Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements for the demo? Where can I practice during the competition? Do I get feedback from the Jury? We have gathered here answers to some frequently asked questions.
What does it cost to enter the competition?
There is no entry or participation fee for the Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition. Competitors pay their own (and their accompanist’s) travelling expenses to and from Helsinki. However, the Competition Committee may, at its discretion, award travel bursaries to competitors travelling from outside Europe.
We try to support singers in many ways, to allow them to concentrate on their performance and to ensure that the competition as a whole is a rewarding experience. We pay competitors a daily allowance and provide a travel card for Helsinki public transport. We also offer lunch each day and a free family B&B accommodation option.
The Competition has lots more to offer singers: Master Classes, a Singers’ Studio (an interview and question time with a member of the Jury), joint events and outings. Participation in these is, however, voluntary.
What prizes does the competition award?
The Mirjam Helin Competition awards prizes to the four best men and the four best women. In both categories, the first prize is worth €30,000, the second €20,000, the third €15,000 and the fourth €10,000. A prize of €3,000 is also awarded to a non-Finnish singer for the best performance of a Finnish solo song, and the semifinalists receive an award of €1,000 and a diploma. A total of €173,000 is thus awarded in prizes. The winners are also offered performance opportunities, and the competition collaborates with the Ondine record label.
Read more about prizes and advantages here.
Are the monetary prizes tax free?
Whether or not a prize is taxed depends on the taxation practice in your country of residence. In Finland, the Mirjam Helin Competition prizes have been tax free by decision of the Ministry of Finance.
What are the requirements for the demo to be submitted with the application form; quality, format?
For the pre-selection procedure, the application form must be accompanied by a quality audiovisual recording of you performing one aria and two solo songs in different styles and languages.
The three pieces may be recorded either individually or together, but each piece must be a single take (i.e., the sound and image must not be recorded separately). You must be recognisable from the recording(s).
We recommend uploading MP4. However, the following video formats are also accepted: MPEG, MPG, MOV, AVI, WMV, M4V, VOB. The works presented on the pre-screening recording may be included into the competition programme.
We recommend you upload three separate recordings, one for each piece.
Why does the competition repertoire include a song by a Finnish composer? Must it be sung in Finnish?
The Mirjam Helin Competition seeks to promote Finnish vocal music. Finland has two official languages (Finnish and Swedish), and the words of many songs were originally in Swedish. The work by a Finnish composer need not be sung in Finnish or Swedish; it may also be sung in an available translation – in English or German, for example. Please note, too, that there is a prize of €3,000 for the best performance by a non-Finnish singer of a Finnish solo song.
Where can I find solo songs by Finnish composers?
The Mirjam Helin Competition has published a catalogue of Finnish solo songs giving the words in Finnish, Swedish, English and German. This catalogue can, for example, be ordered online from the publisher at suomalaisiayksinlauluja. Alternatives, and more recent songs by Finnish composers can also be sought via Music Finland, for example: https://core.musicfinland.fi/
Competitors are offered free accommodation in Helsinki families. Do I get a room of my own?
The Helsinki families selected as hosts providing accommodation for competitors in international music competitions are all kind, hospitable ones interested in music and young people and have an international orientation. They provide a room of your own and breakfast, and in most cases somewhere for you to practise. They also give help and support with many practical things. This free family accommodation is at the same time a unique opportunity to see how people live in a Nordic country.
Where can I practise during the competition?
Practice facilities are provided free of charge throughout the competition at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. The practice rooms are very close to the concert hall and the Competition Office. Practising is also possible in family accommodation, as agreed with the host family.
Can all the competitors attend Master Classes?
The Jury selects competitors who did not get beyond the Preliminary Round for Master Classes held in conjunction with the competition. In other words, taking part in the competition does not automatically mean you can attend the Master Class as a pupil. The Master Classes are taught by members of the Jury. The teacher often proposes the song to be rehearsed. The Master Classes are free for the pupil and also open to the public.
How does the Jury work? Do I get feedback on my performance?
The Jury must allow for the competitor’s performance throughout the competition in making its decisions. After each round, the members of the Jury each name the singers they consider most deserve to go through to the next round. Each member votes independently, and there is no discussion. After the Finals, the members of the Jury vote on each prize separately. Each singer also receives personal feedback from the Jury after his/her last round.
Why does the Jury consist only of singers?
It was the wish of Mirjam Helin, the founder of the competition, that it be kept as free as possible from conflicting interests. The competition seeks the best singer, not the most suitable singer for a particular role. The competitors are assessed by peers who have made a successful international career and can thus provide invaluable feedback and advice.
Once again, the members of the Mirjam Helin Competition Jury 2019 chaired by Jorma Silvasti are star international singers: Olaf Bär, Ben Heppner, Vesselina Kasarova, François Le Roux, Waltraud Meier, Deborah Polaski and Kiri Te Kanawa.
What is the deadline for application?
The application deadline for the 2019 Mirjam Helin Competition is 30 November 2018. However, applications begun by that date may be supplemented up to 14 December 2018.
You will find the application form at https://mirjamhelin.embark.com/apply/2019.
If you are accepted for the competition, repertoire changes will be permitted up to 8 February 2019.