French Authorities Crack Down on Cheap Orchestras

Classic Arts News   French Authorities Crack Down on Cheap Orchestras
 
French police shut down tours of two visiting orchestras last month, charging their organizers with illegally importing low-paid musicians from Eastern Europe, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In one case, the American-born conductor David Miller and his Bulgarian ensemble were confronted backstage after a concert performance of Don Giovanni. Three members of the group were questioned and released; the tour's organizer was arrested and is to be put on trial.

Two weeks later, German conductor Volker Hartung was arrested on the stage during a performance of the Cologne New Philharmonic. He was eventually released, but was banned from performing in France.

Miller told the Journal that the groups were providing music to small towns that would otherwise not be able to afford it. "Usually we're the only live opera of the season," he said. "They're thrilled to have us come."

Authorities and union leaders say that Hartung and Miller are taking away jobs from French musicians and exploiting their Eastern European counterparts. Miller rejected that argument, saying that his musicians "need the work, they don't hold out for high fees, and they play well."


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