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UMO and The Finnish Big Band Association organise a reformed composition contest

Edited 23.3.2021

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and The Finnish Big Band Association organise a reformed composition contest, Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest. It will replace the Esko Linnavalli Big Band Composition Competition held biennially since 2005, slightly updating the rules of its predecessor. 

– The competition has become more and more popular each time. Our goal is to bring out new talents from both the domestic and especially international field. The competition is open to all composers under the age of 35, from all over the world, emphasizes Antti Rissanen, President of The Finnish Big Band Association.

The contest is open for composers born on 5 Jun 1986 or after, allowing each contestant enter one previously unrecorded and unreleased piece. Contestants must submit their entries by 22 Mar 2021. Composers participate in the competition anonymously, while finalists will be announced after pre-qualification round on 31 May 2021 (Edited 23.3.: original date was 7 May). A maximum of 10 compositions will be performed live by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra led by conductor Antti Rissanen in the final concert on 4 Jun 2021. The jury of the competition includes e.g. UMO’s Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Ed Partyka. Edited 23.3.: On the first round the jury, which includes composer and pianist Iro Haarla, UMO’s artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka, conductor Antti Rissanen and the orchestra itself, will select a maximum of 10 finalists based on the recordings. American composer and big band leader Bob Mintzer will join the jury in the final concert.

Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest         

Rules of the competition:


The competition is open for any composer born on 5 Jun 1986 or after. The jury members and the former winners of Esko Linnavalli Big Band Composition Competition from years 2005–2019 are not allowed to enter.

The Composition

The entry piece must not be previously recorded or released. Each composer is allowed to submit one composition for the competition. 

The total playing time of the composed piece should be 4–7 minutes. Instrumentation should be for standard big band line-up (2 alto saxophones, 2 tenor saxophones, baritone saxophone, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, bass trombone, piano, bass, drums and guitar). All the mutes for brass instruments are allowed, and flugelhorns are allowed for trumpet parts as doubling instruments. (Note! No side instruments on saxophone section.)

Submitting the application and the sheet music

All the parts, the transposed score and concert key score as PDF format, as well as MP3 or MIDI file should be submitted to the email address no later than Monday 22 Mar 2021 at 16:00 (UTC+2). The email must be titled “Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest”.

Also the unbound score and taped parts should be delivered to the UMO Helsinki by 22 Mar 2021 (post stamp date) addressed to: UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, Tallberginkatu 1/139, FI-00180 Helsinki, Finland. Phone number +358 40 763 6275. The envelope should be marked “Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2021”. Enclosed there should be a sealed envelope containing the entrant’s completed application form.

The sheet music (neither the PDF nor the printed) must not include any personal information other than the composer’s pseudonym.

Please note that you must submit all of the materials mentioned above; scores, parts, audio file, prints and application form; both by email and snail mail.


1st prize 3 000 euros, 2nd prize 2 000 euros, 3rd prize 1 000 euros. The jury may award the prizes differently and award special prizes.


Edited 23.3.: Due to the Covid-19 situation, the arrangements for the final concert have been changed. Contrary to preliminary information, the names of the chosen finalists will be published on 31 May and the concert will take place on 4 June as a virtual event only. (Original date of announcing the finalists was 7 May)

A maximum of 10 compositions will qualify for the final and be performed live by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra. 

The compositions will be judged in the final by a jury set by the organisers.

The use of compositions after the contest and returning of sheet music

All finalists will cede the right of use of the compositions to the organisers, and by participating the competition they agree that the compositions will become freely distributed via 

The organisers have the right to record, videotape, photograph and broadcast (via TV and/or radio) the compositions entered into the contest. The organisers also have the right to make sound and/or video recordings of the pieces and share these recordings on their respective websites.

The compositions submitted to the compositions will not be returned. However, those not selected to the final can be picked up from the UMO Helsinki office by 31 Aug 2021.

Conflict situations

Should any conflicts arise, the competition rules written in Finnish will be applied in settling them. Any situations caused by Force Majeure reasons will be resolved by the competition committee. Competition committee members are Ed Partyka & Eeva Pirkkala (UMO) and Antti Rissanen & Henriika Steidel-Luoto (SBBY).

The Organisers

The competition is organised in cooperation by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra (UMO Foundation) and The Finnish Big Band Association.

For further information please contact:
Terhi Siiral, production manager, UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra 
+358 40 763 6275

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra is a professional Finnish big band that plays live in roughly one hundred concerts and other events annually. Since its formation in 1975, the orchestra has released more than 60 albums and collaborated with both Finnish household names and international superstars of jazz. UMO’s repertory reaches from jazz and soul to classical music and beyond, bringing together old and new in an innovative way.

The Finnish Big Band Association (SBBY) currently operates as the umbrella organisation of more than forty Finnish big bands. The association provides membership services and supports the training and concert activities of member orchestras and maintains a nationwide Junior All Star Big Band. The members of SBBY are amateur, professional, youth and student orchestras.