Last September, the American Music Center began receiving complaints and inquiries concerning the 2nd Annual International Composers Competition held by STUDIO for New Music. Their concern was due in part to the rather unconventional application system which required that prospective applicants first send in a $40 fee in order to be issued an application number. The first composers to contact the AMC were concerned when their checks were cashed or credit cards charged but no number was received. In November, it was announced that “as a result of unforeseen administrative changes” certain postponements were necessary, but that competition would otherwise proceed as planned.
Composers again voiced concern when January 15, 2004, the date the winners were to be announced, came and went. Meanwhile, many composers have had difficulty contacting clarinetist and conductor JD Hixson, the man behind STUDIO for New Music, complaining of unreturned emails and phone calls.
Due to these concerns, JD Hixson was contacted and asked for an update. He responded in an email that he was “aware of the host of complications that surround the competition and truly apologize[s] for the inconvenience.”
He noted that an announcement would be posted shortly on the STUDIO for New Music website to clear up the confusion and provided that information to NewMusicBox this morning. It reads in full:
STUDIO for New Music (NY) wishes to extend to all applicants its most sincere apologies for the confusion and complications involved in this year’s 2nd Annual International Composers Competition.
After a regrettable hiatus in processing applications and the subsequent delay in the jurying process, the competition is again underway.
The new deadline for materials is May 21, 2004, at which point the finalized jury panel will be announced. Results will be announced July 19, 2004. Winners concert TBA Fall, 2004.
Please direct all specific requests and inquiries to StudioNewMusic@aol.com—please allow 48 hours for response.
Meanwhile, composers who have applied to this competition and continue to have concerns are urged to contact Lyn Liston at the American Music Center (see sidebar).
Composer Eric Flesher, the second-prize winner from the first STUDIO for New Music competition, said that that competition was run in a timely manner—it was not until after the winners were announced that delays began. The first issue was the winner’s concert, which was postponed from May to September, and then cancelled three days before. It was then rescheduled for December, and though Flesher said he was skeptical it would actually occur, his piece was given “a very good performance. [Hixson] got some really good musicians.” However, he says the concert was very lightly attended, likely due to poor advertising.
As of this writing, Flesher has not received his prize money. He has been told by Hixson that the organization that serves as STUDIO for New Music’s fiscal conduit would not cut the check until the performance occurred. Flesher has made several inquiries since the performance, but has not received a response.
Flesher remains patient, despite the hold ups. “It’s my impression after meeting him that he was working himself to the bone, so correspondence and things got moved to the back of the shelf. It seems like he works too many jobs,” he said, adding that Hixson apologized for the delays when they met in New York. He also said that Hixson’s actions did not seem dishonest, but that it was more a “matter of [Hixson] not having time to do everything he wants to do.”