In Saturday’s (7/11) Times (London), Richard Morrison writes, “For the first time in living memory the Proms season (which opens next Friday) is not graced by a single American orchestra. The loss is far more than just musical. … They were also opportunities for British connoisseurs to measure those mighty beasts not just against each other, or British orchestras, or Vienna and Berlin, but against past recordings of themselves. … Well, the recession has clobbered all that. Touring an American orchestra in Europe was always dauntingly expensive. … The rising cost of air freight and the sudden scarcity of corporate sponsors (at least $3 million is needed to tour a US orchestra in Europe) have made matters worse. So have tighter security requirements, which mean that vital hours are forfeited in tight schedules while expensive musicians hang around airport check-ins. And now there’s a big question mark over visas. British orchestras touring the US have to go through extraordinarily time-consuming vetting procedures; and the British immigration authorities are imposing far more rigorous tests on foreign performers wanting to come here.”

Posted July 13, 2009