No winner in "disappointing" Sibelius Conductors' Competition
The third International Sibelius Conductors' Competition was held in Helsinki on 12th to 15th September. After the final on Thursday evening, the international jury of the competition made a decision to award no first, second or third prizes.
According to the Chairman of the Jury Esa-Pekka Salonen, the level of the competition was a disappointment, and the jury felt that not one of the contestants met the criteria for a winner of the Sibelius Conductors' Competition.
However, the jury ended up giving smaller prizes in quite new categories. Greek Andreas Tselikas was granted an "incentive prize" of EUR 7,500, and the other contestants who had made it through to the final, Finnish Jan Söderblom and Japanese Shuntaro Sato, both received a prize worth EUR 1,500 "for their participation in the final".
A special Finnish Broadcasting Company award of EUR 1,000 for the best interpretation of the contemporary composer Uljas Pulkkis's work Trial was given to another Finnish conductor, Jani Telaranta, 29, who did not make it through to the final.
The jury thus used only part of the total of EUR 37,000 that had been set aside to be awarded as prizes in the competition.
"The decision is controversial, but the jury has the right to divide the prizes in the way it sees fit to do", Chairman Esa-Pekka Salonen announced to the astonished audience.
The remainder of the prize money will be placed at the disposal of the Young Conductors' Development and Support Association, which is behind the Sibelius competition.
The Chairman of this association, Ilkka-Christian Björklund, was nevertheless puzzled by the jury's decision.
"After all, the Finnish javelin thrower Tapio Rautavaara won a gold medal at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, regardless of the low level of the competition", he suggested.
The jury's decision was unanimous. "The level of the competition was a disappointment. Not one finalist conducted the symphony by Sibelius in a way that would entitle him to any of the first three prizes in a Sibelius Conductors' Competition. The jury spent its time creating these new categories", Salonen noted.
"I hope that the finalists understand the jury's decision and realise that being a finalist in such a competition alone is an accomplishment that will certainly promote their careers", said Salonen.
Furthermore, Salonen also regretted that five of the original 25 competitors had cancelled their participation, as some of them were very promising conductors and might have been serious contenders.
Greek conductor Andreas Tselikas, 27, who got the highest amount of money, said that he was satisfied with the competition and had enjoyed working with fine orchestras.
While satisfied with his own performance, Jan Söderblom, 34, was puzzled by the jury's decision. In any event, he was engaged by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra to conduct a concert to be broadcast on TV in March 2006. Moreover, General Director Erkki Korhonen of the Finnish National Opera promised to give Söderblom significant conducting tasks in the future.
The next Sibelius competition will be held in 2010.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Competitions highlight autumn season of large Helsinki orchestras (16.8.2005)
3rd International Sibelius Conductors' Competition 12th to 15th September, 2005
Elts wins the Sibelius Conducting Competition (19.5.2000)