Jury Competition

We can enjoy a lot of competitions in the field of the arts. In each of these competitions there is a different kind of rationale about how to judge the performances of candidates. The composition and competence of the members of the jury are of particular importance. We all tend to agree on this. However, the basic aim or direction of the competition needs to be defined or even redefined from time to time. Some perceive a competition useless if for example nobody takes notice of the results or the event. A good fight or drama within the jury helps to attract attention to it even if candidates suffer at times. The Belgian Music competition „Concour de la Reine Elisabeth“ has an annual major competition of young musicians competing for the beginning of a career as soloist. All phases of the competition are up for streaming so we all can watch and form our own opinions on the many candidates. It is not just the solo performance which counts but also the team performance with orchestra and the openness to new compositions in the realm of classical music. There is no vote of the public (yet?) like in the widely followed „European song contest“ but public acclaim does not leave a jury unmoved I believe. Tough work for jurors to single out small differences of fairly high standards to even enter the competition. The success of a jury has probably another evaluation criteria which consists in the follow up of candidates 5 or 10 years after the event or the awards. The making or destroying of careers as solo performers might hinge on very small differences on a single day. One competition with several prizes awarded is an encouraging way to promote musicians or other artists.

Concours de la Reine Elisabeth 2024 RTBF

Books

Some say, a book is a book, is a book. This is to reiterate the lasting effect a printed volume might have. Many books are a form of a documentation of facts. Creative writing in whatever form finds most of the time some way into a format of a book. For centuries books have facilitated the diffusion of myths and stories throughout societies including translated versions of the content. 2 aspects are constituent here (1) form and (2) content. Annual book fairs receive most attention for new content within more or less the same rectangular format. There are, nevertheless, interesting variations of the form to be discovered as well. Traditionally book binding was the art that gave shapes to the content. Images in form of film are yet another representation of the book content. All this is “dealt” with at the Frankfurt book fair #fbm23, particularly in form of dealing in and with copyrights. New forms of delivery of content, online or as e-book, have added to the variety of books. Pay as you go or as abonnement with monthly delivery is the old and maybe fashionable new way to digest abundant content. People trust in books. The format as book in general seems to remain an authoritative form to present content, irrespective of the truthful or fictional kind of the content. The more we live in insecure circumstances, the more we tend to be willing to hold on to a pile of paper nicely woven or clued. It is still a very powerful tool to guide imagination for all ages. It allows us to learn at our own rhythm as far as we are willing to go. We are, or seem to be, in control of the process as well as the likely outcome. And yet, the spice of life is the surprise. Book it.

Jury

The are many forms of a jury. In many judicial processes a jury accompanies judges or the president of a jury in the preparing and voting on the verdict. In sports competitions or arts contests it is also common practice to have a jury of several persons to assist in the decision-making process. In academia we are also used to sit on juries to award Ph.Ds or academic positions or fundings. From famous film festivals (Cannes or Berlin) we know the tricky part to select jury members and supervise the proceedings of the jury to follow the official rules of how to accord prices according to a set of predefined rules. The basic proceedings are very similar irrespective of field of application, academia, film, music. Decision-making of the jury is usually based on some voting procedures, attribution of scores and summarising across jury members (to avoid or minimize the effect of corruption for example). Of course, there is a scientific literature on fallacies to avoid for juries themselves or in the selection of jury members.
The Concours Reine Elisabeth in Brussels 2023 has large jury. This year the enlarged diversity of the jury included the amazing lyric soprano Sumi Jo. The slightly more diverse jury (compared to 2018 song competition) might have contributed to the impressive participation of Asian singers in 2023. In competitions the quality of the jury has already a role in the number of international submissions you are likely to receive. Signalling diversity in the jury, therefore, is an important element of diversity of participants and probably intensifies competition through a broader reach. The winner of 2023 Baryton singer Taehan Kim performs a repertoire of Lieder and Arias in at least double the required 2 (European) languages. The impressive performances in the Demi-final with piano accompaniment and then the Final with the full Orchestra were cheered by the jury (in points) and the audiences as well. The repertoire of Taehan Kim ranges from Beethoven, Donizetti, Poulenc, Schubert, Verdi, Tschaikovsky to Schoenberg in the semi-final and from Wagner, Mahler, Korngold to Verdi in the final performance. Born in 2020, he certainly has a steep career in front of him, in addition to a potentially genetical predisposition as researchers just published in Science Advances 2023.
Praise goes to the accompanying pianist, the orchestra and the jury as well, which has encouraged diversity in applications and throughout the competition. An important training in cross-cultural competence for all performers involved. Rather than having a contest behind a curtain, for performers and/or the jury, the whole competition is an excellent piece of daring far reaching transparency of a jury’s work. Everybody online can still listen to the competition performances and judge (or train judgement) for themselves, because “the jury is still out”.