The Kaija Saariaho International Organ Composition Competition, organized to celebrate the new Rieger organ in the Helsinki Music Centre Concert Hall, received 98 applications with compositions from all over the world. The jury, chaired by composer Kaija Saariaho, presented 11 prizes. All award-winning compositions will be performed at the Helsinki Music Centre by summer 2025. The pieces will be performed by international organists such as Amelie Held (a member of The Diapason’s 20 Under 30 Class of 2023), Franz Danksagmüller from Germany, and Markku Hietaharju and Ville Urponen from Finland.
The winners of the competition’s concerto category are Tomi Räisänen from Finland and Federico Perotti from Italy, receiving €12,000 prizes. Their compositions will be premiered in the concerts of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra during 2024. In the chamber orchestra category, the jury awarded two compositions by Artturi Rönkä of Finland and Bálint Karosi from Hungary, with €5,000 prizes. The Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra will perform the compositions during 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, also with €5,000 prizes.
Suomen Säveltäjät ry (Society of Finnish Composers) and Kirkkomusiikin Säveltäjät ry (Church Music Composers’ Association) presented special prizes of €3,000 and €1,000, respectively, to Cuesta Gorka of Spain. Lahden kansainvälinen urkuviikko (Lahti Organ Festival) presented a special prize of €2,400 to Gunnar Idenstam of Sweden.
In addition to Kaija Saariaho, the jury included Nicholas Collon, Susanna Mälkki, Francesco Filidei, Jan Lehtola, Susanne Kujala, and 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 the Helsinki Music Centre Organ Association.
The new Helsinki Music Centre concert organ will be completed during summer 2023 and will be inaugurated January 1, 2024. The organ will have 124 registers, the largest in Finland and Scandinavia, one of the largest in Europe, and the world’s largest organ in a concert hall.
For information: musiikkitalonsaatio.fi.