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Record number of participants in the renewed composing contest

23.3.2021

The Jury includes Bob Mintzer and Iro Haarla

The Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest organized by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and the Finnish Big Band Association received a record number of compositions; more than double compared to the 2019 competition. 

A total of 76 composers from 22 countries and 4 continents, including 8 Finnish competitors, took part in the contest. This year’s competition was limited to musicians under the age of 35.

Composers participated in the competition under a pseudonym and the first pre-qualification round will be done anonymously. On the first round UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra will play and record all works that meet the competition criteria. At this stage, 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.

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. American composer and big band leader Bob Mintzer will join the jury in the final concert.

Bob Mintzer (b. 1953) is an American Grammy-winning saxophonist, composer, arranger and conductor. He has played in bands of several jazz greats such as Buddy Rich, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, as well as Jaco Pastorius and is a longtime member of the Yellowjackets. Today, Mintzer is the chief conductor of the German WDR Big Band and holds the Barbara and Buzz McCoy endowed chair at the USC Thornton School of Music.

Iro Haarla (b. 1956) is a pianist, harpist, composer and band leader. She has recorded three albums with her Finnish-Norwegian quintet produced by Manfred Eicher on ECM Records and five albums with her Finnish groups on TUM Records. Haarla has been awarded the Pori Jazz Ted Curson Prize in 2018, Jazz Emma Prizes in 2005 and 2011, and the Finnish Jazz Federation’s Yrjö Prize in 2006.

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. www.umohelsinki.fi

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. www.sbby.com


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