When Music Beats Racism
Last week, the members of the Budapest Festival Orchestra were preparing for a five-city American tour when President Trump's ordered a travel ban that caught them in surprise. One of his members, a cellist with both Hungarian and Iraqi nationalities, would not be allowed to enter the US under the new executive order, that vetoes entry to the US to citizens from seven Muslim majority countries, including Iraq.
Despite the initial shock, the conductor of the Budapest orchestra, Ivan Fischer, decided to move forward and continue with the scheduled tour. The New York Times explains that Mr. Fischer spoke by phone to a State Department official and argued that his cellist was as Hungarian as anyone in the orchestra, and that he did not believe that the executive order applied to dual-passport holders. The next day, after pressure from diplomats in Britain, Canada and elsewhere, Trump administration officials announced that dual citizens would be allowed to enter the country.
Mr. Fischer — who has become known as a voice for tolerance and inclusion as his native Hungary has embraced nationalist and staunchly anti-immigrant policies under the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban — suddenly found himself having to make the case for openness to United States officials, whom he called to protest, reports The New York Times.
“It struck a nerve in me, a very strong feeling that I will never allow anybody to single out a musician in my orchestra and disadvantage that person because of their origin, skin color, religion or any other factor,” Mr. Fischer said in an interview at his hotel on Tuesday.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra will play tomorrow in Michigan and in Boston on Saturday.
As reported in The New York Times.