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Claudia Döffinger from Germany won the composing contest

The final concert of the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest was held at the Savoy Theater, Helsinki Finland on Friday, June 4th.

The winner of the contest is Claudia Döffinger (Germany/Austria) with her composition Nachtwache. Second prize goes to Oskari Siirtola (Finland) and his piece Dear Theo. The third prize travels to Belgium, to italian composer Gabriele di Franco. The first prize is 3000 euros, second 2000 euros and third 1000 euros.

You can watch the final concert on-demand and for free at until 18 June and at UMO Helsinki YouTube channel until 31 August. 

Claudia Döffinger is a German jazz piano player and composer/arranger. She is founder of several ensembles, like SONORcherstra, fourscape and ELiNOR with which she has published four albums and played numerous concerts all over the world. She has gained several international music prizes during the past years. Claudia wants to move people through her music, either emotionally or physically. Nachtwache is about the last encounter between two persons. It’s about the cycle of dying, of fading away peacefully and calmly.

Oskari Siirtola is a Finnish bassist and composer kept busy by performing with groups such as Sointi Jazz Orchestra and Elena Mindru Finnection. He’s studying at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. In his spare time Oskari tries not to buy too many synthesizers or effects pedals. He’s also a keen cartoonist. Dear Theo takes its name from the famous letters Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother. As Vincent pursued his turbulent career in the arts, Theo provided him with both financial and emotional support. 

Gabriele di Franco, born in Italy and currently living in Brussels, is a composer, arranger, and guitarist. He defines himself as an ambiguous artist; living that undefined space between jazz, classical, and world music, focusing on deepness and consciousness in the process of making choices. In other words: composing. Multiple award winner Gabriele has graduated at the Nino Rota Conservatory and holds a Master in Jazz Composition & Arranging from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. 

The composing contest received a record number of compositions: a total of 76 composers from 22 countries and 4 continents. After two anonymous pre-qualification rounds, 10 compositions got into the final concert and were played by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Antti Rissanen. 

The jury included composer and big band leader Bob Mintzer (USA), composer and pianist Iro Haarla (Finland), UMO’s artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka (USA / Austria) and conductor Antti Rissanen (Finland). The final concert was organised in co-operation with UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, Finnish Big Band Association and Savoy Theatre