Competition schedule

The competition is open from 26 March 2020, and the deadline for submitting the compositions is 29 October 2022. By 1 May 2023, the jury will choose two concertos for organ and symphony orchestra, 2–4 works for chamber orchestra and organ, and 2–6 solo organ works that will be played on the Concert Hall’s new organ, premiering in Musiikkitalo’s concerts in 2024. The concertos for organ and symphony orchestra will be performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra together with an organist. The works for chamber orchestra and organ will be performed by Finnish ensembles. Solo organ works will be performed by musicians, whose names will be published later.

Competition rules


The competition has three categories: a) concertos for organ and symphony orchestra, b) works for chamber orchestra and organ, and c) solo organ works.


All composers, regardless of nationality or age, have the right to participate in the competition. One contestant can participate with one work per category. Contestants are free to participate in all categories.


The duration of solo and chamber orchestra work is approximately 15 minutes, and the duration of concerto is 20–30 minutes. The score must be marked with the duration estimated by the composer.


The work must be unpublished, and its performance is forbidden before the possible premier in Musiikkitalo.


The work must be such that it can be played on Musiikkitalo’s new organ. Compatibility with other organs must also be considered in the composition. If the composition includes technology that is specific only to Musiikkitalo’s organ, the parts in question must be provided on an ossia staff, or it has to be possible to leave them out in case the composition is played on an instrument that does not have similar technical features to the Musiikkitalo’s organ.


The concerto category is looking for concertos for a big symphony orchestra with organ. The maximum number of instruments used in a composition is 3333 4331 T+2 hrp pno strs (14/12/10/8/7). In addition, electronics can be used. If the instrumentation fails to comply with these guidelines, the composition will be rejected. The chamber orchestra works must be composed for a sinfonietta of not more than 2222/2200/01/0/archi. Electronics are allowed.


Conductors are allowed in orchestral works.


The participation fee per contestant is 50 euros, regardless of whether the contestant participates in one, two, or three categories. The fee must be paid before sending the competition entry, and the payment receipt must be delivered together with the competition entry. If the competition fee has not been paid or is paid afterwards, the composition will be rejected.


Completed scores with a pseudonym/a completed score with a pseudonym must be delivered to the Helsinki Music Centre Foundation in electronic form; the email must be delivered by 4 p.m. on 29 October 2022 at the latest. Printed competition entries will not be processed, and scores that are delivered late will be rejected. The contestant must make sure that the composer is not revealed in the entry. It is safest to print and scan the competition entry so that the author’s name will not be visible in the file’s metadata. The email must contain a separate attachment including a payment receipt and an open entry form with the following information: pseudonym, name of work, composer’s name, age, gender, postal address, phone number and dialling code, email address (if applicable), nationality, and a signature that binds the composer to comply with the competition rules and the jury’s decisions. With the signature, the composer also declares that the work or its parts have not been performed before. The material must be written clearly and unambiguously. The competition organisation ensures that the jury will process the entries anonymously.


The composer undertakes to deliver the orchestral material for the performances. The orchestras must have the material six months before the performance.


The concerto category’s prize is 12,000 euros per composition, and the solo and chamber orchestra categories’ prize is 5,000 euros per composition. Tax exemption will be applied for the prizes. The aim is to also have different recognition awards granted by sponsors. The competition jury reserves the right to change the prize scheme.


The competition organiser reserves the right to give the first public performances of the works in 2024. The composers will have the copyrights. The competition organiser holds the right to record (audio, video) the competition performances, broadcast them on radio and TV, film and photograph the performances, and make audio and video recordings of them. The competition works will be recorded as score copies for the International Kaija Saariaho Composition Competition committee’s archives. The score copies will not be returned to composers. All contestants will be directly informed about their success in the competition.


The jury can decide not to reward any works if the level of the competition is not sufficiently high.


The competition office’s address to which the competition entries will be emailed is International Kaija Saariaho Organ Composition Competition

The original language of these rules is Finnish. Any disputes will be settled based on the rules written in Finnish.


The competition opens on 27 March 2020.

The deadline for submitting compositions is 29 October 2022.

By 1 May 2023, the jury will choose 2 concertos for organ and symphony orchestra, 2–4 works for chamber orchestra and organ and 2–6 solo organ works that will be given their first public performances in 2024.