The Aria Borealis Baroque Singing Competition is designed by the members of the Nordic Baroque Scene to be an event for musicians among musicians. Instead of inviting candidates just to be eliminated one by one until one final winner is announced, the jury declares several winners already after the initial round of video submissions. This creates a more relaxed and constructive atmosphere for exploring and performing music together with the musicians from the four orchestras of the Nordic Baroque Scene.
Within this unique collaborative setting, the contestants also receive coaching from the members of the jury, which includes some of leading capacities on the Early Music scene. Jury members in 2022 in Bodø were, amongst others, soprano Dame Emma Kirkby, soprano Tuuli Lindeberg, conductor/harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen, stage director Stefan Herheim, and tenor Anders J. Dahlin.
The first live round of the competition consists of rehearsals and a concert with a chamber ensemble assembled from the Nordic Baroque Scene. Here, as throughout the competition, contestants collaborate and take guidance from members of the four orchestras and receive coaching from the jurors. Additionally, each contestant prepares and performs a folk song from their homeland. The results are performed over the course of two concerts.
In the second round, the contestants compete in teams and act together in short scenes from a Baroque opera, oratorio or cantata with full orchestra and stage direction.
In both rounds, audience members vote for their favourite performance online. The concerts are streamed, but for the local audience all rehearsals, workshops, and concerts are open to the public.
In addition to the prize money, the winners are invited to perform with the partner ensembles in their concert series, festivals or in joint projects.
The next competition will take place in Helsinki in 2025.