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#jazzcomp The winners of the 4th Jazz Comp Graz have been announced!

4. Ausgabe Jazz Comp Graz am 18. Juni 2021 im MUMUTH; Foto: Johannes Gellner

As a hybrid event on the internet and with audience at the venue, the final concert of the Jazz Comp Graz was successfully held on June 18th 2021, at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz (KUG). The ten finalists and the international jury joined the event at the MUMUTH live or via Zoom. The lucky winner of the evening was Joan Pérez-Villegas. The Spanish composer won not only the first prize, he was also the winner of the audience prize, for which both the audience in the hall and the online audience worldwide could vote via online voting.

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In this competition, initiated for the fourth time by the Jazz Institute of the KUG, the top young Europe-based jazz composers faced an international jury of top-class experts. The jury members were John Hollenbeck (US), Jim McNeely (US), and Jörg Achim Keller (DE), chaired by Ed Partyka (US/AT).

From 72 compositions by composers from 26 nationalities, 10 composers were nominated for the final round. Their compositions were performed for the first time by the KUG Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Reinhard Summerer.

Prize winners 2020/21 at a glance

1. prize: Joan PÉREZ-VILLEGAS, Spain -> The Properties Of Rubber

Biography Joan Pérez-Villegas
Born in Majorca, Joan Pérez-Villegas studied classical and contemporary percussion in Barcelona. Through his musical profession, he worked on a wide range of artistic projects. Among them, one can refer to his experience in symphonic music, chamber music, and jazz ensembles, as well as in music theatre, dance-, popular-, and folk music.
In 2020 he released his debut album “Salvatge” as band-leader and composer with his own octet. Joan Pérez -Villegas currently lives in Switzerland, where he works as a freelance composer, percussionist, music teacher, and choir director. He is also continuing his composition studies by Django Bates, Martin Streule, and Stefan Schultze.

2. prize: Henri LYYSAARI, Finland -> The Tide Turns

Biography Henri Lyysaari
The Finnish composer and pianist Henri Lyysari is a professional expert on music and theatre. He has a master’s degree in jazz composition from the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. He studied there by Vellu Halkosalmi, Kari ”Sonny” Heinilä, Tapani Länsiö and Jukkis Uotila.
Lyysari won the 2nd prize in the Markku Johansson competition 2018 with his work “Uneni” written for the symphony orchestra. His music has been performed by numerous prominent orchestras, including the Sibis Alumni Big Band and the Sointi Jazz Orchestra.
After his first participation in the Jazz Comp Graz 2017, the international audience of the 2021 edition could enjoy Lyysari's composition, live from MUMUTH.

3. prize: Markus NEUWIRTH, Austria -> Time To Roll The Credits

Biography Markus Neuwirth
Born in 1996 in Austria, Markus Neuwirth studied jazz piano by Olaf Polziehn at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree with honours. Neuwirth is currently studying his master's studies in Graz. During his studies, he discovered the passion for composition and arrangement. Therefore, he took lessons by Ed Partyka, Johannes Berauer, Michael Abene, and Bernhard Lang in classical harmony.
In his efforts to create music that is characterized by sound technical knowledge and a range of musical traditions, Neuwirth does not set himself any stylistic boundaries. He aims to perfect his skills in both jazz and classical composition.

Special Award for Female Composers: Suzan VENEMAN, The Netherlands -> Into Eternity

Biography Suzan Veneman
The Dutch trumpeter Suzan Veneman can unquestionably be regarded as a rising star of the jazz scene. Since completing her master’s degree at Rutgers University (USA) in 2014, she has also taken the Dutch scene by storm as a composer.
Veneman was a finalist in the ASMAC Big Band Composers and Arrangers Competition in Los Angeles (the USA, 2014) and the Jazz Comp Graz 2017. Writing music for small and large jazz ensembles forms a significant element of her musical work. She is the bandleader, composer and arranger of her quintet and sextet.
Susan Veneman is deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. The inspiring composer combines this rich musical tradition with elements from a wide range of musical genres, such as soul, funk and fusion.

Audience Award: Joan PÉREZ-VILLEGAS, Spain -> The Properties Of Rubber

About Jazz Comp Graz

With the competition for contemporary jazz composition JAZZ COMP GRAZ and its live acts, the Jazz Institute of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz sets a triennial highlight in the lively and pioneering jazz scene in Graz.

The Jazz Institute of the KUG played a major role in making Graz a hot spot for jazz music in Austria. Since its foundation in 1965, the institute - as one of the first European jazz education centres - has enjoyed a worldwide reputation and appreciation with its study programme and its graduates.