The European Grand Prix for Choral Singing (in French, Grand Prix Européen de Chant Choral, commonly abbreviated as European Choral Grand Prix or EGP) is an annual choral competition between the winners of six European choral competitions. It was inaugurated in 1989.
Despite its name, the EGP is not limited to European choirs; this is because choirs from any country can join the choral competitions in any of the EGP’s member-cities. As of 2007, one choir from Japan and three choirs from the United States have won the EGP, while a choir from the Philippines has won the EGP twice. In addition, the contest is not limited to adult choirs; two of the grand prize-winning choirs are children’s choirs.
As of 2015, four choirs have won the EGP twice: the Philippine Madrigal Singers (1997 and 2007), APZ Tone Tomšič (2002 and 2008), Jauniesu koris “Kamer…” (2004 and 2013) and University of Utah Chamber Choir (renamed from the University of Utah Singers) (2006 and 2015).
As of 2022, two conductors have won the EGP twice: Stojan Kuret, Slovenia (2002 and 2010) and Avip Priatna, Indonesia (2018 and 2022), both with two different types of choirs.
Organizing committee and member cities
The EGP is organized by the organizing committees of the following choral competitions, from which the EGP contenders are selected:
Concorso Polifónico Guido d’Arezzo (International Guido d’Arezzo Polyphonic Contest) – Arezzo, Province of Arezzo, Italy
Béla BartókInternational Choir Competition – Debrecen, Hajdú-Bihar county, Hungary
International Choral Competition Gallus Maribor – Maribor, Slovenia
Certamen Coral de Tolosa(Tolosa Choral Competition) – Tolosa, Basque Country, Spain
Florilège Vocal de Tours (Tours Vocal Competition) – Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France
International May Choir Competition «Prof. G. Dimitrov» – Varna, Varna Province, Bulgaria
Each individual contest is usually referred to by the name of its host city instead of the competition’s official title. The grand prize winners of each contest are automatically eligible to compete at the EGP.
The hosting of each annual EGP competition is rotated among the six member cities.
The European Grand Prix for Choral Singing was created in 1988 through the initiative of the competitions of AREZZO (Italy), DEBRECEN (Hungary), GORIZIA (Italy) and TOURS (France) Two others have also been associated: VARNA (Bulgaria) in 1989, and TOLOSA (Basque Country/Spain) in 1990. In 2008 Gorizia stepped out of the Association and MARIBOR (Slovenia) joined it.
As mentioned earlier, the contest is open only to the grand prize winners of the six member European choral competitions in the previous year. In other words, if a choir wins the grand prize in any of the six cities’ choral contests, it is eligible for then next year’s EGP. Consequently, this also means that, unlike other choral competitions, the EGP does not solicit participants to the contest; no choir may directly apply or audition in order to join the EGP. If an eligible choir backs out, a substitute choir may take its place; as a penalty, any choir that backs out will not be eligible to compete in any of the six qualifying contests for the next year.
As soon as a choir has been qualified by one of the Competition members, it cannot be qualified again in the same year by another Competition member.
Repertoire and choir membership
Each competing choir is required to sing in the same group/category as they performed in respective competitions. Choirs are encouraged to perform songs from various eras and composers. Songs with accompaniment (by any instrument) are allowed as long as the total length of accompanied songs does not exceed ten (10) minutes. The host city determines the total maximum performance time allowed to each finalist.
Each competing choir is also required to have the same number of singers it had from the qualifying competition, plus or minus ten percent (10%) of that number. The total number of singers per choir may be a minimum of 12 singers and a maximum of 60 singers regardless of the number of voice sections or groups; this is because the eligibility requirements vary for each of the six qualifying competitions. Because of this, it is possible for mixed-voice choirs to compete directly against all-male and all-female choirs; it is also possible for children’s choirs to compete against adult choirs (and even win, as in 2000 and 2001).
The grand prize winner
The EGP grand prize winner, or laureate, is awarded a diploma, a trophy and additional prizes to be determined by the host city, including a cash prize of up to 4,000 € (usually awarded).
The EGP winner is not allowed to compete in any international choral competition, member of the European Grand Prix Association, for two years.