Violinist is dropped from BBC Proms over delayed UK visa

Violinist is dropped from BBC Proms over delayed UK visa


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2016

The violinist Anna Markova, who is based in Bremen, Germany, has addressed the following cri de coeur to the UK Government:

I spent one month of my life and a lot of money to gather all the necessary – absolutely stupid! – papers in the right time, I had to go the other town to be controlled in your visa centre as if I were a criminal! I had to give full information about me, such information like my income since the last 6 months, and not only the income, but also my bank statements for the 6 months – all that only to play ONE concert and to stay only 2,5 days in your “Great” country!

And now all this is for nought, because the orchestra cannot wait any longer, they have to invite another violinist, because the concert is in 3 days and I don’t have the answer about my visa till now, and I will not get it in time, although I paid for the visa. And as the result of all the trouble which has been caused me by the embassy of “Great” Britain, I will not be able to play in the concert on 22.07 in BBC Proms.Thank you, “Great” Britain!!!

The concert is by Le Cercle de l’Harmonie, conducted by Jérémie Rhorer. Anna, 30, was a member of the ensemble.

Many non-EU musicians complain of similar obstacles to entering the UK.

After Brexit, it will get much worse.

anna markova



  • James says:

    Law is law, darling, especially in these times of war against Europe. Musicians are not different from others persons, especially if you think that everyone is equal. LOL

    • Mike Thompson says:

      War against Europe?? What are you on? This whole incident is utterly disgraceful – the UK government and its pettifogging little bureaucrats should be ashamed!

  • Steve says:

    What is her citizenship? Isn’t she Russian?

  • Anon says:

    As far as I can see, Anna Markova is not an EU citizen. Her VISA process may be fraught with obstacles (I agree, it should be simpler. Then again, so should the VISA process for someone from the UK wanting to visit Russia or Kazakhstan, where I think she was born, for work); but there is no reason to think that this is likely to get worse post-Brexit.
    Generally, mainstream sensible Western democracies work together in a co-operative fashion, and there’s no reason to think that this won’t happen when the UK leaves the EU.

  • Brian Blackwell says:

    Well, let’s face it, she’s not English is she? Not even Scottish or Irish. Best to keep her out of our great country, which we are in the process of reclaiming after it was somehow lost. It would be even better if we could build a big wall to keep out people like this. Bloody foreigners, think they can play the fiddle better than we can!

    • Furzwängler says:

      Sorry, but that’s just pathetic.

      • Stuck on Zero says:

        Do you think that you might just have missed the invisible “sarcasm” tag ?

        • Furzwängler says:

          “Sarcasm if the lowest from of wit” (Oscar Wilde)

          But anyway, it just sounds angry rather than sarcastic.

          • Ray Richardson says:

            People saying that arent witty enough to be sarcastic!

          • Una says:

            Very hard to sarcasm with the written word where you 1) don’t know the person, 2) can’t hear the voice, and 3) can’t see their eyes and face. Otherwise it sounds angry and bigoted.

    • NYMike says:

      Channeling Trump, are you?

    • Nelson Armitano says:

      Your country lost!? … I seem to remember seeing it in the same place last time I checked. I think you people are the lost lot, with so much nationalistic BS and believing in all that stupid anti-Europe deceptive rethoric you so blindly follow.

    • Una says:

      Disgraceful bigoted comment. Says more about YOU than anyone else. We are not dealing with sacks of potatoes but a decent and talented human being.

  • Stuck on Zero says:

    Sorry luv — GB is already crowded out with EU migrants from bankrupt southern and eastern member states. But Mr Murkle will maintain your welcome in Germany. If not – just throw your passport away, paint your face brown and claim political asylum.

    • jaypee says:

      I’d have a few comments for your comments but I would likely be censored…
      Let me stick to one word only: moron.

  • May says:

    What a petulant rant from a unexceptional artist. While it is lamentable that her papers were not processed in time, she displays unwarranted sense of entitlement, instead of taking it in stride. Why the Proms invited her in the first place seems to be another question: she belongs in cafes and street corners and not in Royal Albert Hall.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Oh, ff’s sake, ‘Mrs May’. This unfortunate young woman had just been subjected to a great disappointment by the well-known inefficiencies of the department that the real Mrs May used to command. She was, in other words, mistreated by UK bureaucracy. Show some human sympathy.

    • MWnyc says:

      The Proms didn’t invite her as such; they invited an EU-based orchestra in which she happens to be a player.

      This is indeed unfortunate, but I would guess that she’s not the only non-EU citizen who plays in that orchestra; I wonder if others got the necessary visas in time.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      It’s not “unwarranted entitlement” to expect that a government office will process an application in a timely fashion when the proper papers have been submitted.

      That is what they are paid to do.

      If they had a reason to reject her application, that would be part of their job, but to not do the job at all is harder to explain.

  • esfir ross says:

    Too many Belorussian enter UK and forget to live. Unmarried person will be under suspicion.
    Get husband , children-will travel.

  • KbS says:

    I am astonished by these comments! Should no foreign musicians play in an internationally renowned concert series such as the proms? She’s not applying to live in the UK but to come for three days to play one concert! She has gone through the correct channels, whose inefficiency has caused her to lose her income. It’s not that she’s been denied a visa, but is simply a victim of British bureaucracy.

  • Alan Timms says:

    ‘Woman fails to understand and complete the complex paper trail in time to do her job’.

    While this is a disappointment to her, completing the necessary paper work in good time for such a prestigious performance is her (and possibly her managers) responsibility. The news story here is that SHE failed to get her documentation completed in time, not that the UK failed to issue the visa ( a process is well known to be complicated and time consuming). Perhaps in the future she will be as quick to submit her papers as she is to complain.

