 29 - Aug. 1, DeSales University, was to open with the children’s show, “Charlotte’s Web,” May 29, Schubert Theatre, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. PSF’s first main stage production was “A Chorus Line,” June 10 - 28. PSF’s “Luminosity Gala,” May 30, University Center, was to honor Dr. Lona M. Farr with the 2020 Will Shakespeare Award.

PSF’s 29th summer season included “Fences,” set to open June 20; “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” in repertory with “Sense and Sensibility,” and “An Iliad” and “Henry IV, Part 2.”

The box office and administrative offices are closed. The PSF staff is working remotely and will contact ticket-holders.

Allentown’s West End Theatre District is also taking a hit. Civic Theatre of Allentown closed, postponed its season and laid off its staff. And the 40th season of Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre is canceled.

Stage, concert and dance productions at Muhlenberg College, Lehigh University, DeSales University and Touchstone Theatre are canceled.

Postponed through April are concerts at Penn’s Peak, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Sherman Theater, Godfrey Daniels and Mauch Chunk Opera House.

Concerts at SteelStacks, Wind Creek Event Center and PPL Center have been canceled.

State Theatre President & CEO Shelley Brown, stated on the theater’s web site March 17: “Through March 31st, the State Theatre has suspended Box Office operations for the safety of the community at large. When it is possible to accurately determine the status of a performance, postponement or cancellation, we will communicate that information to you.”

On March 26, Brown updated that to: “By order of the Governor of Pennsylvania, we will be closed until April 7. When it is possible to accurately determine the status of a performance, postponement or cancellation, we will communicate that information to you.”

According to a State Theatre official as of March 25, a decision on the “Freddy Awards” ceremony, telecast live May 21 on WFMZ-TV and online, has not been made. Scholarships to schools and students will still be able to be awarded.

Gov. Wolf’s order for Pennsylvania schools to close March 16 - 27 was extended through April 9 (when students can return to class).

High school musicals performances entered in the Freddy Awards scheduled to be performed were not presented following the governor’s March 13 order.

At Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown, ”Diane’s Wittry’s 25th Celebration” was to culminate with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra “The Pines of Rome” concerts, April 19 and April 20. Also canceled: “Meet the Artist” with Wittry and the concerts’ guest violinist Irina Muresanu.

Postponed at Miller Symphony Hall: Take3, “Live OnStage,” April 4, with a new date to be announced; “Third Thursday,” The Lyric Room, April 16; “Musicians’ Sponsorship Dinner,” April 17; Hector Olivera, organ, ”Chamber OnStage,” April 20, and “Laughs at The Lyric,” April 29.

Canceled are “The Met: Live in HD Series,” including “Puccini’s Tosca,” April 16, and “Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda,” May 10, because The Met Opera canceled its season.

Miller Symphony Hall concerts in May are in a “wait and see mode,” according to a symphony official as of March 25.

However, Allentown Band Conductor Ronald Demkee in a March 25 email stated the Allentown Band “Side by Side” May 3 concert, with guest artists Joanne Pearce and Martin May, is canceled.

Still scheduled at Miller Symphony Hall: “The Music of Zen for Primates,” “Jazz Upstairs Series,” May 1; Allentown Symphony Pops, “Women Rock,” May 9, and Dan Wilkins’ Horizons Quartet, “Jazz Upstairs,” May 15.

Al Jacobsen, Executive Director of the Allentown Symphony Association (ASA), announced in a March 25 press release: “It is with much sadness and regret that I inform you we are postponing-cancelling all Miller Symphony Hall events through April 30, including the orchestra concerts scheduled for April 18 and 19.”

Jacobsen explained that “due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with all ‘non-life sustaining’ businesses now ordered closed by our Governor for an indefinite time period, it would be impossible for the organization to carry out tasks in the upcoming weeks in preparation for the April events. The safety of our staff, musicians, our audience and our community is our highest concern.

“This is a situation that is changing daily, even hourly, not just for the ASA, but for everyone in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. We will keep everyone in the ASA family informed as we face these challenges and look ahead as we welcome audiences back to Miller Symphony Hall in the coming weeks.”

At nearby Allentown Art Museum, the April 4 Gala is canceled.

In a March 25 press release, Chris Potash, Allentown Art Museum Manager of Marketing and Public Relations, said, “The Allentown Art Museum will remain closed until further notice. The date of the Museum’s reopening will be determined when conditions allow.”