For the first time ever, the annual Academy of Music Anniversary Concert & Ball has been scrapped.

Up until early Friday afternoon, ball planners were giving the cold shoulder to the threat of a blizzard - "It's a go in the snow," as the event's Facebook page put it. But in an emergency session, the Academy of Music board voted Friday afternoon to cancel both the concert and ball, for which as many as 1,600 patrons had been expected.

The cancellation is believed to be a first for the event, which has been held every year since the Academy's centenary in 1957, an orchestra spokeswoman said.

A variety of factors were considered in making the choice, but concern for patron safety in getting to and from the event dictated the decision, Philadelphia Orchestra spokeswoman Katherine Blodgett said.

What it means financially for the orchestra and academy were not clear, since the orchestra has already incurred expenses such as printing the annual ball book. Blodgett declined to say whether the cancellation would mean a net loss or gain for the event, whose proceeds benefit Academy of Music restoration projects.

"We won't be talking about it," she said. "We hope people feel they can be generous and donate [the cost of] their tickets."

The Academy of Music 159th Anniversary Concert & Ball was to have included an appearance by comedian Martin Short, with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Last year's event raised $1.6 million before expenses.

The orchestra was working with Garces Group catering to donate food prepared for the cocktail party to Broad Street Ministry, and was still trying to find a charity recipient for the after-concert dinners.

pdobrin@phillynews.com

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