Latest: New York Customs hold orchestra to ransom
June 3, 2014 by norman lebrecht
We reported earlier that six players in the Budapest Festival Orchestra had their bows confiscated on arrival, on suspicion that they might contain ivory. This was an understatement. We are now informed it was seven players.
The bows were not returned and the players had to ring around friends and acquaintances to borrow bows for rehearsal and their first concert. Lincoln Center were helpful in providing bows for those who could not find them.
The orchestra flew into Newark. The instruments and bows were sent as cargo to JFK. Every single instrument and bow had a certificate (or passport) from Hungary. These were dismissed by Customs, who seized seven bows.
They are now demanding a $500 release fee.
This is, literally, highway robbery. Customs have clearly exceeded their authority, but they are a law unto themselves when musicians pass through, as demonstrated in the tragic case of Boujemaa and his flutes.
Beware of flying to New York with a musical instrument.
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