an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

UK Immigration ruined this artist’s education

A wonderfully informative review by Will Hodgkinson in this morning’s Times relates how a Canadian student, Rachel Zeffira, was deported from Britain as a result of bureaucratic error when she arrived to take up a scholarship at the Royal College of Music. By the time she returned, the scholarship had expired.

So she went off on another tack and became a highly individual performer in a very different genre. She may be better off, but one has to ask how many other musical lives have been wrecked by a mix-up at Immigration. If you know of more such cases, do tell.

This is what Will wrote:

rachel zeffira

By the time she made it back to England she had lost her scholarship and ended up teaching French at a school in Dagenham — despite not being able to speak French. She later formed the girl group-influenced duo Cat’s Eyes with Faris Badwan, the lead singer of the Horrors, and fell in with the alternative music crowd. But it’s that early dislocation, a sense of not belonging anywhere, that informed her 2012 solo album The Deserters and consequently this concert.

And here’s what Rachel does now:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. UK’s conservatoires NEED their international students! Someone should research the impact of international music students in the UK. A non-EU postgraduate piano student pays over 16.000 GBP for 26-30 60′-90′ one-to-one lessons, some chamber music coaching,some seminars (presentation in performance/career workshops), a couple of masterclasses and the use of the state-of-the-art facilities. They have to cover the tuition fees, and their living expenses with resources brought from their home countries as they are not allowed to work legally. And also, let’s not forget that the international students coming to the country to study are usually the best musicians of their countries, and that helps the level and prestige of the institution. Again: music schools NEED international students and the government should make things easier for them and for the home institutions that need so desperately the resources they bring.

  2. richardcarlisle says:

    Brilliant gal and her piano skill is worth noting as well….extremely indebted tor the intro, Norman… rare to find such massage-like soothing and extraordinary sensitive talent all in one and that plus intriguing production.

    Brava Rachel!

  3. What ever happened to the British Commonwealth? We can’t even enter the UK on a visit except with ‘everyone else’. Ann

  4. Alexander Hall says:

    All very sad, and this is by no means an isolated case. When I look at some of the individuals travelling on the London underground – and these are not tourists or visitors – I often wonder how they got in and others were denied entry.

    • richardcarlisle says:

      But what a fitting finale to her misfortune– now showcasing a true treasure trove of talent, a study in vibrant life-coloring significance… if only all mishaps could end so well.

  5. Duncan McLennan says:

    Members of my Scottish family were killed or wounded fighting for Britain in two World Wars. My father and several of his surviving siblings emigrated to Australia and New Zealand, so I hold a passport from the latter. Thus I queue for hours at Heathrow to enter the UK as a tourist, and many years ago gave up on trying to enter as a post-doctoral researcher (with a UK scholarship) in the face of implacable bureaucratic indifference. I always wonder as the citizens of countries that my forbears fought against waltz through the immigration queues. On a recent visit I arrived on a BA flight from Frankfurt – the plane hadn’t bothered to stock up on immigration cards for Commonwealth citizens and as a result my time in the queue was further extended. Non English-speaking passengers on the same flight were in a different queue which cleared almost instantly.

    The Canadian musician’s case is not unusual.

an ArtsJournal blog