Teosto Prize 2023 given to Mikko Sarvanne, Draama-Helmi, Sanna Ahvenjärvi and Tapio Lappalainen

The 2023 Teosto Prize is awarded to three works of music. This year's prize winning works are by Mikko Sarvanne, Draama-Helmi and Sanna Ahvenjärvi and Tapio Lappalainen.

The winners of the 2023 Teosto Prize are Mikko Sarvanne’s compositions on Mikko Sarvanne Garden’s album Heräämisen valkea myrsky, Helmi Kajaste and her team’s works on Draama-Helmi’s album Draama-Helmi kuistilla and Sanna Ahvenjärvi and Tapio Lappalainen’s composition Water. Recognising bold, original and innovative works of music, the Teosto Prize is one of the biggest art prizes in the Nordic countries. Its total prize money of EUR 40,000 will be divided equally among the winning works.

The nominees and winners of the Teosto Prize were selected from Finnish works of music published or premiered in 2022. The winners of the Teosto Prize were selected from the nominees by a five-person panel of judges, which consists of the winners of the 2022 Teosto Prize Cecilia Damström, Linda Fredriksson and Yona as well as members invited by Teosto’s management team, Miikka Maunula, Yle’s Executive Producer for music programmes, and Gita Kadambi, General Director of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

“The exhilarating versatility and high quality of the Finnish music industry were once again reflected in this year’s nominees. The panel’s lively and intense discussions showed how tight the competition was this year. Fortunately, we were able to reach a clear consensus on the winners,” says Cecilia Damström, the Chair of the panel.

Beside the winners, three more works were also nominated for the prize:

  • Petra Poutanen’s compositions, lyrics and arrangements and Joonas Outakoski’s arrangements on Pelkkä Poutanen’s album Pyhä veri vuotaa
  • Nino Ensio Mofu and his team’s works on NCO’s album Addikti
  • Heinz-Juhani Hofmann’s composition and libretto in the work Aukio – ooppera kansannoususta

The nominees were chosen by a preliminary selection panel consisting of DJ and journalist Tytti Viljanen (Chair), journalist and radio host Antti Granlund, musicologist, Associate Professor and PhD Susanna Välimäki, blogger Pasi Virtanen, a.k.a. Jazzpossu, and journalists Oskari Onninen, Auli Särkiö-Pitkänen and Katri Norrlin.

The winners of the Teosto Prize were announced on 27 April.

Rationale behind the winner selection

Mikko Sarvanne Garden: ”Heräämisen valkea myrsky”

Heräämisen valkea myrsky is a light and bright mix of jazz, contemporary classical music and vocal music. Mikko Sarvanne has succeeded in creating a coherent work that combines ambient, electronics, acoustic instruments and natural elements into a universe of its own in an innovative way. The work has its own coherent sound and atmosphere that carries the listener from the beginning to the end and wraps them in its own world. The composition’s understated solutions leave room for and highlight the expressive solo parts. The vocal arrangements and the use of virtuoso cello solos as part of the whole were especially impressive.

Draama-Helmi: ”Heräämisen valkea myrsky”

On her third album, the rap and spoken word lyricist Draama-Helmi reaches a state of freedom and creative expression that is vital for an artist and in which a world reminiscent of Federico García Lorca’s poetry meets true-crime podcasts in a new and unprecedented way. In the listener’s world, everything else disappears and the experience becomes magical as Draama-Helmi sits in front of a campfire telling stories about depression, youth and self-esteem with her special brand of humour. The compositions provide excellent support for the lyrics that challenge the norms of rap.

Sanna Ahvenjärvi and Tapio Lappalainen: "Water"

Water is a coherent and visual work of contemporary classical music, in which water moves in its different states, in swirls and waves. Even though water is a classic theme for composers of classical music, Water’s tonal structure is original and imaginative. The effects, such as instruments and microphones immersed in water, complement the music composed for more traditional orchestra instruments in a way that feels natural. The work uses artistic methods to highlight the topical issue of the state of our environment with its audience.

The purpose of the Teosto Prize is to annually recognise bold, original and innovative works of music or collections of works. The works may represent any genre. With the prize, Teosto also wants to support the diversity of genres and increase appreciation for the work of music authors in society. Awarded since 2003, the Teosto Prize is one of the most noteworthy art prizes in the Nordic countries. It was now awarded for the 18th time.