The Helena Symphony has canceled their “Christmas in the Cathedral” concert that had been scheduled for Monday Dec. 7 due to COVID-19 concerns.
Maestro Allan R. Scott said with the increase in cases and the amount of asymptomatic spread in the community, the risks were just too great for his musicians.
“We have always said with our plan with Lewis and Clark County that we want to make sure not only is our audience safe, but also that our musicians remain safe,” said Scott. “While everyone was masked and distancing, we have cleaning supplies, everything is clean; it just feels too close for comfort and we don’t want the risk.”
The Helena Symphony had been working closely with Lewis and Clark Public Health to form a COVID plan for the event, and had one approved for Dec. 7.
“Christmas at the Cathedral” was to feature 40 singers and three musician from the orchestra. The chorale members have special COVID masks that would have allowed them to sing while following COVID safety guidelines. Singers would have also been spaced more than six feet apart.
The Helena Symphony has done five performances without audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic; all streamed online and free of charge thanks to AARP Montana.
“We’ve reached people in the state, throughout the country and even outside of the country,” said Scott. “We’ve been doing 3,000-8,000 viewers live for each of them.”
Scott says it’s been easy to see how beneficial the online concerts have been during the pandemic, and the therapeutic benefits of music.
“We are seeing the impact psychologically, spiritually, emotionally that the people are telling us the music making is having in their lives,” said Scott.
The Helena Symphony has taken a significant financial hit during the pandemic, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket sales. But even though they’ve been losing money, Scot says they’re not planning on throwing in the towel any time soon.
Digital performances will continue in January and if the vaccine roll out goes well, this summer will be one to remember.
“‘Symphony Under the Stars’ in the third week of July, the ‘80’s Night” we were planning last year will be back. If the roll out goes well and people are vaccinated, what a way to open back up social gatherings here in Helena with a gigantic party with the Helena Symphony and Carroll College,” said Scott.
The Helena Symphony is only possible thanks to the support from the community. A generous donor has agreed to match every donation up to $20,000 raised between Nov. 20 through Dec. 20.
More information on how to support the Helena Symphony and this upcoming concert series can be found on their website.