The Aria Borealis competition is getting closer
For the first time at the turn of June-July in Bodø, Northern Norway, the Aria Borealis competition brings together young singers enthusiastic about baroque music. FiBO is one of the organizers of the competition, so FiBO's Executive Manager Laura Kajander got to answer a few interview questions. The first round will be held on Monday 27th of June and the second on Saturday 2nd of July. They can be followed through the live-stream. You will find the stream link here.
What is Aria Borealis?
Aria Borealis is an international baroque singing competition organized in Nordic co-operation. The organizers are the Nordic Baroque Scene and the Stormen Concert Hall in Norway. The members of the Nordic Baroque Scene Association are the Finnish Baroque Orchestra, Barokkanerne from Norway, the Drottningholm Baroque Orchestra from Sweden and Concerto Copenhagen from Denmark. The Finnish Baroque Orchestra chairs the cooperation.
Where did the idea for the competition come from?
In 2018 and 2019, the Nordic baroque orchestras carried out an extensive audience project with children and young people, led by the Finnish Baroque Orchestra's audience working group FiBO Collegium. On the other hand, the Finnish Baroque Orchestra has built networks and partnerships in various fields. It seemed natural to continue cooperating with the professional colleague orchestras in the Nordics.
After the first joint project, the basis for further cooperation was explored. It quickly became clear that networking alone was not enough, but that there was a desire for closer cooperation. One of the forms of cooperation, the singing competition was announced at the Helsinki Music Hall Musiikkitalo in the spring of 2021 and the first competition will take place in Bodø, Norway, in June 2022.
The competition differs from the more traditional singing competitions in many ways. What are the main differences?
After the pre-qualification, in which 8 singers were selected for live performances, the focus will be on the cooperation between the musicians from the Nordic baroque orchestras and the contestant, instead of the traditional solo role. The singers also receive instructions from the judges and directors on the singing, cooperation with the orchestra, and performing on stage, and can thus find new perspectives on what they are doing. Program designing skills are also assessed. All 8 singers selected for the live rounds are the winners. At Bodø, singers receive various additional prizes, such as a favorite prize for each orchestra.
Why hold a singing competition? Doesn't that require terrible amounts of work?
A great many new things require enormous work and courage. It is in the common interest of baroque orchestras to find singers for whom the way baroque orchestras approach music-making is natural. The large collaborative project will also bring a huge amount of organizational learning between the organizers, in addition to which the musicians of the orchestras will be able to make music and network with each other and the great singers. In such encounters, new perspectives on art-making can emerge, which we will certainly enjoy in the Finnish Baroque Orchestra's own concerts in the future.
How can the competition potentially benefit FiBO or be reflected in FiBO's operations?
In addition to the earlier mentioned networking, collaboration and artistic development of musicians, FiBO invites its favorites as soloists in its concerts. The orchestra’s Christmas concert is one of these.
One of the judges of the competition is Dame Emma Kirkby, one of the most famous singers in early music. How did you get her as a judge?
Dame Emma Kirkby, like other judges, was convinced of the more special racing concept idea designed by the orchestras and found the approach to their liking. The judges have been able to influence the refinement of the concept.
Have you heard the performance of your competitors yourself?
I heard recordings from some of the qualifiers. In fact, the Finnish Baroque Orchestra has performed with one of Bodø's chosen singers in a theatrical oratorio performance in Nuremberg. I look forward to hearing the actual competition performances.
Do you think the winners of the race will rise to the international stars of the future?
I haven’t heard all the participants, but I think there are several great singers among them. Perhaps the baroque orchestras are not primarily looking for solo stars according to the traditional formula, but for versatile, touching and skilled chamber music singer partners. Of course, you can also become a star through great musicianship.
Both rounds of the competition will be streamed:
Mon Jun 27, 2022 at 6 pm: Round 1, concert A
Mon Jun 27, 2022 at 9 pm: Round 1, concert B
Sat Jul 2, 2022 at 4 pm: Round 2
The links can be found on the competition Facebook page. You can read the presentations of the finalists on the competition website.