The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed Nashville Symphony Association leaders to cancel their 2020-21 concert season, with 128 full-time staffers — including Music Director and Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero — to be furloughed.
The fuloughs are effective July 1 and will run through July 31 of next year. They involve 79 musicians (the entire instrumental and conducting team) and 49 full-time staff members, according to a release. Of note, 18 full-time employees remain on staff, including President and CEO Alan Valentine.
"Our goal is to get back into the business of offering concerts as soon as possible," Valentine said.
Mark Peacock, the Symphony's board chair, called the decision “difficult and painful.”
“The Nashville Symphony’s management and board of directors have been exploring every available option to ensure the long-term sustainability of the institution,” Peacock said in the release. “In light of our current challenges, we firmly believe today’s decision is the best course of action to ensure that the Nashville Symphony can continue serving our community in the long run.”
Peacock said based on epidemiological projections, suspending concert activity for a full season will “provide a sufficient foundation for the symphony to conserve its resources until the orchestra and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center are able to resume activity.”
The organization said it is not taking requests to host private events during the downtime and is exploring options for its annual ball (held in December) and fashion show (in April).
“If we are to resume concert activity any earlier than expected, we are going to need enormous flexibility to experiment with new concert formats, social distancing in the hall and other safety measures," Valentine said. "The season we originally planned for 2020/21 is not the right season of concerts for that kind of experimentation, nor does it allow for the flexibility we will need.”
This is the second major setback for the nonprofit since it made the Schermerhorn its home in 2006. It suffered hugely during the Great Flood of 2010, losing valuable instruments and taking structural damage.