An American cellist was questioned by UK Border Agency officials
at Heathrow airport for eight hours before being sent back on a
plane to Chicago, according to a report in the Guardian.
Kristin Ostling, a member of the Carpe Diem Quartet, which is
resident at Ohio Wesleyan University, had been invited to perform
at a conference at the University of Leeds. The quartet was due to
give two recitals, featuring several European premieres and two
quartets by Taneyev, and was going to do so for no fee and no
The Border Agency officials apparently deemed that the performances counted as work, and so Ostling was denied entry on her visa. However, according to the Guardian report, the other three members of the quartet were allowed through without any problem, suggesting that it was merely the size of her instrument that doomed Ostling.
When the head of the School of Music at the university challenged the Heathrow officials, he was apparently told that before hiring the Ohio-based quartet, he should have first found out if any UK or EU-based ensemble would also have been prepared to play the same programmes for free.