Vaccine or negative COVID test required to attend fall Fresno Philharmonic concerts, orchestra announces

In the latest of a series of continuing signs that the arts community is still struggling with COVID-19, the Fresno Philharmonic on Monday announced new performance protocols for the upcoming fall season. They boil down to:

• All audience members will be required to show proof of full COVID vaccination or a negative result from a COVID test performed within 72 hours of the concert day in order to be admitted to its fall concerts.

• Audiences will require to be masked while in the concert venue, whether it be Shaghoian Hall or Saroyan Theatre.

• All performers, production crew and staff at the fall concerts are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

• All concerts will be without an intermission and less than 90 minutes in length. Tickets and programs will be digital and touchless.

The protocols are necessary to keep musicians, staff and audience members healthy, said Stephen Wilson, CEO and executive director of the Fresno Philharmonic.


“While the measures we are putting in place go above and beyond what is currently required by local public health authorities, we believe they are a prudent response to the rising trend of COVID cases due to the Delta variant,” Wilson said.

Local arts groups have reacted to the continuing crisis with varying strategies. Good Company Players recently changed its policies at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater and the 2nd Space Theatre and is requiring theatergoers to show proof of vaccination — period. Negative COVID tests are no longer accepted in lieu of vaccination.

“For the time being and until conditions improve, we are not admitting anyone without proof of vaccination,” theater owner Roger Rocka said. “No exceptions. It applies to customers, staff, cast and crew. With Delta we are not a suitable environment for the unvaccinated. People are together indoors for several hours and unmasked for part of that time while dining. It just makes no sense unless you are protected from serious illness by the vaccine.”

The Fresno Art Museum is asking patrons to wear masks but does not require proof of vaccination or test results. The Fresno Master Chorale postponed its Sept. 11 comeback concert because of increasing COVID numbers.

Vaccinations and masking against the virus have (inexplicably) become controversial issues in many parts of the country.

For the orchestra, however, Wilson expects that the requirements will be welcomed by most Fresno Philharmonic patrons. That’s especially the case considering the older demographic that the Fresno Philharmonic attracts, which has higher rates of vaccination.

“I think most people will appreciate it,” he said of the new protocols.

The orchestra’s first live concert after an 18-month hiatus is scheduled for Sept. 11 and 12 at Shaghoian Hall. The program, to be conducted by Rei Hotoda, includes Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony and guest artist Joyce Yang playing Listz’s Piano Concerto No.1 in E-flat Major

A common-sense tip: If you plan to attend the concert, allow yourself extra time to go through the entry process. Rather than showing proof of vaccination when buying tickets, the checking point will come upon entry to the venue. (Obviously, someone could buy a ticket for another person, which makes an advance box-office vaccination check worthless.) Get those cards or test results ready to show.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Thank you, Donald. This is such important information!


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