'Missing' Nepalese choir turns up – after three days

Tom Moseley
Saturday 30 April 2011 00:00
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A Nepalese male voice choir, whose disappearance left organisers of a Cornish music festival scratching their heads and sparked a Home Office investigation, was last night finally set to honour its commitment to sing.

The directors of The Cornwall International Male Voice Choir Festival were dismayed when the 10-strong choir failed to meet a minibus they had sent to Heathrow on Tuesday morning, raising concerns that they had "absconded".

It was believed the men could have breached their visas by failing to perform at their first booking, on Thursday night, and the Home Office was informed.

But three days and three missed concerts later, organisers received a mysterious phone call saying the choir, known as Nepalaya Kala Manch, was on its way. Festival organiser David Peters said that he was still in the dark as to where the choir had spent the past three days, but welcomed the blaze of publicity generated by their vanishing act.

"I will advise anyone looking to publicise a festival to lose a Nepalese choir," he said.

"The call we had to say that they are still alive came from darkest London. There are high hopes that they will appear. We have had no explanation – how could they just disappear? We had our man in Heathrow looking everywhere, and the immigration authorities were interested. Today they decided to come out of the cupboard."

Yesterday, friends of the choir in Nepal reportedly said that they had "missed their bus" and were set to arrive in Cornwall.

Ishor Rijal, a journalist working for the Nepali Samaj, a Nepali community news website, said: "The information that I have from the organisation is that they missed the bus and managed to reach the venue the next day, or something like that. It might have been to do with the language problem. It is a bit of a mystery."

It also emerged that the group was in the UK on valid entertainment visas, which would allow them to stay in the country for up to six months regardless of their failure to show up for their concerts.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "All of the group entered the UK lawfully at Heathrow on valid visas."

The Nepalese male voice choir could now make its long-awaited debut at Wesley Church in Liskeard, south east Cornwall, tonight.

"Wouldn't it be dreadful if they turned up and they were all out of tune?" David Peters commented.

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