Friday, April 11, 2008

Last time it was fiddle cases, this time it is visas

See Jessica's blog about the story of Grigory Sokolov, a Russian pianist resident in Italy, who is having to go to Rome to get fingerprinted to get his visa for the UK. He's refusing to do so and has cancelled his concert tour.

We European citizens sometimes don't know how lucky we are, moving all around Europe and much of the rest of the world without great difficulty. Not only does he need a visa, but he also needs a work permit (for playing a few concerts? Do they have to prove that they cannot get a Brit who can do it just as well?). Mind you, the AIDS tests I used to have to do for my long-term Russia visas were also quite demanding, especially since Brits living in the UK did not have to do them (I lived in Lithuania at the time).

The last occasion that kept travelling musicians out of the UK was the farce around the fiddle cases, in another anti-terrorism move. But at least they could fly to Brussels or Paris and hop on a train...

Will this lead to another cultural meltdown, or will they be able again to somehow swing it? Imagine all those visiting orchestras with members of many nationalities.....the LSO's first violinist is a Serb....