Visa Requirements Force U.K.'s HallêÑÔ© Orchestra to Withdraw From 2007 U.S. Tour

Classic Arts News   Visa Requirements Force U.K.'s HallêÑÔ© Orchestra to Withdraw From 2007 U.S. Tour
Stringent American visa regulations have forced the Manchester, England-based HallÇÔÔ_êÑÔ© Orchestra to cancel an upcoming U.S. tour, according to a spokesman.

The HallêÑÔ© was scheduled to visit the U.S. next year for two concerts, including one at Lincoln Center. But Andy Ryans, the HallÇԏÔ_'s head of marketing, told PlaybillArts that the orchestra was unable to pay the approximately £ÇԏÔ_45,000 in travel expenses and visa fees that were necessary to secure 100 work permits.

Each member of the orchestra would be required to appear in person at the U.S. embassy in London, 185 miles from Manchester, to be interviewed and fingerprinted for the $100 permit.

Ryans told PlaybillArts, "We'd be more than happy to go to the trouble to obtain the permits. We acknowledge the reasons behind the regulations, but at the moment it's prohibitive and it saddens us. It's exciting for Manchester audiences to contrast the HallÇԏÔ_ with visiting orchestras from different cultures playing in different styles. It's a shame that that opportunity will be limited for American audiences."

The HallÇԏÔ_êÑÔ© is not the only orchestra suffering from stricter visa requirements following the September 11 attacks. Other orchestras that perform in the U.S., such as the Vienna Philharmonic, have also faced similar hassles and expenses, and many smaller groups and soloists have been forced to cancel appearances altogether because of visa delays.

The HallêÑÔ© last toured the U.S. in 1994, playing five concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. They also visited in 1987, when according to Ryan, they had a "wonderful time and received a fantastic reception from American audiences."

John Caulfield, the U.S. embassy's consul general in the U.K., told the London Guardian that statistics showed the new rules had not led to fewer performers going to the U.S., adding, "We cannot go [to Manchester] because the equipment is linked into our computers and [goes] back on high-speed lines to Washington to check the biometric data against databases. We are all paying a cost because of terrorism."

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