Marja-Leena Pétas , Executive Secretary of the Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition, welcomes all vocal-music lovers to the world’s most prestigious singing competition.
“While respecting tradition and history, the forthcoming competition looks strongly to the future,” says Secretary General Marja-Leena Pétas, MMus. “We keep strictly to the principle adopted by Mirjam Helin: to strive for the highest quality in all we do.”
Singing competitions have to vie with one another for good contestants. The highly-demanding Mirjam Helin Competition received a record 343 applications from all over the world. Singers are attracted by the good prizes, the interesting jury and the chance, as previous winners have shown, to gain access to the world’s most esteemed vocal arenas.
Now, for the first time, the applicants submitted a demo on DVD. The selection board could thus now get a better overall impression of the singer and duly chose 30 women and 34 men to take part in the competition. Eleven of these are Finns. “The Mirjam Helin Competition enhances the status of singing and singers,” says Marja-Leena Pétas. “International contacts should be fostered in the years in between as well.”
Jury creates new profile
The Mirjam Helin Competition keeps up with the times. The Competition Committee discussed the jury and possible members way back in autumn 2005. The new profile resulted in a younger jury. Its members are active performing artists and figures of influence in the world of music: Spanish mezzo Teresa Berganza, Finnish Soile Isokoski (possibly the most sought-after soprano in the world today), US tenor Thomas Moser, now living in Austria, Russian bass Evgeny Nesterenko, German bass René Pape, mezzo and director elect of the Royal Swedish Opera Birgitta Svendén and Bulgarian soprano Anna Tomowa-Sintow.
The jury is chaired by Jorma Silvasti, one of Europe’s most celebrated tenors, who has been eagerly involved with the preparations. Nesterenko now serves on this jury for the fifth time. René Pape, winner of the prize for men in 1989, returns to his roots after making a dazzling international career.
The competition first introduced master classes in 1999. The participants in these are chosen by the jury after the preliminary round and are taught by 4 or 5 members of the jury. Members of the public can listen to these classes free of charge.
Marja-Leena Pétas has been following the competition from the very beginning, with Mirjam Helin, and has fully embraced its objectives. She has been a member of the Competition Committee since 2002. As Executive Secretary she is now responsible for the organisation, right down to the smallest detail. She knows that the end result is the sum of the dedicated input of numerous actors and factors. “I’m honoured to see the competition from this side, too,” she says.