Concertmaster gets fine eased, but still pays $60,000

Concertmaster gets fine eased, but still pays $60,000


norman lebrecht

August 04, 2015

Three years ago Yosuke Kawasaki, concertmaster of the National Arts Center orchestra in Ottawa, had his violin and bows seized by Customs on entering Canada. Later, he was ordered to pay a C$120,000 fine to release them.

After fighting the case through the courts he has now been told to pay C$59,650, the amount he would have shelled out at the border had he originally declared the instruments at Customs. Despite the latest remission, it would seem that he has been treated harshly nonetheless.

Report here.

Pinchas Zukerman and NACO concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki exchange a handshake. (Fred Cattroll photo)



  • V.Lind says:

    National Arts CENTRE. It is Canada, not the US.

    Brutal — but he must have been some sort of idiot not to have declared them when he first accepted the position in Ottawa. He was not inexperienced — by the time he was appointed he had had years of international travelling with his instruments.

    Still, it is staggering the number of petty bureaucrats and functionaries at borders and airports that do not seem to “get” that musicians constantly travel with instruments that belong to them (or are legitimately leased or lent to them) and few if any are in the business of smuggling treasures. The fine structure seems excessive for an error in paperwork.

    The difficulties put in the way of travelling musicians seems to imply that such flunkeys think they are up to no good. Comes of listening to muzak and rap all day, I suppose.

  • John Sullivan says:

    I’m trying to wrap my head around this. If he had registered them with the CBSA (whatever that stands for) in 2008, what would have been the result? Would he still have had to pay up? I hope at least he can deduct these costs from his taxable income.

    • M Foster says:

      CBSA means Canadian Border Services Agency.

      If he had registered his instruments when he first arrived in the country, they would probably have been treated as personal property, i.e. exempt from duty. That which is acquired after arrival in Canada is treated as a purchase and taxed accordingly.

      Seems he had really bad advice, or no advice at all. We all need to be lawyers these days.

  • Lost in Space says:

    You have to ask – for what do customs agents get bonuses and promotion?
    PS I had to select 2 pictures of fruit juices prior to pistong this comment.

  • paul peabody says:

    This is absurd and disturbing. I travel all over the world with my violin, does this mean I have to declare my violin and bows everytime I travel ? No, it seems the Canadian government demands this which is good to know. I think they should give him a pass , for goodness sake, he is coming to add to the cultural quality of a Canadian orchestra !