Exclusive: Four UK singers are shut out by US visa crash

Exclusive: Four UK singers are shut out by US visa crash


norman lebrecht

June 24, 2015

Earlier this week, we reported the the Van Cliburn competition had lost a juror because the US authorities were unable to issue visas due to a computer crash.

Now, our colleague Lawrence Johnson learns that four British singers have had to pull out of Chicago’s  Grant Park Music Festival for exactly the same reason.

The UK4 – David James, Steven Harrold, Mark Dobell and Eamonn Dougan – had been due to perform James MacMillan’s Quickening this weekend. Grant Park is scrambling up replacements. Read Larry’s report here.

The visa crash won’t be fixed for next week, at the earliest.




  • Mark Pemberton says:

    Apparently the visa system is back up and running.

  • Nick says:

    Obtaining visas is one of the necessary evils of all artists’ lives. Yet engagements like that for Chicago are surely contracted many months ahead. I therefore find it odd that the artists and their agents seemed to think it was perfectly OK to leave their visa applications to virtually the last minute! Computer and other technical glitches affecting our professional lives are not all that rare!

    • Alexandra Ivanoff says:

      This may not have been a last-minute visa app situation. In the U.S., artist visas can take up to 9 months for processing, depending on the location of the government office. Some are notoriously slow and unresponsive to followups. Also, the contracts could have been signed a little too close to comfort to process the visa. There is a fast-track option, which involves a substantial fee, that the agent or presenter may not have used, since in this case it would have been quadrupled.

      It is another example, however, of a government that, at that particular level, has little regard and/or little working knowledge of the needs of legitimate arts organizations. According to the Feds, everyone coming from somewhere else is a terrorist and foreign “artists” (read: there’s a bomb in every instrument case) have to file a lot of paperwork to prove their not.