Latest News

San Francisco Symphony cancels UNC concerts over HB2

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony.
Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony. San Francisco Symphony

The San Francisco Symphony has canceled its North Carolina concerts, both in Chapel Hill, over House Bill 2.

The symphony had performances scheduled for April 5 and 6 at UNC’s Memorial Hall, but announced Monday in emails to ticket holders that it was canceling those shows because of the state’s controversial law.

House Bill 2, also known as the “bathroom bill,” requires visitors to schools and other government facilities to use the bathroom of the gender that appears on their birth certificates.

The bill also prohibits local governments from enacting their own discrimination laws. It created a statewide law that bans discrimination on the basis of “race, religion, color, national origin or biological sex,” leaving out sexual orientation and gender identity as categories protected from discrimination.

The symphony released a statement about its concert cancellations Monday.

“In the months after HB 2 became law, we have closely watched the fluctuating political landscape in hopes that the law would be overturned,” said Brent Assink, symphony executive director. “Because that has not yet happened, and due to pressing internal travel deadlines, the San Francisco Symphony has made the decision to cancel its concerts at this time.”

Assink said the cancellation isn’t the fault of Carolina Performing Arts or UNC, “but in response to the North Carolina state legislature’s decision to enact HB 2.”

“We would have loved to perform at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a community that in many ways is consonant with our own San Francisco Bay Area,” Assink said. “But we also feel we must join our city, our state, the NBA, NCAA and the many artists, organizations and businesses who have chosen to not visit or contribute economically to North Carolina until legislation denying protection for the LGBT community has been overturned.”

The symphony is supported in its decision by its Board of Governors and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, Assink said, “as they support all those striving for equality and inclusiveness in their community and beyond.”

Emil J. Kang, Carolina Performing Arts executive and artistic director and special assistant to the chancellor, said he’s disappointed the symphony canceled its UNC concerts.

“But I respect their decision to cancel,” Kang said. “UNC-Chapel Hill policies – including protections for sexual orientation and gender identity – remain in effect, and we have never enforced HB2 on our campus. We at Carolina Performing Arts will continue to foster inclusion and strive to provide an open, welcoming environment for all patrons.”

Carolina Performing Arts says it will credit all ticket holder accounts for a future 2016-17 performance. For more information, call 919-843-3333.