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National Symphony Orchestra cancels China concerts due to coronavirus outbreak

Gianandrea Noseda leads the NSO at a concert in 2017. (Scott Suchman/National Symphony Orchestra)

The National Symphony Orchestra has canceled three concerts in China, which were to conclude its Japan-China tour next month, over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

The shortened trip — the first international tour with Music Director Gianandrea Noseda — will now feature five concerts in Japan, including a performance in Hiroshima honoring the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The cancellation is the result of government warnings about the virus outbreak and major airlines deciding not to fly to China, according to NSO Executive Director Gary Ginstling.

“Our top priority is the health and well-being of our musicians and artists,” Ginstling said. “Looking at the facts in front of us, in some ways the decision was made for us. The combination of warnings from the State Department and the CDC, and our flights were canceled; there was no way to get there and no way to get home.”

The coronavirus outbreak continues to grow in China, where the government has reported more than 20,000 confirmed cases. There are 146 confirmed cases in 23 other countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Two dancers for the National Ballet of China who were to star in the Richmond Ballet’s production of “Swan Lake” have been replaced after they were unable to travel for next weekend’s performances.

Last week, the Boston Symphony Orchestra canceled its entire Asian tour out of concern for its musicians’ health. The four-city trip, from Feb. 6-16, was supposed to include stops in Seoul, Taipei, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Ginstling said the NSO sees no risk in traveling to Japan for the first, and longest, part of the tour. “We have five concerts in Japan,” he said. “We’ll be there for eight or nine days. Based on the information we have, we feel confident there’s no increased risk there.”

The NSO tour was expected to end with two concerts in Beijing and one in Shanghai. Instead, it will begin March 6 in Fukui, stop in Sakai and Hiroshima and conclude with two concerts in Tokyo on March 10 and 11.