University of Rochester Cancels Music School Tour After China Shuns Korean Students


Eastman, University of Rochester’s music school in upstate New York, initially announced they will continue with their China tour, but had to ultimately cancel amid backlash.

The news of the cancellation came after Jamal Rossi, dean of the Eastman School of Music, received backlash for allowing the tour to continue without the three South Korean members of the Eastman Philharmonia.


“Given the particular circumstances of this tour, the best course of action for the Eastman community and the values we share is to wait until the Philharmonia can perform as one,” Rossi said in a statement to NBC News.

The Chinese government did not approve the visas of three members of the group because they are South Koreans, ABC13 WHAM reported on Oct. 25. The Eastman Philharmonia was scheduled for a 12-day tour around eight cities in China starting in December.

“We were suddenly caught right in the middle of this. It was really a challenging decision to make,” Rossi said. “Do we continue the tour without the valued colleagues or do we still go forward?”

The school received the visa denial in late September. Rossi reportedly spoke with faculty staff and the three South Korean affected students, who agreed for the tour to continue as well as the other members of the group.

In the message he forwarded to faculty members, Rossi described the event as a “tremendous ethical dilemma.”

“Canceling would likely have a negative impact on Eastman’s reputation within China, and potentially limit other opportunities to recruit, perform, and tour for our faculty and other ensembles,” he said.

The visa denial came as part of China’s ban on South Korean entertainers that took effect in 2016.

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