Chinese New Year and passport problems thwart Sidmouth concert

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 February 2018

Anna Tsybuleva, who won the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2015, will be playing in Sidmouth Parish Church. Image from

Anna Tsybuleva, who won the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2015, will be playing in Sidmouth Parish Church. Image from


Saturday last should have seen Russian pianist Anna Tsybuleva, winner of the 2015 Leeds International Piano Competition, give a Chopin and Tchaikovsky recital in Sidmouth Parish Church as part of the Sidmouth Music concert series, writes Stephen Huyshe-Shires.

Things did not happen that way, however, as Anna remained firmly stuck in Moscow without her passport.

Although she had obtained her UK entry visa in good time for the Sidmouth recital and then a short tour, including playing in Wells and in London, she also had to apply for a visa for China for a forthcoming trip there.

She submitted her passport, containing its UK visa, to the Chinese Embassy in Moscow on a fast track application in order to avoid any delay with the Chinese New Year Celebrations.

She had checked with the embassy and been given an assurance that the passport would be ready to collect.

However, on turning up at the embassy, she was told that the passport could not be released before the New Year celebrations and would not be ready for her until later in the month.

When Stephen Huyshe-Shires, chairman of Sidmouth Concert Society which promoted the event, heard the news through Anna’s London agent, he set about trying, in vain, to get through to the UK Visa and Immigration service, the Chinese Embassy and the Russian Embassy in London in the hope of getting some emergency travel documentation issued.

Stephen said: “I was confronted with an array of automated telephone answering systems which would only give me pre-recorded information.

“The UK visa service demands £1.37 a minute over and above the call charge to speak to a civil servant, which I find preposterous.

“I did manage to speak to someone at the Russian Embassy but they said they could not interfere in what was the process of a foreign country.”

A distraught Anna said: “I would love to be playing in Sidmouth right now.”

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