A February concert by the Beijing Chinese Orchestra at Benaroya Hall has been canceled after the U.S. rejected 22 musicians’ visa applications.
The Beijing Chinese Orchestra had to cancel a Feb. 16 concert at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle after 22 of its musicians’ visa applications were rejected by the U.S. government on Jan. 20. Local arts administrators say these kinds of rebuffs to international artists coming to Seattle aren’t unheard of — but they’re unusual.
“We bring in artists from China all the time without any visa problems,” said Seattle Symphony spokesperson Rosalie Contreras. “Visa problems are a variable that we face in our business, but it’s very infrequent.”
Neither the U.S. embassy in Beijing nor the Chinese consulate in San Francisco replied to requests for comment about why the musicians’ visas were rejected.
After learning about the rejection of the visas, Bellingham composer Austin Huang — artistic director of the Pacific Northwest Cultural Exchange Council — wrote Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue. Smith’s office replied in an email that a consular official had ruled that the musicians’ “stated purpose of travel” didn’t match the class of visas they’d applied for.
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But, the email stated, “the 22 members of the Beijing Chinese Orchestra may reapply at any time.”