92 young conductors. That’s the number of applicants for this year’s Eric Ericson Award – the competition for the most talented choral conductors, in which the winner is given the opportunity to lead some of the world’s foremost professional choirs. So far, the prize has been awarded three times, and strives to achieve a high artistic and competitive level in choral conducting. Eric Ericson has been immeasurably significant to the Swedish choir scene. Now, his heritage is in the hands of a new generation of conductors.

The three semi-finalists that made it to the final of Eric Ericson Award 2021 Sunday October 24 are Krista Audere, Harry Bradford and Julia Selina Blank.

The concert will be livebroadcasted on Berwaldhallen Play. The broadcast starts at 2.15 pm with a talk about The legacy of Eric Ericson, the concert broadcast starts at 3 pm. The talk will be given in English.


dot 2021/2022





32 professional choristers make up the Swedish Radio Choir: a unique, dynamic instrument hailed by music-lovers and critics all over the world. The Swedish Radio Choir performs at Berwaldhallen, concert hall of the Swedish Radio, as well as on tours all over the country and the world. Also, they are heard regularly by millions of listeners on Swedish Radio P2, Berwaldhallen Play and globally through the EBU.

The award-winning Latvian conductor Kaspars Putniņš was appointed Chief Conductor of the Swedish Radio Choir in 2020. Since January 2019, its choirmaster is French orchestral and choral conductor Marc Korovitch, with responsibility for the choir’s vocal development.

The Swedish Radio Choir was founded in 1925, the same year as Sweden’s inaugural radio broadcasts, and gave its first concert in May that year. Multiple acclaimed and award-winning albums can be found in the choir’s record catalogue. Late 2023 saw the release of Kaspars Putniņš first album with the choir: Robert Schumann’s Missa sacra, recorded with organist Johan Hammarström.


Kaspars Putniņš is Chief Conductor of the Swedish Radio Choir since 2020, and newly appointed Chief Conductor of the Latvian Radio Choir with whom he has worked closely for more than 30 years. He was formerly Chief Conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in 2014–2021. He regularly appears with the RIAS Kammerchor, SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart, Collegium Vocale Gent, Danish National Vocal Ensemble & Choir, Netherlands Radio Choir, NDR Vokalensemble Hamburg, Chorwerk Ruhr, among others.

While Putniņš is a skilled interpreter of a wide choral repertoire, from Renaissance polyphony through to romantic music, his foremost goal has always been promoting new and outstanding choral music. He has forged close relationships with Baltic and Nordic composers including Maija Einfelde, Mārtiņš Viļums, Gundega Šmite, Toivo Tulev, Lasse Thoresen, Gavin Bryars and Andris Dzenitis. He has also initiated several drama projects in collaboration with visual and theatre artists, and has worked extensively with young singers and conductors, including as Artistic Director of the Tenso Europe Chamber Choir in 2013–2017.

Autumn 2023 saw the release of Putniņš’ first album recording with the Swedish Radio Choir: Robert Schumann’s Missa sacra and Vier doppelchörige Gesänge, recorded with Swedish organist Johan Hammarström. His wide-ranging discography also includes recordings of Pēteris Vasks’ Māte saule, Jonathan Harvey’s The Angels, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil and Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Choir. His recording with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir of Schnittke’s Psalms of Repentance and Arvo Pärt’s Magnificat and Nunc dimittis was awarded both the Gramophone Award and Diapason d’Or in 2018.

Kaspars Putniņš has been awarded two of Latvia’s foremost awards for his musicianship: the Grand Music Prize Lielā mūzikas balva and the Council of Ministers Award for Achievements in Culture and Science. For his contributions to Estonian music life as Chief Conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, he was awarded the Cultural Endowment of Estonia’s Annual Award in 2019. Putniņš grew up in Riga, Latvia, and was only 26 years old when he was first hired as conductor of the Latvian Radio Choir.


Krista Audere is a Latvian choir conductor based in Amsterdam. She is regularly engaged as a rehearsal director and conductor at Cappella Amsterdam, Nederlands Kamerkoor and the Netherland’s Radio Choir. In addition to studies at the Conservatory in Riga, Krista Audere has studied choral conducting in Amsterdam and Stuttgart. As a singer, she has collaborated with the Latvian Radio Choir and Cappella Amsterdam.


Harry Bradford is a British choir conductor based in London. He is the co-founder and director of the professional vocal ensemble Recordare. He has visited, for example, Le Choeur de L’Orchestre de Paris and the Royal Academy of Music Chamber Choir. He heads the Thames Philharmonic Choir, the North Herts Guild of Singers and the Stanmore Choral Society. Harry Bradford has studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London.


