San Diego Symphony postpones first concert of 2022 winter season and cancels two others, citing Omicron surge

The San Diego Symphony Conductor Rafael Payare
San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare is shown conducting the orchestra on July 18, 2021, at the orchestra’s new $85 million outdoor venue, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. Citing the again-surging COVID-19 pandemic, the symphony on Thursday pushed back next week’s opening of its 2022 winter-spring concert season.
(Sandy Huffaker / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The ‘difficult decision’ was made ‘after consulting with local health experts’ about the surge in COVID-19 cases across San Diego County, the symphony said in a statement


The San Diego Symphony has postponed next week’s opening of its 2022 winter-spring “Hear Us Here” season and canceled two subsequent performances, citing concerns about the surging Omicron variant that has seen near-record case totals here this week.

The two canceled concerts were scheduled for Jan. 15 and 16 at the San Diego Civic Theatre and would have featured the symphony’s principal guest conductor, Edo de Waart, and guest violinist Simone Lamsma with the orchestra. The symphony’s Tuesday concert at La Jolla’s Baker-Baum Concert Hall by guitarist Jason Vieaux and an 11-piece chamber orchestra has been postponed, but no new date has been announced as yet.

The “difficult decision” to cancel and postpone was made “after consulting with local health experts” about the surge in COVID-19 cases across San Diego County, the symphony said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

The 112-year-old orchestra, the oldest in California, hopes to resume its new season on Jan. 28 at the San Diego Civic Theatre if the rate of new cases and hospitalizations has declined sufficiently.

“In light of the current level of transmission of COVID-19, we felt it prudent to cancel or postpone our performances next week,” symphony CEO Martha Gilmer told the Union-Tribune.

“In taking this decision, we hope that we will be able to welcome our audiences back sooner to enjoy live musical performances once again. Preserving and supporting the health of our musicians, our administration and our audiences is our primary concern.”

The symphony’s announcement comes just just one day after the 2022 edition of the Grammy Awards was indefinitely postponed because of the again surging pandemic. It also follows recent announcements that at least four San Diego-area theater companies in San Diego — the Old Globe, Lamb’s Players, New Village Arts and Welk Resort Theatre — have postponed January 2022 productions or festivals by at least several months.

Reflecting the chaos of COVID-related closures on Broadway this month, several San Diego shows have been impacted by breakthrough infections

In addition, this week saw the cancellation of the San Diego-bound concert tour by controversial rapper DaBaby and the postponement of the San Diego-bound tour by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

On Wednesday, the California Health and Human Services Agency extended the state’s indoor mask mandate through at least Feb. 15 because of the surging number of COVID-19 cases statewide.

Prettyman’s Jan. 13 mental-health benefit concert at Belly Up is pushed back to March, while Mason’s entire tour with his Saucerful of Secrets band has been postponed and DaBaby’s tour is canceled altogether. Other San Diego shows have also been postponed

The symphony will contact ticketholders for its two canceled and one postponed January concerts “to share the options available for each patron.” Symphony music director Rafael Payare and his wife, cello star Alisa Weilerstein, both contracted COVID-19 last summer and made full recoveries.

In 2021, the pandemic forced the orchestra to cancel part of its winter seasons and all of its spring season, followed by a pivot to several streamed concerts in the fall without an audience. Had all gone according to plan this year, the symphony’s 2022 winter-spring season would have included 32 concerts at nine San Diego County venues and one in Palm Desert.

The 32-concert season will be held everywhere from Poway and Escondido to Rolando, Chula Vista and the orchestra’s new $85 million Rady Shell downtown

The symphony’s final eight performances of the season, all in May, are scheduled to be held outdoors at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, the symphony’s new $85 million bayside venue. When they resume, the orchestra’s indoor concerts for the 2022 winter-spring season will required all concertgoers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, present proof of full vaccination and wear masks while in attendance.