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The Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest will be held again in 2023

Held every other year, the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest will be organized again in 2023 by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and The Finnish Big Band Association (SBBY). The competition, previously known as the Esko Linnavalli big band composition competition, was reformed two years ago, and the rules have been slightly modified again in this year’s edition. 

This time, all European or Europe-based composers without age limit can participate in the competition with one previously unrecorded and unpublished 4–7 minute piece, composed for a standard big band orchestration.

Contestants must submit their entries by May 1, 2023. Composers participate in the competition anonymously, under a pseudonym. The finalists will be announced after two anonymous pre-qualification rounds on August 25, 2023. A maximum of 10 compositions will be performed live by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra in the final concert at Malmitalo, Helsinki, on October 5, 2023, conducted by Antti Rissanen. Tickets for the final concert are already for sale at

The finalists are announced on August 30, see the list here!

The jury of the competition includes the artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka (head of jury), British pianist, composer and conductor Nikki Iles, and Finnish saxophonist, composer and conductor Eero Koivistoinen.

– This contest gives needed exposure and financial support to composers who may not otherwise have the chance to have their music performed by a professional big band. In the last edition of the contest, we focused on young composers and in this edition, we will be focusing on European composers. In addition to helping the composers with exposure and financial support, this contest also is a great way for UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra to meet composers and arrangers for future projects. Finalists from the last edition have been working regularly as arrangers, soloists and even conductors for UMO, says Ed Partyka, the chief conductor and artistic director of UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, who also is the head of the jury. 





Participation in the competition is confined to Europe only. Contestants must either be citizens or residents of a European country. Participants need to produce documentary evidence of their citizenship or recidency in an European country. Entries are not limited by age.

The competition entries must be scored for standard big band orchestration. Admissible doubling instruments are mentioned below:

  • 2 alto saxophones, doubling instrument: clarinet (in Bb)
  • 2 tenor saxophones, doubling instrument: flute (no alto flutes and/or piccolos)
  • baritone saxophone, doubling instrument: bass clarinet
  • 4 trumpets, doubling instrument: flugelhorn
  • 3 trombones
  • bass trombone
  • piano
  • bass
  • drums

In addition, all mutes for brass instruments can be used. PLEASE NOTE! Guitar is NOT included in the line-up.

The duration of the competing work must not be less than four (4) nor more than seven (7) minutes. Works entered in the competition must not be previously recorded or released. Each composer is allowed to submit one composition for the contest. Previous 1st prize winners of Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest or Esko Linnavalli Big Band Composition Competition or jury members are not allowed to enter.


Compositions must be submitted anonymously, under a pseudonym, to by Monday May 1, 2023 at 16:00 (UTC+2) at the latest. Entries sent after this will be disqualified of the competition. 

The email must be titled “Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023”, and it must include the following attachments:

  • filled application form
  • documentary evidence of citizenship or recidency in an European country
  • anonymous sheet music as PDF files:
    • separate parts, A4 portrait
    • transposed score, A3 landscape
    • untransposed (in C) score, A3 landscape
  • audio file of the composition (MP3 or MIDI)

The application form must include the following information:

  • name of the composition
  • pseudonym of composer
  • name and date of birth of composer
  • postal address, phone number and email of composer



In the assessment stage in June 2023 the jury will select a maximum of 30 works for the second stage based on audio files and anonymous scores. The results of the first qualification will not be published. In the second qualification in August 2023 the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra will play the pre-selected compositions, and the jury will qualify a maximum of 10 compositions for the final. The names of qualified finalists will be announced on Friday August 25, 2023. 

The compositions qualified in the final will be performed live by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra in the final concert, which will be held at Malmitalo, Helsinki on Thursday October 5, 2023. The compositions will be judged in the final by a jury set by the organisers of the competition. The final results will be announced immediately after the event. The composers competing in the final are invited to attend the final concert at Malmitalo. The organisers will not cover travel or accommodation costs incurred by attending the final.


Ed Partyka (Chairman), Artistic Director of UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra (US/AT) 

Nikki Iles, pianist, composer, conductor (UK) 

Eero Koivistoinen, saxophonist, composer, conductor (FIN) 


1st prize:     3.000 euro

2nd prize:   2.000 euro

3rd prize:    1.000 euro

The jury has the right to divide the prizes in another way, as well as award special prices.

The organisers reserve the right to premiere the selected works at the final concert on October 5, 2023. All finalists will cede the right of use of the compositions to the organisers, and by participating in the contest agree that the sheet music of the compositions will be freely distributed after the contest via

The organisers have the right to broadcast, record, video, televise, film and photograph the competition performances and to make sound and video recordings of these.


Any potential disagreements will be resolved according to the Finnish rules of the contest. Any situation caused by Force majeure reasons will be resolved by the competition committee. 


Two representatives nominated by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and two representatives nominated by the Finnish Big Band Association.

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

Terhi Siirala, 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 repertoire 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 organization 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. 

Photo: Heikki Kynsijärvi