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Conductor Andris Nelsons with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which was to have performed the opening concert of the Hong Kong Arts Festival on February 12. It has cancelled its East Asia tour because of the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Hilary Scott

Boston Symphony Orchestra cancels Asia tour over coronavirus outbreak; Hong Kong Arts Festival ‘disappointed’ – its concert was to have opened the festival

  • Orchestra was to have played in four cities, including Shanghai, all of which have confirmed cases of coronavirus, which WHO has declared a global emergency
  • Venue for its Hong Kong Arts Festival concerts has been closed indefinitely along with others hosting festival events

A major American symphony orchestra has cancelled its East Asia tour to four cities, including Hong Kong, citing concerns over the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra was to have opened the Hong Kong Arts Festival on February 12 in the first of two concerts in the city. However, the venue for the concerts, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, and other public performance venues were closed indefinitely this week to avoid large gatherings of people when the Hong Kong government declared an emergency because of the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 200 people in China.

The four cities the orchestra had planned to perform in – Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Taipei – have all confirmed cases of the deadly virus South Korea reported the first local case of human-to-human transmission on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak a global public health emergency, prompting the US State Department to warn its citizens: “Do not travel to China.”

The Hong Kong Cultural Centre where the Boston Symphony Orchestra was to have performed has been closed indefinitely by the Hong Kong government, along with other performance venues, as part of emergency measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Photo: AFP
“All of us at the Boston Symphony Orchestra are incredibly sad to have to cancel our tour to East Asia,” said music director Andris Nelsons, who was set to lead its return to Hong Kong after an absence of more than 25 years.
In a statement, the Hong Kong Arts Festival said: “The Hong Kong Arts Festival sincerely regrets the inconvenience to its audiences caused by this cancellation, and shares the disappointment of music lovers in Hong Kong who have warmly anticipated these concerts.
All of us at the Boston Symphony Orchestra are incredibly sad to have to cancel our tour to East Asia
Andris Nelsons, Boston Symphony Orchestra music director

“The Hong Kong Arts Festival is monitoring the current situation closely and is in touch with relevant venues, artists and authorities.”


Festival organisers said updates on the programme information would be announced on the official festival website and Facebook page. The festival was due to feature 123 events involving nearly 1,800 international and Hong Kong artists.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra said it was trying to schedule some concerts in Boston during the period of time when it would have been on tour.

Ticket holders should check the arts festival website for information about refunds.