  • Petunia says:

    She’s upset because it was much easier to get the residence permit for Germany, all you need is to have a pulse.

  • Tom says:

    If she is based in Berlin she has at least a residence card for Germany and thus the EU. EU inhabitants do *not* need a visa to go to the UK. A work permit isn’t necessary anyway since she stays only 2,5 days.

    I don’t know what she’s playing at, but something is fishy…

    • Olga says:

      She is based in Bremen and SURELY need a UK visa as all the foreigners living in EU with the resident permit need a British visa, except you are from the Commonwealth or USA or some rich countries. Have a look at the list. The resident permit for Germany gives you the free travel all over EU and Switzerland, but doesn’t allow you to go to UK.

    • Scott Fields says:

      As an American musician who has legal residence in Germany, I can assure you that a visa is required to perform in the UK. Other EU countries could require visas as well, but don’t. Or at least, I haven’t encountered others that do.

      • Tom says:

        That’s absolutely new to me. I work a lot with singers and even US singers don’t need a visa if they stay less than 90 days. Russians do but only a tourist visa which is easy to get.
        Many Russian and US singers/musicians take up residency with a permanent resident card just to avoid having to get visa every time they go to another country.

        • Scott Fields says:

          American musicians who live in the EU can work in the UK without a visa? Really? Since when? And some become permanent residents so they can play an occasional concert? You’re kidding, right?

          • Tom says:

            Well as I said it is a surprise to me. What I wrote above is about the EU and apparently, even though they were and are still part of the EU, the UK must have different rules.
            I was also speaking about singers. They usually stay about 2 months for each contract.

          • Scott Fields says:

            Even before the EU, the UK was stricter about work visas than Western European countries. For non-EU foreigners a residence permit allows them to live and work only in the country from which the visa was issued. For short-term musical engagements, most EU countries look the other way. The U.K. doesn’t.

  • MacroV says:

    If she’s a member of the ensemble, then it would seem to have been their responsibility to get appropriate visas for its members. There is a fair argument to make about how much paperwork and bureaucracy should be required for performers to play in other countries, but is there any indication that the UK did anything out of the ordinary here?

  • Steve Rudd says:

    To all the Brexiteers who have posted in this thread gloating over this woman’s predicament, could I ask you if you could let me know the date on which the extra £350 million a week will start being paid into the NHS? Thanks.

    • Furzwängler says:

      Why? Are you a Remaniac in need of some urgent medication?

      This is a music blog, in case you hadn’t noticed.

      • Max Grimm says:

        This isn’t just any old music blog, this is SlippedDisc, where threads – whether discussing syncopation or violin varnishing – always have the utmost potential to end in a socio- and religiopolitical pissing contest.

        • Furzwängler says:

          Indeed. It’s nothing short of miraculous that the name of a certain Adolf hasn’t been invoked yet.

  • Edgar says:

    The island becomes more peculiar by the day. Safer to remain on the continent, it seems…;-)

  • Peter Roos says:

    I cannot believe some of the comments above – are you guys for real?! It shouldn’t be this difficult to get a visa if she is already a legal resident of one EU member state. Top orchestras all over the world are made up of musicians from all over the world, that’s how it works if you want to attract the best talent. What’s next, are you going to deny a visa the next time Yo Yo Ma or Hillary Hahn are coming to London for a concert?

    • Tom says:

      It isn’t difficult to get a visa as a musician. Especially if you have the contract and/or some promotional material to present.
      Which makes me think she simply didn’t file all documents necessary or did it too late.

  • Standingstones says:

    I get it. You Brits were just trying to keep a terrorist out of the country. Jolly Good!

    • someone says:

      No, usually terrorists are much smarter than the immigration officers.
      As a result of it, so many innocent people have been rejected, but terrorists always find a way to come.

      I understand her rage and I also understand why some people are very unhappy about her reaction to the incident.
      But we all should understand that the point or problem is the system which is not very effective.

      Believe me, there are sooooo many people in the UK who have been welcome with forged documents but how many people have been rejected with genuine ones with no interest in staying illegally?

      Anyway, the reality is that she’s not Sokolov, so not everyone will regret or have a sympathy for her.

      I hope she soon finds something that makes all the rage and insults and difficulties vanish.

      • Standingstones says:

        Let’s not blame the immigration officers. It goes much higher than that. The UK is an open sieve that let’s practically anyone into the country. Except of course, keeping out the violinist in question.

        • someone says:

          Of course, it partially goes higher than that, but I blame immigration officers, too.
          Whatever reasons they have, it often happens that they make too silly mistakes and faults.
          I’m not just talking about only this case.
          I don’t think I should link all the articles showing those cases.
          However, I also understand that it’s not only the UK’s problem.

  • Maria says:

    She is gutted, I get it. I would be too. Playing at the proms is a wonderful experience and she’s just missed her chance. I get it. I would be disappointed too.
    But why publish an offensive message like that in public view? What good will come of that? There is a process for visa applications and that’s that. It takes a certain amount of time and nothing changes because you’re about to play at the proms. I find the ‘as if I were a criminal’ comment most naive too. ‘oh she plays the violin, she must be alright then, let her in’. What world does she live in?
    And then there’s the comment about having paid for this visa but not getting it. Money alone does not get things done in this part of the world. Maybe she should have applied earlier.
    I won’t even comment on the repetition of ‘great’ country. If she was trying to get some UK official to pity her through this post and fast track her application, it ain’t happening now…
    It’s a shame for her. I wouldn’t like to have written this for everyone to see.

    • Keith Reader says:

      This message is far less ‘offensive’ than the idiotic bureaucratic delay to which she’s been subjected.

  • hundreds of renowned classical musicians(whose citizenships require UK visas)
    enter/exit the UK without any issues every single month.

    there are always two sides to every story.