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Britt Fest Cancels 2020 Classical Season Over Pandemic Worries

Image of crowd of people watching outdoor classical performance
Josh Morell, courtesty of Britt Music and Arts Festival
A classical performance at the Britt Pavilion.

The Britt Music and Arts Festival announced Friday their 2020 classical orchestra season -- scheduled for July 31 to August 16 --- will be cancelled because of uncertainty about the COVID-19 health pandemic.

Since 1963, over 90 classical musicians have come to Southern Oregon each year from around the world to participate in the festival. With increased travel restrictions to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus, organizers said holding the concert series as planned poses too high of a risk to the Southern Oregon community. The virus has also made pre-season work impossible, they said.

While the classical orchestra program has been called off, the Britt Presents series, which features rock and popular performances, has not been cancelled. But several shows have been postponed and some artists have had to cancel performances as a result.

Organizers are currently evaluating public health recommendations and current limits on gatherings from Gov. Kate Brown to make a decision about the Britt Presents series.

Festival organizers said they intend to offer all artists booked for the 2020 classical season the option to return during the 2021 season if they choose. They’re also exploring other ways to try to keep the concerts happening including virtual performances or smaller more intimate shows as “as conditions permit.”

Going forward, festival organizers have a variety of options for current ticket holders. Patrons can have tickets credited toward future shows, have the value of their tickets donated to the Britt Festival Orchestra or they can get a refund.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.