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Hillier has been the artistic director of the National Chamber Choir since 2008. paulhillier.net
Arts

National Chamber Choir director arrested over child support

Grammy-winning conductor Paul Hillier is detained in New York after his ex-wife stops him from seeing their daughters.

THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR and conductor of Ireland’s National Chamber Choir was arrested in New York this week after police enforced a warrant for unpaid child support.

Hillier, who was due to conduct the Ars Nova Copenhagen choir at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York City, was arrested by state police acting in partnership with prosecutors from Oregon who had issued a warrant in respect of his refusal to pay for his childrens’ upbringing.

Hillier is understood to have withheld payments to Lena-Liis Kiesel, his first wife, for four years after she refused to allow him access to their daughters, aged 24 and 19.

The world-renowned vocal coach (61) was immediately brought to jail, and was only freed after arranging to forward Kissel the €69,500 he owed her.

Afterward, however, Hillard complimented the police for their handling of the incident and laid the blame for it squarely at his former partner’s feet.

“I have to say that I was treated by [the NYPD] with great courtesy and understanding [... but] my rights as a father have been comprehensively trampled into the ground.

“I paid child support regularly for several years, but apart from a single two-week visit by my younger daughter, the visitation was totally and very effectively prevented by the girls’ mother.

“Eventually I told her I would stop sending child support unless and until she started to keep her side of the agreement. She never did.

“During the past year I had been trying various ways to settle the matter amicably between us, but without success.”

Hillier joined the National Chamber Choir in 2008, the same year that he won the first of his two Grammy awards.

The National Chamber Choir kick off a nationwide autumn tour in three weeks, but Hillard is not scheduled to conduct.

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