War with Iraq keeps campus musician in Israel

What was meant to be a short visit overseas, has become an indefinite stay for Misha Vitenson, violinist of the Amernet String Quartet based at NKU, due to complications caused by the war in Iraq.

Vitenson, a recent graduate of Julliard School of Music, was working at NKU with a practical training visa which is, basically, an extension of his student visa from Julliard, according to Sara Sidebottom, NKU vice president of legal affairs and general counsel. He went to Israel to change his visa status, she said.

“That is not unusual. The thing that makes this unusual is the timing,” Sidebottom said.

BeforeVitenson could apply for the visa change, the U.S. Embassy in Israel closed due to the conflict in Iraq.

According to Dr. Paul Kreider, chair of the music department at NKU, Vitensone is staying with family in Tel Aviv, and it is uncertain, at this point, when he will be able to return to the U.S.

“He can return to the country on another type of visa,” Kreider said, but “we are trying to determine what type of action is best so as not to jeopardize his long term employment at NKU.”

Sidebottom said they are working with an outside immigration lawyer to rectify the situation, however, as long as the Embassy is closed, Vitenson is “stuck there.”

The Amernet String Quartet is an award-winning musical group that began in 1991 while two of the members were students at Julliard. The Quartet gained international recognition in 1992 after winning the Tokyo International Music Competition and has since performed around the world.

The group taught chamber music at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music from 1996 to 2000. In September 2000, the Quartet took up residence at NKU at the head of the Patricia A. Corbett String Program.

The Quartet is scheduled to wrap up their Three Sundays at Three series with a concert on March 30. Kreider said the concert would be cancelled if Vitenson were not able to return by that date. #