DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A youth band trip to Europe – paid for but never delivered.
Dozens of North Texans are among those who may be out thousands of dollars after the travel company went bankrupt.
For bass trombone player Beau Ballard, a chance to attend an international music festival in Europe was a gift.
“It seemed like a great opportunity to see the world, both through a tourist’s lens and a musician’s lens,” says Ballard.
The Aledo High School senior and other North Texans signed on with Georgia-based Harmony International – and paid $4,000 for the trip that was supposed to take place last year.
“They seemed very legit. They were connected with people in the music community that we knew of and respected,” says Gina Wood, Ballard’s mother.
But just weeks before they departed, the trip was postponed. Harmony blamed terrorism in Europe, saying, “We simply cannot put a price tag on the lives of each of our participants and staff.”
“Terrorists concerns are always there, but they’ve been doing this for years, and it had never been a problem before,” says Ballard.
They agreed to a rescheduled visit to Ireland, slated for this July. But several months later, that trip was cancelled.
“Absolutely no reason was given,” says Wood. “My immediate thing was, okay, well then I want my money back.”
Wood says their requests went unanswered, until Harmony International’s attorney told them the company was going out of business and encouraged families to dispute the charges with their credit card companies. Today, Wood is still out $2,800 and doesn’t expect to see the rest. But she and her son would still like answers.
“I would just ask why? What was their point, their purpose?” Ballard says. “It was just disappointing, both from a musical standpoint as well as from a human standpoint.”
“I think they’re pretty sorry individuals,” says Wood.
CBS11 received the following statement from Erika Orcutt, attorney for Harmony International:
“Harmony International successfully produced over 200 trips to 5 different continents and 30 different countries, with more than 7,000 participants throughout its 10 years in business. We regret that there were some trips that had to be cancelled for reasons outside of our control. We understand the disappointment and frustration felt by those who were planning to attend. Regrettably, due to financial circumstances that culminated during the same time frame as the cancellations, harmony international was forced to cease business operations.
The company filed for bankruptcy protection on May 16, 2017. The assigned bankruptcy trustee is currently in the process of gathering the corporate assets, including making a claim against the company’s insurance policy, which will be used to pay those who have made claims for refunds through the bankruptcy court. We have been in direct communication, individually and collectively, with those affected regarding this difficult situation. Although bankruptcy proceedings can take many months, we believe the bankruptcy process will achieve the best result for all involved and look forward to its ultimate resolution.”
Two TCU music professors who have worked with Harmony International also sent CBS11 the following statement:
“We were disappointed to learn that harmony international had filed for bankruptcy, and we are deeply saddened by subsequent effects on students and staff who were registered for upcoming programs. We have served as artistic directors for harmony programs over the past five years, ensuring that the musicians who enroll have a valid and enriching musical experience. Prior to this development, we had experienced five years of successful and professionally administrated tours across the globe. We continue to monitor the situation and remain hopeful for a resolution in the best interests of those who registered in good faith for these programs.” – Bobby Francis, Director of Bands, and Dr. Brian west, Division Chair and Coordinator of Percussion.