Photo via Newport Music Festival

Midtown Oyster Bar

The Newport Music Festival, where some of the world’s most accomplished classical musicians and new and exciting talent perform in the houses of Newport, has fallen victim this summer to the coronavirus.

In a letter on the Music Festival’s website, posted today, Suzanna Laramee, president and chief executive officer announced the 52-year-old festival was cancelling its 2020 season. She said instead, the Festival will look to host a series of events around the winter holidays.

Festival events are typically held in mansions throughout Newport during the first three weeks of July this year it was scheduled from July 4 – 25). It has been recognized as among the leading chamber music festivals worldwide, with numerous artists making their North American or American debuts at the festival.  Since 1969 nearly 150 emerging American artists have made their festival debuts at Newport.

Photo via Newport Music Festival

The Music Festival is the first of the major festivals, in Newport and elsewhere, to officially cancel. The announcement comes in the wake of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s announcement of a slow return to normalcy, with crowds anticipated to be severely limited throughout the summer and individuals required to wear protective items, such as masks when in groups of any size.

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In her letter, Laramee said festival officials have been closely monitoring the course of the outbreak and following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and state and local officials. “We realize that we cannot proceed as planned with the scheduled 2020 Festival,” she said.

“While the world around us appears to change daily in the most inconceivable ways, I am determined to find the constants in our lives,” Laramee wrote. “These are things we all value that are immune to the ravages of this pandemic.

“For me, it is not hard to find. Every day the Board and the staff of the Newport Music Festival are working diligently to ensure our 52-year-old festival remains a beacon of hope and inspiration to our attendees, and continues to be an economic driver supporting local businesses as well as our beloved resident artists.”

She said the Festival is now working on what it calls a “floating season, one that will span through the winter holidays. We will feature what thousands of our annual attendees have come to expect: showcases from our internationally-renowned resident artists, family-friendly concerts, and appearances by some of today’s most in-demand artists of classical music, hosted in historic venues and beautiful outdoor settings.”

Laramee said events will be posted on the Festival’s website as they are confirmed and urged individuals to sign up for the Festival e-mail list to receive regular updates. 

For those holding tickets for the Summer Season, Laramee said the Festival office will contact them within the next two weeks, offering an option of converting the value of the tickets to a tax-deductible donation to the Newport Music Festival or obtaining a full refund. 

Laramee said the Festival is allocating a portion from the 2020 Summer Festival ticket donations toward a newly established Newport Music Festival Artist Fund. The remainder of the funds will benefit the Festival’s Annual Fund.

“The full amount of your tax-deductible donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar through the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust’s $500,000 Challenge Grant, doubling your impact,” Laramee said. Donors will become a Newport Music Festival Artist Angel and entered to win one of a selection of raffle prizes from the Festival’s community partners.

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