ISO cancels Symphony on the Prairie, all summer concerts

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has canceled all of its summer performances through Sept. 17, including its popular Symphony on the Prairie season at Conner Prairie.

The move also cancels ISO’s Lunch Break Series, the last three Hilbert Circle Theatre concerts in its 2019-2020 classical series and several special performances.

The cancellations come even as Gov. Eric Holcomb has implemented a five-phase plan to reopen the economy—and allow events like concerts again—by July 4.

Still, the ISO said it “anticipates it will be several months before musicians and patrons can safely gather for concerts in reasonable numbers.”

“Even if concert restrictions are lifted mid-summer in the state’s reopening plan, the remaining guidelines combined with the infrastructure required for producing Symphony on the Prairie is so complex that presenting a partial season is not financially feasible,” the symphony said in a statement.

The ISO, which has 72 musicians and 54 full-time employees, previously announced it was canceling performances through May 27. It also said last month it had put its musicians and stagehands on furlough and laid off nearly half of its administrative staff.

But the organization applied for and received a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan, which allowed it to bring back its musicians, stagehands and administrative staff, said the ISO’s spokeswoman, Kristin Cutler.

“While everyone is working remotely, we are connecting with our community through virtual performances and events, including providing engaging education programs.,” she said. “We are offering all full-time employees normal benefits, including health insurance.”

CEO James Johnson said Monday that the most recent cancellations are “disappointing” but the “safety of our musicians, staff, and patrons comes before all else.”

Johnson said the ISO team had worked “tirelessly throughout the year to plan a summer filled with engaging orchestral programs and vibrant touring acts.”

The concerts that are canceled are:

  • “Five Beethoven Concertos. Two Pianists. One Weekend.” May 28-31
  • Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis,” June 5-6
  • Mandy Gonzalez with the ISO, June 12-13
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in concert, June 27
  • “Disney in Concert: Beauty and the Beast,” July 17-18
  • All Kroger Symphony on the Prairie performances
  • All Fifth Third Bank Lunch Break Series performances

Customers with tickets for the canceled performances can opt not to have a refund, which will give them a tax-deductible donation to the ISO. They can also exchange their tickets for a gift certificate or value pack for future performances.

Ticketholders must email the ISO box office at by Aug. 1.

“While this is an unfortunate and unavoidable setback, the ISO plans to come back from this hiatus to serve our community in profound ways,” ISO Board Chairwoman Yvonne Shaheen said in a statement.

“We will use this time to reimagine how our concerts and education programs can reach a larger and more diverse audience when we return to performing,” she said. “The board of directors is committed to ensuring that the ISO remains a vital cultural asset to the city and state.”

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7 thoughts on “ISO cancels Symphony on the Prairie, all summer concerts

  1. Looks like they have guaranteed failure. You would think they could figure out some way to make some of it work. Apparently they are poor managers and lack creativity. Their employees are shafted. If this was a real business they wouldn’t be so quick with shutting the year down.

  2. The bigger picture is how the propaganda of the Socialist Marxist Communist Democrat Anarchist Globalist with the fraudulently manufactured pandemic panic continues via economics to spread like a cancer killing our arts and culture which is the very soul of our peaceful society.

  3. I knew when this unnecessary panic began that it would ruin our economy. There are many now that say maybe this lockdown wasnt a such a good idea after all. I have a friend that has a very compromised immune system who has put 100 miles on her scooter the last week. She has yet to catch a bug.

  4. It is obvious ISO’s funding is not based on generating revenue or they would of figured something out. Even the orchestra continued to play (in the movie anyway) while the Titanic went down. The joy of music offset the depressing mood even if the inevitable was at play.

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