Have Cello, Will Travel

The news that the U.K.’s Department of Transport is likely to lift the restrictions on hand luggage carried by air passengers has come just in time to stave off a protest by the Musicians’ Union.

Ever since the August 10-11 security scare at U.K. airports, musicians have been prevented from carrying instruments onto planes as a way of reducing the volume of baggage going through cabin security checks.

This has created a howl of protest from musicians who fear their irreplaceable instruments will be smashed by a careless baggage handler or wrecked by freezing temperatures in the hold.

Rather than take the risk, they’ve been canceling concerts or enduring exhausting train journeys.

Virtuoso cellist Ralph Kirshbaum took more than a day to transport his £2.5 million cello from London to Milan, according to The Guardian, a journey that would normally have taken three hours by air.

Kirshbaum told the paper he flies between 50 and 80 times in a typical year. He buys a ticket for his cello so it can stay by his side.

Two days earlier, Mark Elder, guest conductor at the Last Night of the Proms, joined the chorus of protest and told the audience that next year’s event could be restricted to a “concerto for laptop and orchestra.”

The security measures forced the highly regarded New York-based Orchestra of St. Luke’s to cancel debut appearances at the Proms and the Edinburgh Festival.

– John Gammon