Jun 04, 2014

By Scott Walker

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Another orchestra has run afoul of the new US ban on African ivory.

Seven musicians from the Budapest Festival Orchestra had their bows confiscated by customs officials just before a concert at Lincoln Centre.

That, despite the Obama administration relaxing its regulations on the importation of ivory to make it easier for musicians to travel.

The ban was brought in to reduce the killing of African elephants by poachers for their ivory.

The orchestra had the paperwork to allow the bows into the country. But that didn’t stop over-zealous customs officials from blocking their entry. And there seemed to be no consistency in the rules’ application. One musician had two identical bows …. one was allowed in, the other was seized.

It’s the latest in a series of incidents where musicians have been caught in a trap because their antique instruments may contain ivory. Musician’s organizations are working to sort out the rules so that musicians can gain access to the lucrative US market without worrying they won’t have anything to play when they get there.

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