Bruce Lindsay writes:
Riga, the capital city of Latvia, is European City Of Culture in 2014. It's a big year for this beautiful and friendly city and a big year, too, for Riga Jazz Stage—a competition for jazz musicians aged under 30.
The 2014 Riga Jazz Stage competition is open to vocalists and saxophonists (born after 3 April 1984). This will be the seventh competition and the organisers are keen to encourage entrants from across Europe. Entrants are asked to submit three recordings for consideration in the first round. The semi-finals and finals will take place in Riga in early April.
The 2014 competition has a total prize fund of over 6,000 euros, with 1,500 euros for the winners of each of the two categories. Additional prizes include festival performance opportunities. Twenty semi-finalists will be selected and invited to perform in Riga (10 singers, 10 saxophonists) . There's an entry fee of 80 euros and successful applicants will need to pay travel costs (Riga is easy to get to, courtesy of a variety of budget airlines). Riga Jazz Stage will provide 4-star accommodation and a quartet of backing musicians for the semi-finalists and finalists.
Riga Jazz Stage is organised by Māris Briežkalns, who also directs the Riga Jazz Festival. The judging panel for 2014 will include vocalist China Moses. The competition started in 2004 and initially ran until 2008. After a four year break it was revitalised in 2013, when it attracted applications from 30 singers. When I was at the Riga Jazz Festival earlier this year I met and heard three of the finalists including the winner, Lithuanian vocalist Laura Budreckyte, and Danijel Cacija from Croatia.
Riga Jazz Stage isn't the biggest competition of its kind, but the feedback I got from last year's contestants suggests that it's a friendly and supportive one. There's a growing audience of all ages for jazz in the Baltic states: for British musicians the region could offer some fruitful contacts and collaborations.
More information and application form HERE