Musician Glen Inanga held at Miami airport

A local musician was held in a room
in Miami airport for four hours, missing two
flights to Europe last week.

Concert pianist Glen Inanga was on
his way to Vienna
to perform a concert along with Jennifer Micallef at the prestigious
Musikverein with the Vienna ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra when he was pulled
aside by Immigration officials.

United
States immigration noted that Mr
Inanga had a British passport but was born in Nigeria, which seemed to interest
them.

“They said they would like to ask a
few questions and they took me aside to a room where they said they would see
me when they could.”

Hours passed

Four and a half hours passed with
no movement before the world-renowned pianist was quizzed about where he was
headed, what he did in Cayman why he was travelling and what he did for a
living.

“They were particularly interested
to find out I was a concert pianist and how someone from Nigeria would get involved with
that sort of thing. They then apologised and said they were sorry I missed my
flight and that they were trying to move the process quickly and get me on the
last flight.

“I was obviously not what they were
looking for but when they smell a rat they have to check it out.”

Flights closed

By the time Mr Inanga had been
processed by Immigration all flights were closed and he had to pay for his own
hotel room before travelling the next day on a convoluted path to Vienna via
Paris and Dallas, Texas.

However, he had become separated from
his baggage, adding another tricky layer to an already-difficult journey.

“I half-expected that to happen,
staked my claim and went straight to rehearsal. Come Thursday morning my
luggage still had not turned up so I went off to buy new stuff.”

Luggage problems

Mr Inanga’s baggage finally landed
in Vienna on
Friday, the day before the concert took place.

“By this time I was so distracted
by how wonderful the Musikverein is I wasn’t worried about luggage. The concert
was a phenomenal experience and was packed to capacity. It was literally standing
room only.

“The experience just being in the
place where all these great musicians in the tradition of classical music had
played was wonderful and the level of playing and understanding was wonderful.
The audience really know their stuff,” he said.

 The concert featured selections from Holst’s
The Planets plus a very difficult Czech piece by Bohuslav Martinu, Concerto for
Two Pianos and Orchestra and was recorded for subsequent broadcast on Austrian
radio early next year.

Friends and family of Inanga and
Micaellef came from Malta,
Frankfurt and Holland
to watch the duo in action, which Mr Inanga called an ‘amazing experience.’

Return journey

When the time came to embark on the
return journey to Cayman – luggage in hand – Mr Inanga said he felt
trepidation.

“I was braced to be held up again
but when I got to Miami
one of the immigration officers recognised me as he had interviewed me the
previous week. He caught my eye and said he was going to make sure I didn’t miss
my flight.

“I got escorted down to my bags,
past immigration, the VIP treatment to make sure I would get my Cayman Airways
flight.

“It made up for all the bad things
that had happened to me before and the guy asked me all about how the concert
had went. They apologised again for the ordeal I had on the way out – I
obviously fit the profile of their new rules – but that’s life I guess.”

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