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  Won Composition Contest but didn`t receive prize  orfeo at 19:55 on 20 January 2012
 

Hello fellow composers,

It is not pleasant for me to write this post, but I feel other composer ought to be informed of this. I apologize if the post is a bit long, but I think that, in a case like this, you need to give all the relevant information.

Back in early 2011, I entered the 2011 PAS Composition Contest, hosted by the Percussive Arts Society, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

I found out about this contest through the Composition Today website, and in fact I had participated in it before, in 2008, when my piece, Four Basho Haiku, won the 2nd place prize.

On July 25, 2011, I received an e-mail from Michael Kenyon, Executive Director at PAS, informing me that my piece, Time-Clouds, had been selected as the third place winner in the 2011 PAS Composition Contest, Unaccompanied-Solo Vibraphone Category. He also informed me that they would send a check with the prize money to my Mexico City home address.

A few weeks passed, and the check did not arrive. I logged into the PAS website, and saw that they had posted the winners of the contest. My last name was misspelled, so I sent an e-mail to their contact address asking them to correct it.

I didnīt receive a reply. So, on October 11, I sent another e-mail to Michael Kenyon, informing him of this situation. I also told him that I did not know if they had sent the check already, but that I wouldn't be able to cash it if my last name was misspelled.

He replied that they were correcting the spelling on the website, apologized for the error, and told me that he had reviewed my payment and the spelling was correct.

I decided to wait some more, but the check still did not arrive. So, on November 3, I sent another e-mail to Mr. Kenyon, thanking him for correcting the spelling of my name, and also mentioning that I had still not received the check.

I received no reply to this e-mail.

On December 14, I sent another e-mail, reminding him of my previous one. I also received no reply.

So, in early January, I phoned the PAS offices, and asked to speak to Mr. Kenyon. The secretary informed me that he was out for the day. I asked her if there was someone else who could assist me, and I explained the problem to her. She took my phone number and e-mail address, and told me that either Mr. Kenyon, or their accountant would get in touch with me.

On January 12, I received an e-mail from this secretary, Christina Jordan. Informing me that she had spoke to the accountant, and that they had sent the check to my address; that the check had been cashed and the contest funds dispersed. She also sent an attached document from their bank, which, she told me, showed that the check had been cashed.

This document was a scan of the check. Made to my name, with my correct home address printed on the front. On the back of the check was a doodle, that pretended to be an endorsment signature.

I spoke with my bank manager, and he explained that banking law in Mexico is very strict on the handling of checks in US dollars drawn from US banks. The recipient has to identify him/herself thoroughly with a valid ID, and the check has to be deposited exclusively in the recipients account. You cannot endorse the check and have someone else deposit it to a different account.

So, it appears that someone stole this check, either in the US or in Mexico, and cashed it illegaly.

I promptly replied to Ms. Jordan e-mail, explaining that I had never received this check. I sent a scan of my ID, asking them to compare my signature with the doodle on the back of the check. I also said that I was somewhat disconcerted over the fact that Mr. Kenyon had not responded to my e-mails, or to my phone call.

After I sent this e-mail, I phoned again. Another secretary picked up, neither Mr. Kenyon, nor Mrs. Jordan, were in. So I had to explain the whole thing again.

To this day, I have not received a reply from PAS, so I suppose they consider the matter closed.

I am sure all my fellow composers agree that prizes, are very important for our resumes. But also, that money prizes are more than welcome additions to making our living by writing music. I am certaily pleased that my piece won 3rd place, but I am really disapointed that I received no prize for it!

I am also disapointed by the way PAS has handled the whole thing. I suggested that, in the future, they should use a courier service for delivering checks to international locations, instead of regular mail service.

The whole thing has been a bit unpleasant. I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience, and I hope to hear your thoughts on this.

Sincerely,

Jorge Vidales