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Minnesota Orchestra cancels indoor concerts, offers outdoor shows instead

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold earlier this year, the Minnesota Orchestra played a concert to an empty hall. The concert was broadcast live on Classical MPR. Joseph Scheller/Minnesota Orchestra

Saying it can't present concerts inside Orchestra Hall under coronavirus safety guidelines, the Minnesota Orchestra has canceled performances scheduled in August and early September.

Instead, the orchestra will offer what it's calling a phased reopening in the form of 28 outdoor chamber concerts on Peavy Plaza in August. Ticketholders for the canceled shows will be offered free tickets to the new concerts, according to orchestra president and CEO Michelle Miller Burns.

"Seats will be physically distanced, at least six feet apart, arranged in pairs," Burns said. "The performance then will be up to 70 minutes long. No intermission. And the musicians are going to announce the musical selections from the stage."

The orchestra says a wide range of work will be performed, and that a piece from a Black composer will be featured at all 28 of the concerts

Audiences will be limited to 250, with masks required for everyone, including musicians. Woodwind and brass players will remove their masks to perform.

Some tickets will be available to the public through a lottery on the orchestra's website.

Burns says the chamber events will allow a return to live performance safely for audience members and musicians.

"The next step will be to see how we can move the concert experience back into Orchestra Hall," she said. "We are hoping to make an announcement about fall concerts sometime in mid-August."

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