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Outrage: cellist is thrown off train after refusing to buy ticket for her instrument

This has just come in from a correspondent in Holland:

An 18 year old cellist Dana de Vries from Franeker, was told yesterday to leave the train because she didn’t have a ticket for her instrument.
This happened in a train to Groningen. Normally it is no problem to take your cello into public transport, and Dana never had this before. She was on her way to Paris. She was told that her cello took up a seat and therefore she had to buy a ticket.
When she refused, she was ordered to leave the train.
Here’s a Dutch link.
Update: There has been a happy ending. Dutch Rail have given Dana a first class ticket for the rest of her journey. Listen here (in Dutch)
And this is Dana playing her cello.

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  1. Nicolas Altstaedt says:

    Same with busses in the UK..had to buy two tickets in an empty Bus from Heathrow to Oxford..

  2. Oded Zehavi says:

    There should be an organised protest by cellist all over the world. For a starter they should refuse to play for any employee of an airline or the rail system, than some of the really big names like yo yo ma should start a negative campaign against selected airlines or transportation companies i can see a PBC ad saying: Hello I am Yo Yo Ma and I never fly xxxxxxxxxxxx airlines….that can actually make the diferance

  3. National Express wouldn’t even let me buy a ticket for the cello a few years ago- they wouldn’t let it on the bus in any way at any price. Scum.

  4. cidero sognatore says:

    the original press release , which you refer to, does NOT state that she REFUSED to buy a ticket…
    it simply states she had no ticket for her cello (and yes, it is madness to have to buy one for your instrument) and was therefore told to leave the train… and to head the article with the word ‘outrage’….. somewhat overdone Mr. Lebrecht.

    • I am not fluent in Dutch, I was relying on a reader’s helpful translation. She refused to buy a ticket when asked to do so by the conductor on the train. I stand by the word outrage. Musicians are treated appallingly on public transport. It is time we demanded better protection.

      • cidero sognatore says:

        obviously the translation was not helpful…
        and I seriously wonder what country you are referring to when saying that musicians are treated appallingly on public transport…

      • Marioara Trifan says:

        I’m with you, Mr. Lebrecht. The more vehemently we speak out when these outrages (yes) happen, the better. Fortunately Dutch Rail amended the situation correctly and promptly, which is more than can be said for certain airlines!

  5. Sam Adler says:

    Most trains and other public transport have size limits for carry-on baggage. I don’t think they are targeting musicians in particular. She shouldve taken up the flute if she didn’t want to deal with the cost of transporting her instrument. If normally it is no problem to take instrument on public transport, then she’s been lucky, and should happily pay on the apparently rare occasion when the seat is needed for a paying customer.

    • Susan Bradley says:

      I must take issue with your absurd comment ” She shouldve taken up the flute if she didn’t want to deal with the cost of transporting her instrument.”.
      No one takes up an instrument thinking of how much it will cost to transport. If they did, orchestras would consist of flutes, clarinets and violins. Students take up a musical instrument because they are entranced by its sound, be it a violin, flute or in my case and my students’ case, the tuba.
      Those of us who play large instruments would appreciate support and help rather than your contemptuous ‘reductio ad pecuniam’ argument. Without us, your orchestras will sound rather thin…

  6. I must admit I am scratching my head over this one. I never came across any problems transporting a cello on public transportation other than dumb smart-aleck remarks, which I usually could deliver some appropriate repartee to. If all the seats on a local bus were full and an elderly person showed up, I would naturally get up and stand with my cello so that person could sit down. Common courtesy.

    In an European intercity train there is usually enough space to store a cello on the overhead luggage storage rack, or these days there is a luggage storage area. The latter, admittedly, is not the best place to put a $8 million Stradivarius cello unless there’s a seat vacant within sight of the cello.

    But then, in my cello playing days, getting a cello on board a plane didn’t require an extra ticket either, and frankly, if there wasn’t room, I could go with the baggage loader and watch him put the cello in the luggage compartment and pick it up from there or have it delivered back to me at the plane exit. I never ended up with an oversized matchbox. I just always packed all my socks and underwear around the cello to keep it warm, which worked just fine and left more room in my suitcase.

    Of course, I didn’t have a $8 million Stradivarius cello either. Had that been the case, I might not have been such a cheapskate and would perhaps have preferred to buy a ticket for the thing so I could cradle it throughout the flight (at least cellos, when left in their case, do not produce irritatingly loud howling as some other fellow passengers in diapers do).

    Travel has indeed become a hassle for everyone since Pan Am and TWA went bust.

    Now, before you start thinking that I must be at least 80 years old to have experienced that, I will retort that I began playing at an extremely early age. :P

  7. Maestro Flash Montoya says:

    I’m sorry Mr. Lebrecht, however I cannot share your outrage. I’m a cellist and a commuter in Germany. It’s common knowledge that humans have priority for seats, not baggage. I don’t think the whole story has been reported: I’m sure she was given the option to stand. As for being thrown off, she must have been uncooperative for the conductor to threaten her with this action.

  8. The spokeswoman of the Dutch Railways said in the interview that it was a mistake of the conductress, normally a cello is and should be treated like any other hand luggage… that’s why they later offered her a free first class ticket, as an apology.
    Many trains in Holland are extremely full but passengers are not to blame for that!
    By the way, on TGV trains in Europe taking bicycles is only free when you put them dismantled in a bike bag (which must be no bigger than 120x90cm). For fully assembled bicycles you pay around £10.
    I wonder what will happen with bass players transporting their instruments who come across similar conductors (I mean *train* conductors)? Maybe they are summoned to dismantle their instruments and put them in such a bag too?

  9. That’s cellist.

  10. I smell a publicity rat.

    Is she looking for an IMG contract perhaps?

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