The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has halted all livestream performances, citing COVID-19 “rampaging in our community.”
The decision comes two weeks after the nonprofit canceled a performance after someone directly involved with the livestream tested positive for the virus. A spokesperson declined to say whether it was a musician or a staff person, citing health privacy concerns.
But on Wednesday, the nonprofit’s leaders announced the suspension of those concerts “to protect the health of our musicians, staff and crew.”
In an e-mail, Jon Limbacher, the SPCO’s managing director and president, and Kyu-Young Kim, artistic director and principal violin, said the decision was based on “two simple facts.”
“First, COVID-19 is rampaging in our community. The positivity rate is currently at 15% and growing. Second, the primary means for reducing transmission risk … is to increase the amount of testing beyond what we are already doing. However, because of increased testing demand in our community and longer turnaround times for test results, we are not able to manage risk with more testing at this time.”
Instead, the SPCO will stream past, pre-pandemic performances. This weekend, an encore concert with pianist Jonathan Biss, featuring works by Beethoven and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, will replace the livestreamed show scheduled at 8 p.m. Saturday.
When it canceled its fall schedule, the SPCO had hoped to resume in-person performances as soon as January. But on Nov. 10, the orchestra said it was canceling the remainder of its 2020-21 season, replacing it with eight livestreamed concerts from Jan. 16 to June 12. That schedule remains tentative for now.
In the meantime, the orchestra has been building its online Concert Library of more than 60 past performances, which can be viewed for free at thespco.org, along with an online education program aimed at families and teachers.