The festival was due to take place from July 1 to August 9. It is presented every two years by the Adelaide Festival Centre, which announced last month that it would close to the public and suspend all performances until at least April 30 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
It later also cancelled the 2020 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, which was set to celebrate its 20th anniversary in June.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of this year’s Adelaide Guitar Festival,” artistic director Slava Grigoryan said today.
“Knowing how much love and time the incredible team at Adelaide Festival Centre has put into this year’s program, and knowing the inspiring artists, from all over the world, that we had lined up for audiences makes this especially heartbreaking.
“But it is also with hope and optimism that we move forward with plans to connect to our audiences virtually and bring the joy of music into their homes during these difficult times.”
Tickets were already on sale for several early-release Guitar Festival shows, including Grammy-nominated American indie folk duo The Milk Carton Kids, and Leaving the Western Shadows, featuring singer-songwriter Lior, classical guitarists Slava and Leonard Grigoryan and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under the baton of composer and conductor Nigel Westlake.
The Festival Centre said people who had already bought tickets would be contacted automatically by BASS and receive a full refund.
The festival program had been significantly extended for 2020 to include a month-long calendar of regional shows and community events, and these have been rescheduled to take place in early 2021 in Clare, the Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln and Port Augusta.
Meanwhile, the Adelaide International Classical Guitar Competition has been moved online, and the Festival Centre is exploring ways to share digital content with audiences. Today it released a clip of Slava and his wife Sharon Grigoryan performing Portuguese composer Mario Laginha’s “Tanto Espaço” (“So Much Space”) to an empty auditorium in the Festival Theatre, with the full performance to be presented on the AFC’s Facebook page tomorrow.
Slava said although the experience was haunting, “we hope that it inspires people to continue listening to music, watching performances online and looking forward to life becoming normal again.”
The public health rules introduced to slow the spread of COVID-19 have forced the closure of all live performance venues in Australia.
The pandemic has also led to the cancellation of festivals world-wide, with the latest – announced overnight – being Edinburgh’s five big festivals: the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe, the Art Festival, the International Book Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The festivals take place in August and together attract around 4.4 million people annually to the Scottish city.
The BBC reports that it will be the first time in more than 70 years that the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival have not taken place.
“The Edinburgh International Festival was born out of adversity – an urgent need to reconnect and rebuild,” said Edinburgh International Festival director Fergus Linehan.
“The current crisis presents all at the festival with a similar sense of urgency. Work begins straight away on a 2021 festival season that will boost both our spirits and our economy.”