Marin Alsop -- here conducting a concert in Havana, Cuba -- was hired as the first chief conductor of the Ravinia Festival, the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. That is on hold now, as the 2020 festival has been canceled. AP File Photo/Oct. 9, 2015

Ravinia cancels 2020 season due to pandemic

For the first time since the Great Depression, the Ravinia music festival will not go forward this year

Ravinia will cancel its season, which was to include more than 120 events from June 12 to Sept. 16, for the first time in 85 years due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Ravinia CEO and President Welz Kauffman said in a news release Thursday that the decision was made to protect the health of artists, staff members and festivalgoers.

“Ravinia benefits from an informed and responsible board of trustees and engaged family of volunteers, and our lengthy and thorough discourse on this topic has brought us to the conclusion that it is impossible to move ahead with the season,” Kauffman said.

The festival’s summer conservatory, Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, is also canceled.

The oldest music festival in the country, Ravinia has operated continuously since 1904, except at the height of the Great Depression in 1932-35.

People who bought tickets can receive refunds or vouchers for future performances, or they can convert their purchases into “much-needed tax-deductible donations,” according to the release.

Kauffman said he and the Ravinia staff are working on ideas to let people experience the festival from home, including virtual lectures, master classes and rehearsals for elementary students in Cook and Lake counties in Reach Teach Play programs, as well as young professionals who were accepted to the Steans Music Institute this year.

Don Civgin, Ravinia board chairman, said the pandemic “has impacted so much of our lives in dramatic ways.”

“Ravinia will do its part in helping the nation recover, and we will celebrate that recovery with music under the stars next summer,” he said.

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