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The International Kaija Saariaho Organ Composition Competition

Jun 8, 2023

The International Kaija Saariaho Organ Composition Competition

The International Kaija Saariaho Organ Composition Competition, organised to celebrate Helsinki Music Centre Concert Hall’s new Rieger organ that is to be finished in the autumn of 2023, received 98 participating compositions from all over the world. The jury, chaired by composer Kaija Saariaho, presented altogether 11 main prizes. Moreover, Suomen Säveltäjät ry (The Society of Finnish Composers), Kirkkomusiikin Säveltäjät ry (The Church Music Composers’ Association) and Lahden kansainvälinen urkuviikko (The Lahti Organ Festival) presented special prizes for the compositions of their choosing. All award-winning compositions will be performed at the Helsinki Music Centre by the summer of 2025. The pieces will be performed by notable international organists, such as Amelie Held and Franz Danksagmüller from Germany, and Markku Hietaharju and Ville Urponen from Finland.

The winners of the Organ Composition Competition’s Series A, which is the concerto category, and the recipients of the 12,000 euro main prizes are Tomi Räisänen from Finland and Federico Perotti from Italy. Their compositions will premier in the concerts of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra during 2024. In the chamber orchestra category, the jury decided to award two compositions. The winning compositions were written by Artturi Rönkä from Finland and Bálint Karosi from Hungary. The Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra will perform the compositions during the spring seasons of 2024 and 2025. The winners of the solo category are Tomasz Szczepanik from Poland, Luc Antonini and Yves Balmer from France, Zacharias Ehnvall from Sweden, Simon Holt from England, Ere Lievonen from Finland, Mauricio Silva Orendain from Mexico, and Chang Qi from China.

In addition to Kaija Saariaho, the jury included chief conductor Nicholas Collon and chief conductor Susanna Mälkki, organist and composer Francesco Filidei as well as organist and composer, Doctor of Music, Jan Lehtola, organist and Doctor of Music Susanne Kujala, and professor, Doctor of Music, Olli Porthan. The competition was funded by the Helsinki Music Centre Foundation and the Alfred Kordelin Foundation. The prizes were funded by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation. The competition was organized by Helsinki Music Centre Organ Association.

The new Helsinki Music Centre concert organ, impressive even with its façade, will be completed during the summer of 2023 and it will be inaugurated on New Year’s Day January 1st 2024. The organ that has aroused significant international interest will have 124 registers grouped in several divisions. It will be the largest organ in Finland and Scandinavia, one of the largest in Europe, and the world’s largest organ in a concert hall.

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