US Customs Smashes Virtuoso Flutist’s 11 ‘Agricultural Product’ Handmade Instruments
If you’ve been following arts news to any extent, you are likely aware that the big airlines, customs officials, and the TSA have been under fire for the mishandling of — and accidental damage to — instruments belonging to pop and classical musicians. But this incident is just breathtakingly thuggish:
Boujemaa Razgui, a flute virtuoso who lives in New York and works with many US ensembles, was returning to base over the holiday when Customs officials at Kennedy Airport asked to see his instruments.
Bourjemaa carries a variety of flutes of varying ethnicity, each made by himself over years for specific types of ancient and modern performance. He is a regular guest with the diverse and enterprising Boston Camerata.
At JFK, the officials removed and smashed each and every one of his instruments. No reason was given.
We have been unable to reach the distressed Boujemaa but a swell of outrage is rising among his musician friends. One ensemble director tells us: ‘I can’t think of an uglier, stupider thing for the U.S. government to do than to deprive this man of the tools of his art and a big piece of his livelihood.’
‘I told them I had these instruments for many years and flew with them in and out,’ he said. ‘There were 11 instruments in all. They told me they were agricultural products and they had to be destroyed. There was nothing I could do. The ney flute can be made with bamboo. Is that agricultural?’