Queen Sonja International Music Competition
The Queen Sonja International Music Competition is a music competition for young singers taking place every two years in Oslo, Norway. The competition was arranged for the first time in 1988. Participants are selected by a screening committee on the basis of recordings submitted in the application process. 40 singers are invited to the competition in Oslo. The competition programme includes preliminary rounds, a semi-final and final, as well as masterclasses, career development sessions, concerts and social events.
HistoryThe Queen Sonja International Music Competition was founded in 1988. Among the initiators was Mariss Jansons, former music director and principal conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. At the time, the Norwegian classical music scene was experiencing a period of increasing internationalization. The aim of the competition was to create an international arena for music in Norway, which could present young musicians, give Norwegian soloists an opportunity to be assessed at an international level, and attract greater international focus on the Norwegian classical music scene.
The competition was created as a joint project between several leading Norwegian music institutions, including the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Norwegian Academy of Music, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), the Lindeman Foundation and the Norwegian Society for Soloists.
The first two competitions in 1988 and 1992 were organized for pianists. Marking the centenary of the birth of Norwegian soprano Kirsten Flagstad in 1995, the competition has since then been arranged for singers. Until 2007, national competitions were arranged prior to the international competition. The competition is currently arranged every two years in cooperation with the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the Norwegian Academy of Music, the Oslo National Academy of the Arts and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. The competition usually receives between 250-350 applications from singers from around the world. The invited singers are usually newly graduated singers who are ready to embark on their international careers.
The competition is a platform for providing career opportunities for young singers and acts as a stepping-stone to the professional music world for the participants. Previous prize-winners can document rapid career development and international recognition. Previous prize-winners include, among others, Argentinian soprano Virginia Tola (1999), Norwegian soprano Marita Kvarving Sølberg (2001), German tenor Daniel Behle (2005), Russian soprano Olga Mykytenko (2003), Canadian soprano Maesha Brueggergosman (2001), Norwegian baritone Audun Iversen (2007) and Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen (2015).
OrganisationThe Queen Sonja International Music Competition is organised as a non-profit foundation headed by the Board of Directors. A Council consisting of representatives from the founding institutions acts as a consultative body for the board. Current Board members are Einar Solbu (Chair), Birger Magnus, Mary Miller, Ingrid Stange and Randi Stene.
The Council currently consists of Peter Tornquist (Dean, The Norwegian Academy of Music), Toril Carlsen (National Federation of Norwegian Musical Soloists), Arild Erikstad (NRK), Tore Dingstad (Dean, Oslo National Academy of the Arts), Geir Bergkastet (The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet), Ingrid Røynesdal (director, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra), and Frederik Zimmer (The Lindeman Foundation).
Prizes1st prize: €50 000
2nd prize: €10 000
3rd prize: €5 000
Finalist prizes: €1 500
Prize for the best performance of Lied: €1 500
The Ingrid Bjoner Scholarship (awarded to the best Norwegian competitor): NOK 100 000
In addition, prize-winners receive engagements with Norwegian orchestras and opera companies.
ContributorsThe Queen Sonja International Music Competition’s main contributors are the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and the City of Oslo. The competition also receives private funding from Canica AS, Lucy Høegh Foundation, Sat Sapienti, Anders Sveaas’ Almennyttige Fond and Lindemans Legat.
Collaborating Opera AcademiesThe Queen Sonja International Music Competition collaborates with leading opera academies in Europe and the US. The collaborating academies nominate up to three of their best singers to the competition. These singers are admitted directly to the preliminary rounds of the competition in Oslo and do not have to go through the regular application procedure.
The collaborating opera academies are:
Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, Royal Opera House, London
Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Metropolitan Opera, New York
The Opera Studio, Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich
Internationales Operastudio, Opernhaus Zürich, Zürich
Young Artists Opera Programme, Bolshoi Opera, Moscow
International Opera Studio, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin
Teatro alla Scala Academy Young Artist Program, Teatro alla Scala, Milan