The French police are arresting symphony orchestra musicians from Eastern Europe. Why?
The reason for importing musicians
from the east to play in countries like France is simple: money. "The
tour would’ve been too expensive with French musicians, so there
wouldn’t have been a tour at all," Mr. Miller argues. While a company
like the one conducted by Mr. Miller might charge about €15,000
($20,055) for a show, a French orchestra would probably cost three
times that amount, Mr. Miller reckons–pricing them out of the 300- to
800-seat venues they were playing, typically in towns of less than
100,000 people. "I don’t feel at all that I’m taking work away from a
French musician," Mr. Miller told me. Musicians like the Bulgarians he
was conducting, meanwhile, "need the work, they don’t hold out for very
high fees and they play well." "Artistically," he added, "the tour was
a great success."
Not all the musicians have their papers:
A German conductor, Volker
Hartung, whose Cologne New Philharmonic was also employing some East
European musicians, was arrested as he came out for an encore following
a performance of Ravel’s "Bolero" and Bizet’s "Carmen." After also
being held for two days, Mr. Hartung was released with a warning but,
according to the Guardian newspaper, has been banned from performing in
France "until further notice." This was, according to Gerald Mertens,
director of Deutsche Orchestervereinigung, or the German orchestra
union, the second time Mr. Hartung was arrested in France for
underpaying his musicians and not obtaining proper authorization for
them to perform in France.
After deep reflection and debate, the French musicians’ unions have decided to side with the French police, and not with the Muse. In fact, some of the arrested musicians blame the unions themselves for the crackdown.