The Koussevitzky Music Shed at Tanglewood. Photo: David Noel Edwards

Boston Pops: Cancellations and silver linings

At a moment of considerable gloom, the BSO essentially made its own silver lining - transforming bad news into good and gladdening the hearts of a few thousand surprised Bostonians. It's something the BSO is really good at.

Lenox — We learned last week that the Boston Pops Orchestra has canceled all concerts that were scheduled for May 6 through June 13. This is disappointing news to be sure, but it’s no cause for panic. With the regular Tanglewood season still on the calendar (fingers crossed), it’s way too soon to freak out. Sufficient is the trouble of the hour.

In late January, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra cancelled its tour of east Asia over coronavirus concerns, friends, fans and family members of the musicians breathed a collective sigh of relief: There would be no mid-tour reports of sick BSO musicians stranded in hotels and airports thousands of miles from home. Instead, the BSO would spend a couple of weeks putting on free concerts, including a chamber music performance at Tanglewood’s Linde Center on Feb. 9 and a Feb. 16 “Concert for Our City” at Symphony Hall (available for streaming through May 20). Thus, at a moment of considerable gloom, the BSO essentially made its own silver lining — transforming bad news into good and gladdening the hearts of a few thousand surprised Bostonians. It’s something the BSO is really good at.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the orchestra on March 12 to cancel all remaining winter performances as well as several Tanglewood Learning Institute spring season activities to have taken place in May at the Linde Center at Tanglewood, it became a real challenge to look on the bright side of life. To no one’s surprise, however, the Boston Symphony Orchestra immediately got to work creating a slew of new multimedia offerings designed especially for parents and children — updated weekly — and they are available for free at bso.org.

Then, when the Boston Pops announced on April 8 that it had cancelled its entire 2020 spring season, a personal message from Pops conductor Keith Lockhart reassured us that the future of music-making in Boston and Lenox looks brightest when both the musicians and their audiences are safe and healthy.

Of course, we will all be profoundly grateful if the summer Tanglewood schedule comes off as planned. If it doesn’t, then we shall seek out some desolate shade and there weep our sad bosoms empty. We expect to know for sure by mid-May. But whatever transpires, we can be sure that everyone at the BSO will be exploding with ingenious alternative programming ideas in the event of further cancellations.