Provincial moves to curb influenza through vaccination have silenced the White Rock Chamber Music Program for the months of January, February and March.
Chamber music co-organizer Ellen Neal said Monday that significant numbers of audience members and potential performers who do not wish to get the flu shot have made it impossible to organize concerts for those three months, although the concert planned for Dec. 14 will continue as scheduled.
The flu-shot campaign has affected the program because the regular venue, Crescent Gardens Retirement Community, is subject to Ministry of Health flu-shot-or-wear-a-mask regulations that will be in effect this year from Dec. 1 until the end of March.
Neal said that ethnic and religious groups who do not wish to receive a flu shot represent a significant percentage of audience and performers in the by-donation series of largely classical and light music concerts – along with others who do not wish to have the flu shot for a variety of reasons.
“That means that some audience members would have to sit for two hours with a mask on – and for singers, it’s just impossible,” said Neal.
“It’s been a dilemma,” she added. “We had to cancel two young pianists for the December concert because they have not had flu shots and don’t wish to have them.”
Fortunately, singer Ping Erickson and guitarist Sandy Erickson and the Ernie Nicholl Mandolin Trio, also on the program for Dec. 14, have already received flu shots.
Fellow performers The Page Players (singer Leanne and sons Liam and Conner) who blend vocals with Celtic harp and other instrumental performances also do not pose a problem, she said.
“Leanne is going to get the shot, but her two sons, who haven’t had it, are going to dress up their masks like pirates. When you’re thrown a lemon, make lemonade – I thought that was pretty precious.”
Neal said moving the concerts series was not an option for herself and co-organizer Sharon Jones, who are happy with the Crescent Gardens venue.
“Both of us are tired of looking for other spaces for concerts,” she said, noting the series has had a series of moves from other retirement residences following changes of ownership.
The series will resume in April, Neal said, and performers who were already booked for the winter months have been moved to that and the May concert – while a June concert may also be added.
Concerts for the 2014-’15 season may be limited to September-October and April-June, she added.