Previous winners include mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča and bass René Pape. The competition became a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions (Fédération Mondiale des Concours Internationaux de Musique, Geneva) in 1987.
The Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition is intended for young singers with experience and maturity. The competition has two categories, one for women and one for men.
The competition is known for demanding a broad repertoire (Baroque music, Lied, opera) while at the same time allowing great liberty in the choice of music. The programme does not include any obligatory compositions or composers. The Semifinals do, however, include a song by a Finnish composer.