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Tobias Hoffmann from Germany won the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023

The final concert of the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023 was held at the Malmitalo, Helsinki Finland on Thursday, October 5th.

The winner of the contest is Tobias Hoffmann (Germany) with composition Buoyancy. Second prize goes to Filip Wiśniewski (Germany) and his piece Bacon And Death. The third prize travels to UK devided with two composers: Andy Schofield’s Hear My Voice and Charlie Bates’ The Good ThingsIn addition, Bates’ composition got a special award as orchestra’s favorite. The first prize is 3000 euros, second 2000 euros and third 1000 euros prize was divided into two 500 euros sets. 

Tobias Hoffmann (b. 1988) is a German, nowadays Austria based saxophonist and composer, who received the second prize in the Esko Linnavalli Composers Contest in 2019 and was also in the finals of HIBBCC 2021. He has been awarded several composing prizes worldwide, e.g. by the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers, Downbeat Magazine and the 2nd Ise-Shima International Popular Music Composition Competition in Japan. Besides working with his own band projects, Tobias works as a sideman, composer and arranger. He conducted the Vienna Spittelberg Jazz Orchestra 2014–2017. 

Filip Wisniewski (b. 1982) is a German based composer, arranger and jazz guitarist. He studied jazz guitar 2004–2010 and composing and arranging 2020–2022 in Nuremberg. He has written music for different ensembles, concert bands, big bands and vocal ensembles. His first big band concert program was played by the Sunday Night Orchestra in 2022. For this graduation concert he achieved the Bavarian culture price. Filip’s colourful storytelling composing style for large ensembles and big bands is deeply influenced by symphonic music, but also pop, alternative music and big band jazz tradition. 

Andy Schofield (b. 1966) is a saxophonist/composer/arranger and teacher from Manchester UK, now living in Prague, CZ. He was a founder member of the ground-breaking Creative Jazz Orchestra in the UK from the mid-1990s, working alongside such artists as Kenny Wheeler, Bill Frisell, Peter Erskine, Mike Gibbs and Vince Mendoza, and has toured and recorded with artists as diverse as George Michael and Anthony Braxton. Andy is very active in the European jazz scene, and is a member of several European jazz ensembles. He currently leads the Jazz Dock Orchestra big band in Prague. 

Charlie Bates (b. 1994) is a pianist, composer, arranger and conductor from London, UK. He studied at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and graduated as a prizewinner and with first class honours in 2017. Charlie has won a number of awards for composing in the UK, including the Ivor Novello, the Dankworth and Eddie Harvey Awards. Most recently, he has been working with the world famous NDR Big Band (DE) as a guest composer, conductor and arranger. Charlie also works as an educator: he coaches big bands and jazz ensembles.

You can watch the final concert on-demand and for free UMO Helsinki’s web sitemobile app and YouTube channel.  

The jury of the competition included 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 year’s competition was limited to European or Europe-based composers with no age limit. 76 participants from 24 countries entered the competition. After two anonymous pre-qualification rounds, the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra played the ten compositions selected for the final concert in front of a live and online audience, led by conductor Antti Rissanen.

The Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest is organized and produced by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and the Finnish Big Band Association. The biennial contest will be organized again in 2025. The competition was previously known as the Esko Linnavalli big band composition competition.