For the past three years, Katherine Balch has been the California Symphony‘s Young American Composer-in-Residence, writing an orchestral piece called like a broken clock (2018), and a violin concerto called Artifacts (2019). This weekend, Illuminate, her song cycle for three voices and orchestra was to premiere in Walnut Creek, but concerns about the Coronavirus have led to the Lesher Center cancelling all of its performances through March 25th.
The Lesher Center’s notice about the cancellation can be found at their website.
As many organizations have realized, this was probably an inevitability. “The symphony did a really good job about communicating with me,” Balch says, “And it kind of became clear throughout the week… You know it went from… Not that it was explicitly said, but it went from like ‘Oh, there’s a 80% chance this concert’s going to happen, there’s a 70% chance this concert’s going to happen, there’s a 50% chance this concert’s going to happen.'” Despite the disappointment that goes with the cancellation, she understands there really was no choice. “Even a livestream of a concert, which some recital performers are doing as an option, because an orchestra’s already more than 50 people in a room sitting close to each other, the idea of social distancing is impossible, so there’s really no way to have large ensemble productions at this time for the health and safety of the community.” She, and countless other freelancers have been dealing with concerts being cancelled or rescheduled to some later date. “It’s easy to think like, ‘Oh this weekend would have been perfect, and it would have been a sendoff and a way to sort of end my residency, and start welcoming in the next young composer in residence, Viet [Cuong], and you know, I think all that’s still going to happen. It’s just going to happen a little bit later.”