Julia Selina Blank is a German choir conductor based in Oslo, Norway. She is regularly engaged as a guest conductor with the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir and the Bergen Cathedral Choir in Norway, as well as visiting choirmaster of the Norwegian Soloist Choir, Bavarian Radio’s Choir, MDR in Leipzig and the Swedish Radio Choir in Stockholm. Julia Selina Blank has studied choir conducting in Munich, Stockholm and Oslo.

Helene Stureborg är en svensk dirigent och organist. Hon studerade kyrkomusik vid Stora Sköndal 1983–1985. Därefter studerade hon vid Kungliga Musikhögskolan i Stockholm och avlade organistexamen 1989 samt diplom i kördirigering 1993. Lärare i dirigering var bland andra Gustav Sjökvist, Eric Ericson och Kjell Ingebretsen. Parallellt med olika tjänster som började Stureborg 1990 som musiklärare vid Stockholms Musikgymnasium. Under många år var hon huvuddirigent för den storslagna Luciakonserten i Globen, som framfördes under åren 1990-2011.

Mellan 1996 och 2014 arbetade Stureborg som timlärare i dirigering och ensembleledning vid Kungliga Musikhögskolan (KMH). Hösten 2002 blev hon även dirigent för Stockholms Musikgymnasiums Kammarkör (SMK), en välrenommerad ensemble vid Kungsholmens gymnasium/Stockholms Musikgymnasium. Stureborg anlitas även som dirigent och repetitör för Radiokören, Eric Ericson kammarkör och som coach och kursledare vid kör- och dirigentkurser i Sverige och utomlands.

Ella Petersson is the head of music and language at the Swedish Radio P2. Prior to this, Petersson has been the musical editor at SVT, in charge of the classical music and music documentaries, and a well-known host for several TV and radio shows.


Approximate timings

The German-speaking poet Rainer Maria Rilke, born in Prague in 1875, began his Duino Elegies in 1912 in Trieste at Duino Castle, which has lent its name to the work. However, war and an extended period of writer’s block intervened, and the poems were not finished until he went into a creative period in February 1922. Finnish composer EINOJUHANI RAUTAVAARA describes his encounter with Rilke’s poetry and the circumstances around Die erste Elegie as follows:

My youthful encounter with the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke turned out to be quite a momentous discovery, not only in literary terms but also for the development of my world view. I still associate it with the mysticism surrounding the ruins of post-war Vienna. It was there that I composed my Five Sonnets to Orpheus and two years later, in Cologne, I started writing the song cycle Die Liebenden to Rilke’s text. From that time onwards, I continued to carry with me – both mentally and in my suitcase – the Duino Elegies, Rilke’s seminal work. Over the years, I came to prefer, and find myself particularly drawn to, the first elegy, whose angel figure took on the role of a personal ‘animus’.* My orchestral works Angels and Visitations, Angels of Dusk and Playgrounds for Angels are all musical embodiments of that figure.
     However, only as recently as in 1993, when the international choral body, Europa Cantat, wanted to commission a large-scale work from me, did I feel that the time was ripe for an angel elegy. It had evidently matured in my subconscious in the interim, since the process of composing the work was swift, eager and fluently self-assured.

An elegy is really a lament, and this holds true for Rilke’s elegies as well, a lament over the weak, divided and limited creature that man is. And the angel being invoked is not a Christian angel, but a higher being that has completed the transformation that we humans are currently undergoing. The Duino Elegies, with the aim of countering the dehumanisation that may happen as a consequence of new discoveries and technologies, have been cited frequently – including in popular culture – and are seen as one of the most important collection of poems in the 20th century. Likewise, Rautavaara’s composition has become one of the leading choral works.

*) In Jungian psychology, Animus represent the male aspects of the female soul.

Text: Karin Ekedahl

Einojuhani Rautavaara

Born: October 9, 1928, in Helsinki.

Died: July 27, 2016, in Helsinki.

Education: Studies in composition under Aarre Merikanto at the Sibelius Academy, recommended by Sibelius himself for studying under Vincent Persichetti at the Juilliard School in New York and under Roger Sessions and Aaron Copland in Tanglewood, Massachusetts.

Works: Eight very varied symphonies (no. 7 Angel of Light a global success), orchestral works such as Angels and Visitations, Isle of Bliss and Before the Icons, a number of concertos (Cantus Arcticus, three piano concertos, two cello concertos, the double bass concerto Angel of Dusk), his break-through with A Requiem in Our Time for brass ensemble, two piano sonatas, chamber music, essential choir productions, nine operas, such as the biographical works Vincent, Aleksis Kivi and Rasputin.

He holds the Finnish record in intensive care treatment: An aneurysm in 2004 led to Rautavaara being in intensive care for close to six months, a record that probably would hold up internationally as well. After that, he was able to resume composing until complications following a hip operation took his life twelve years later.

Based on a yoik by Johan Märak) with solo by Magnus Sjögren.

Approximate concert lenght: 2 hours and 30 min, including intermission