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The Queen Sonja International Music Competition


The 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 first two competitions 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. The Queen Sonja International Music Competition is a leading high-level voice competition, which now takes place every second year in Oslo with singers from all over the world. The goal of the Competition is to assist the career development of talented young singers. It also acts as a bridge builder between the Norwegian and international music scenes.

The Competition offers young artists a valuable kick-start to their careers. The Competition gives possibilities for exposure to an international jury of influential and highly acclaimed casting directors, opera directors and singers, masterclasses, considerable cash prizes, prizewinner concerts and other important concert engagements. Several previous participants can document a significant career development and international recognition following the Competition.

Fact file
Deadline01 Apr 2019
Finals13 - 23 Aug 2019
WhereOslo, Norway
Age groupsEveryone after 1 January 1987
HM Queen Sonja of Norway awarding Audun Iversen first prize at the QSIMC in 2007 © Trygve Schønfelder

Audun Iversen on winning the QSIMC in Oslo

“I have never been that nervous! Not before or since!” says Norwegian baritone Audun Iversen about his appearance in the final round of the 2007 Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Oslo. The aria he was about to sing – “Da geh’ ich zu Maxim” from The Merry Widow – was familiar enough, but before this competition he had only performed it in a Danish translation.

  • First Prize: € 50.000
  • Second Prize: € 10.000
  • Third Prize: € 5.000
  • Two Finalist Prizes: € 1.500
  • Lied Prize: € 1.500

The Ingrid Bjoner Scholarship (awarded to the best Norwegian participant): NOK 100.000

The First Prize winner will also receive a diploma and original artwork made by HM Queen Sonja. The Second and Third Prize winners will receive a diploma with a print of HM Queen Sonja’s original artwork. QSIMC prizewinners will also be offered engagements as soloists in our prizewinner concerts.

Competition events

Queen Sonja Competition: Preliminary Rounds

Contestants of the Queen Sonja International Music Competition, Vocals

Queen Sonja Competition: Semi-Final

Contestants of the Queen Sonja International Music Competition, Vocals

Queen Sonja Competition: Prize winner concert with Mélissa Petit

Mélissa Petit; Sveinung Bjelland

Queen Sonja Competition: Final Concert

Norwegian National Opera Orchestra; Contestants of the Queen Sonja International Music Competition
Competition essentials

Rules and application procedures

Applications are welcome from all singers born after 1 January 1987. All applicants must apply using the electronic application form made available via the QSIMC website once applications open.

A screening jury evaluates all valid applications based on the submitted video footage. The repertoire must include two operatic arias, indicated on the application form. The arias may, but do not have to, be part of the competition repertoire. They must be of contrasting styles and performed with piano or orchestral accompaniment. Total playing time should not exceed 10 minutes. Successful applicants will be notified in April/May 2019.

Candidates participating in the 2019 Competition must be present in Oslo for registration on the 13th of August 2019. Registration closes at 16:00. Participants must be available to participate in all stages of the Competition up to and including the 23rd of August 2019. Participants should also be available for the Competition’s prizewinner concert in Bergen 3 October 2019.

The Competition takes place in two rounds and a finale. In the first round (preliminary), which runs over two days, around 40 candidates will be invited to participate. 12 candidates will be selected for the second round (semifinal), which runs over one day. Five candidates will be selected to perform in the final concert at the spectacular Norwegian National Opera & Ballet on Oslo’s waterfront. HM Queen Sonja will award the prizes.

The jurors will vote independently after each round and may not discuss the performances before or during the voting procedure. They will be issued with a ballot with names of all the candidates performing in the round, as well as the repertoire lists of all the candidates. The moderator collects all votes after each round and checks that the ballot is properly signed by the juror. The moderator and an assistant count the votes and calculates the result. Participating candidates will be provided with free hotel accommodation in Oslo for as long as they remain in the Competition. Candidates must book and pay for their own travel to and from Oslo.

Piano accompanists will be provided by the Competition for the preliminary round and semifinal. Candidates are free to bring their own accompanists if they prefer. Practice rooms are available free of charge to participants at the Norwegian Academy of Music. Up to 12 candidates in total may be nominated by the Competition’s participating opera academies. These candidates will be admitted directly to the preliminary rounds in Oslo. To achieve a good geographical spread amongst the contestants, no more than four candidates of any one nationality will be admitted to the preliminary rounds. This does not include any candidates nominated by the Competition’s participating opera academies.

All rounds of the Competition in Oslo are open to the public. The entrance fee (application fee) is €90. Successful candidates who are invited to Oslo will be required to confirm their acceptance by transferring €200 to the Competition’s bank account. The applicant will be accepted officially as a contestant when the Competition receives this fee and the requested sheet music for the preliminary rounds and the semifinal. €100 will be returned to candidates upon registration in Oslo. Candidates are invited to compile their own individual list of arias and art songs/lieder to be performed in the competition. Each applicant's choice of work for the preliminary rounds and semifinal must be submitted with the application form. The pieces presented in these two rounds cannot be the same. To find out more about repertoire requirements, go here.