Flute Virtuoso’s Instruments Destroyed by US Customs

Boujemaa Razgui playng one of his handmade flutes.

Before you whine about an airline temporarily losing your luggage, think of poor Boujemaa Razgui. The flute virtuoso who performs regularly with The Boston Camerata lost 13 handmade flutes over the holidays when a US Customs official at New York’s JFK Airport mistook the instruments for pieces of bamboo and destroyed them.

Razgui, a Canadian citizen who lives some of the time in Brockton, had flown last week from Morocco to Boston, with stops in Madrid and New York. In New York, he says, an official opened his luggage and found the 13 flutelike instruments — 11 nays and two kawalas. Razgui says he had made all of the instruments using hard-to-find reeds. “They said this is an agriculture item,” said Razgui, who was not present when his bag was opened. “I fly with them in and out all the time and this is the first time there has been a problem. This is my life.”

When his baggage arrived in Boston, the instruments were gone. He was instead given a number to call. “They told me they were destroyed,” he says. “Nobody talked to me. They said I have to write a letter to the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. This is horrible. I don’t know what to do. I’ve never written letters to people.” Our calls to US Customs and Border Protection were not returned Tuesday.

Razgui, who’s been performing with The Boston Camerata since 2002 and is scheduled to play with Camerata Mediterranea in February, says there are perhaps 15 people in the United States who play these sorts of instruments. “And now they’re gone,” he said. “I’m not sure what to do.”

Source: The Boston Globe

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