Breaking: US refuses visas to Russian orchestra

Breaking: US refuses visas to Russian orchestra


norman lebrecht

February 14, 2020

The Siberian State Symphony Orchestra has cancelled its 2020 US tour after being denied visas.

CAMI Music chief Jean-Jacques Cesbron enlisted US Senator Dianne Feinstein in a bid to change the verdict, but to no avail.

No reason was given.

It’s cold war out there.


  • Willymh says:

    Guess they’re not one of Mr Putin’s favoured orchestras …..

  • Karl says:

    Bummer. I was going to see them in Worcester next Friday. Maybe I will go to Siberia – NOT.

    • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

      They were to play in some performances WEINBERG Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes, a work which needs to be widely played. Great shame

  • Simon says:

    A Grossman Special if ever there was one. Surprised they didn’t throw some ringers from Detroit together and put costumes and make up on them, slam them into one bus and send it on the road under the same name.

    • Pacer1 says:

      Do you know anything about them? Have you heard them play? I think not. Just enjoying posting a nasty comment are you? And received a lot of thumbs up too.

  • anon says:

    Americans have been played by the Russians enough.

    (ha ha ha)

  • Dennis says:

    Absurd that no reason is given to justify such abuse of power. What possible legitimate reason could there be for denying an entire orchestra permission to enter the country?

  • Brettermeier says:

    “Breaking: US refuses visas to Russian orchestra”


  • Nathaniel Perez says:

    Great job
    President Trump!!!

  • esfir ross says:

    M.Vainberg “Rhapsody on Moldavian themes” a poor composition, copied G.Enescu rhapsody #1. What a bad choice-US music lovers gain not to hear it.e

  • Chad says:

    Trump is destroying America. This is awful.

  • MacroV says:

    Sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists. While Trump is definitely putting his thumbs on scales in a number of places where he shouldn’t, he is probably not involved in a visa decision for a Russian orchestra (he doesn’t care about music and he likes Putin, remember?).

    If the tour is this soon then the P visa petition was either rejected for some reason by the DHS adjudicator and it never got to the embassy/consulate for issuance, or at the visa interview there was some problem with the petition; consular officers have very little discretion in rejecting these kinds of visa applications if everything comes to them in good order. Individual applicants might get denied if they have some sort of ineligibility or are thought to be intending immigrants, but if the whole orchestra was denied, it’s probably a problem with the petition/application.

    • CW says:

      I do not think it was the entire orchestra being rejected but if enough individuals are unable to come than it becomes moot. Anyone who has not previously been in the US is under much harsher scrutiny under this current administration. The people that used to handle such things have been moved out and replaced with pencil pushers who either don’t understand the business or simply don’t care.

      The attitude appears to be that we have perfectly good musicians here in the US, why do you need to bring others in.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        Thanks, CW

        • MacroV says:

          Sorry, CW is wrong. The first part is correct: if enough individual musicians are deemed ineligible for some reason, that could kill the entire application. But the people who handle these applications are the same as they have always been: consular officers at U.S. embassies or consulates. Usually diplomats on their first or second tour. They have the authority to make the decision within the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and higher-level directives about reviewing visa applications. And their personal interest in music or touring orchestras, or whether there are sufficient qualified musicians in the U.S., is irrelevant.

          I don’t know the reason this orchestra was denied, but foreign orchestras are getting visas all the time these days – even Russian ones – so it suggests that the career diplomat who was reviewing the application (or before him/her the DHS adjudicator who reviewed the P-visa petition) found a problem with at least enough of the applicants that it rendered the tour unfeasible.

  • GCMP says:

    Would be nice to know both sides of this.

  • Andy says:

    CAMI should have asked Moscow Mitch to help out.

  • Brettermeier says:

    I still think that my (as of yet) unpublished screenshot of an ad (“Ukraine residency permit//Full package services provided by professionals”) on this very page is funny.

  • Robin Worth says:

    Saw this article on arriving home just after seeing the Siberian State Ballet, who are touring England and playing provincial towns that are ballet-free . And not charging much for a very good, if second-class, show (you won’t get the Bolshoi for £30) So it seems a shame that their orchestra can’t do something similar in the USA, much of which is devoid of any kind of symphony orchestra and where , I would guess, the distinctive sound of Russian brass is unknown

    • Portia says:

      The official term for that is “culturally deprived.” It is determined by the number of miles it is to a town with a symphony — or some other asset.

  • Theo says:

    At least their instruments will not risk being destoyed by the airlines this way!