Maj Lind -kilpailun internet- ja wap-sivustot avataan 16.5.2007.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Q Would it be possible for the jury to announce the judging criteria before the competition already? The contestants would then know beforehand what the judges are particularly looking for and want to hear.

A Generally speaking the competition prospectus tells the contestants beforehand what the jury are looking for. In the Paulo, for example, they are clearly looking for a player with solo tendencies who will do well with different orchestras and conductors. The very strain of having to play three different concertos is a test of endurance, and this is something the performing artist needs.

Q Why wasn’t the Haydn D major concerto a compulsory work? It would give a good picture of the player’s maturity.

A The contestants have been given a great opportunity to express their personal traits in the Paulo Cello Competition this time. This is very evident from the fact that they were given a large number of concertos from which to choose for the semi-finals and finals. This adds a new dimension to the competition, which is undoubtedly a fine thing. It is, I’m sure, also much more audience-friendly than hearing the same concerto six times. The contestants’ maturity becomes evident in this competition at the latest when they have to rehearse and perform three different concertos in the space of one week.

Q One thing I’ve noticed in this competition is that a surprising number have the music in front of them – more than in the violin competition. Is playing from music somehow more common and hence generally accepted among cellists?

A Playing from music or not is often a personal preference. In chamber works, particularly, such as sonatas, it is often recommended for the simple reason that the pianist plays from music. It’s a question of equality between the instruments. More soloistic works, such as concertos, should be played from memory, but there’s nothing wrong in playing from music. Players often have the music in front of them for contemporary works as well.

Q Is it difficult to get the breathing rhythm right in playing the cello? Sometimes you can hear the player gasping right up in the back row. Can the teacher intervene on this?

A This is another very personal matter. If the breathing is extremely disturbing, the teacher will undoubtedly point it out and try to work something out with the pupil. These are, however, personal traits in artists and may be difficult to control. Some can even be heard muttering or humming. Breathing is nevertheless part of the music. It should support the player’s phrasing. If the music quickens, so do the pulse and breathing.

Q The ages of the players in the competition differ greatly. Are the judging criteria the same for all the players, or does the young player’s “potential” count for more than that of an older contestant?

A No difference should be made between young and older players within the age limits stated in the competition rules.

Q Why do you not show all the performances of all the contestants on the net? Presumably they are all recorded or videoed, and technically it would not be very difficult to make all the performances available. Does the competition organisation limit the amount of material on the net (in order to be sure of a live audience), or is it a question of performing fees or copyright?

A: As I understand it, the main problem is precisely copyright. The Internet is such a new medium for these services that no agreements exist between YLE and the copyright organisations covering every aspect. I’m told that this will, however, be changing. The rule at the moment is that if a composer died less than 70 years ago, the organiser has to pay copyright fees. Digitising all the material would, furthermore, presumably also be an enormous job in terms of working hours and would greatly delay the posting of clips on the net. When the site was being planned before the competition, one of the primary goals was to show as much video and audio material as possible. And because the technology already exists, we may in the future be able to follow all the performances in a competition live over the Internet.


Q: Does the order of performance really make much difference? Is it particularly good or bad to play first or last?

A: Assuming that you’re properly prepared to perform at any time, and that you feel good just before the start of the competition (the day the lots are drawn), to my mind the main thing is simply to get the show on the road and the first round over as quickly as possible. Rather than having to wait three whole days. While you’re waiting, you inevitably start thinking about all sorts of things that disturb your concentration. Some may have difficulty sleeping at times like this, and that may in turn affect their performance.

Andreas BrantelidAndreas Brantelid

There may be vast differences between contestants, in whether, for example, they’re in perfect playing trim at 10 am in the morning. Because concerts are normally in the evening, when the state of your muscles is quite different from in the morning. For me it may, for example, be difficult to play in a relaxed way in the morning.

The presence or absence of an audience may also influence the performer’s mood. There is often a smaller audience in the morning than in the evening. And it’s always nicer playing to a decent audience that will, you hope, enjoy the performance. But whatever the luck of the draw, even if you have to play at three in the morning, a competition is a competition and the draw was conducted fairly. So forget the pointless speculations and get up on stage!

Q: Which are the most important and most prestigious cello competitions in Finland and elsewhere in the world? And who have been the winners in recent years?

A: The following are, to my mind, the most important international cello competitions at the moment and the only national one in Finland, the Turku Cello Competition. Naturally the International Paulo Cello Competition belongs among the leading world competitions. I have also listed the winners of the previous competitions.

Rostropovich Competition 2005, Paris
1. Marie-Elisabeth Hecker
2. Julian Steckel
3. Giorgi Kharadze

Pablo Casals Competition 2004, Kronberg
1. László Fenyő
2. Giorgi Kharadzé
3. Julian Steckel

Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann 2006, Kronberg
1. Danjulo Ishizaka
2. Gavriel Lipkind
3. Jing Zhao

ARD Music Competition 2005, Munich
1. Jing Zhao
2. Alexander Bouzlov
3. Alexander Chaushian

International Paulo Cello Competition 2002, Helsinki
1. Enrico Bronzi
1. Rafal Kwiatkowski
2. Young-Hoon Song
3. (shared) Chui-Yee Lee and Renaud Déjardin

Turku National Cello Competition 2006, Turku
1. Samuli Peltonen
2. Johannes Rostamo
3. Tuomas Lehto

Turun sellokilpailun voittajat 2006Winners of Turku National Cello Competition 2006


Q: Could one of the experts please give a short history of the cello?

A:The cello is an instrument found mainly in Western classical music. It features in symphony orchestras and string quartets and often in other chamber ensembles, too. Countless concertos and sonatas have been composed for it. The cello is relatively rare in popular music.

Documents exist to prove that the cello already existed in 1546, when it was reported as having three strings, but it had acquired a fourth string by the early 17th century at the latest. The strings are tuned in fifths so that the lowest is nowadays C (C-G-D-A). But in the 17th-18th centuries, above all in France, the lowest was B flat. The cello was also an accompanying instrument, until Domenico Gabrielli began composing solo pieces for it in late 17th century Italy. Vivaldi and Bach were also enchanted by its sound.

The large instruments were clumsy and used to accompany, while solo pieces were played on small ones. The cello also underwent experiments. Instruments with five strings were common at the beginning of the 18th century. The extra string was tuned to E and was the highest one. This meant reducing the size of the instrument, otherwise the top string would have snapped. This instrument was called a violoncello piccolo. It was for an instrument such as this that Bach composed his 6th suite, and he used it in several of his cantatas of the Leipzig period. He was immensely interested in instrument making and worked in close collaboration with the Leipzig maker Johann Christian Hoffmann. Together they developed an instrument called a viola pomposa; this was such a small cello that it could even be held on the arm. The pomposa became fashionable both in Saxony and in the Czech lands.

Whereas viols were played by the nobility, violins, violas and cellos were popular with the lower strata of society because their sound was suitable for accompanying dancing. They were also easier to tune and carry about.

While I cannot really call myself an expert on the subject, I hope my answer was sufficiently thorough.


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