Grant Park Music Festival canceled due to coronavirus pandemic

The free classical music festival has been a summertime tradition in Chicago since 1935.

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Carlos Kalmar conducts the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus in 2013

Carlos Kalmar conducts the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus in 2013.

Walter Mitchell

Chicago’s outdoor music festival season has suffered its latest casualty due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Grant Park Music Festival on Monday announced the cancellation of its 2020 season, originally set for June 10-Aug. 15 at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and other locations across the Chicago area. More than 300,000 people attend the festival each year.

The free classical music festival, featuring the Grant Park Orchestra, under the direction of artistic director and principal conductor Carlos Kalmar, and the Grant Park Chorus, under the direction of Christopher Bell, has been a summertime tradition since 1935. Attracting world-renowned musicians and singers from across the country and around the world, the festival has continuously provided a diverse repertoire of classical music favorites and world premieres. In addition, the festival has been home to classic movie nights (featuring the orchestra providing live accompaniment to screenings of some of Hollywood’s greatest musicals) and Broadway show celebrations.

Among the festival’s canceled events are the annual Independence Day Salute extravaganza, all neighborhood parks programming, as well as master classes and open rehearsals. 

“We’re still working to calculate the losses we will experience as a result of a summer without the Grant Park Music Festival,” said festival president and CEO Paul Winberg in statement. ”We hope our longstanding friends and donors will continue to maintain their support during this difficult time, helping the festival to return next summer stronger and more vibrant than ever.”

The news comes on the heels of several other summer music festival cancellations recently announced, including the Chicago Blues Festival, the Chicago Gospel Festival, the Chicago House Music Conference & Festival and the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park.

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