German Maestro Under Arrest
Volker Hartung, conductor of the New Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra (Junge Philharmonie Köln) has been arrested on suspicion of worker exploitation and tax evasion.
Hartung is reported to have been arrested following a concert in Strasbourg for the alleged illegal employment of largely eastern-european musicians without the necessary work permits or tax payments.
It is not the first time that 49-year-old Maestro Hartung has brushed with French law. Only last October he was arrested on similar charges, where he had organised a concert tour in France and employed musicians of mainly Russian and Bulgarian origin without work permits, and furthermore at a rate of pay far below the French norm.
In his defence, Hartung has said only that the members of his orchestra were freelance musicians, and not bound by contract to the orchestra, which internal sources reveal to be only partially true. With this explanation, Hartung passes blame onto the members of his orchestra, who will almost certainly not be paid for the concerts which will have to be cancelled, and if they truly had no contracts, it is uncertain that they will receive any payment at all for concerts already given.
Hartung has been released on bail on payment of a sum which has not been disclosed, but is officially banned from giving concerts in France until further notice.