JURY 2017

Javier BUSTO (Basque Country) – president

He was born in Hondarribia (Spain) in 1949. He obtained his degree in Medicine and Surgery in the University of Valladolid. He began his journey in the field of choral music with master Erwin List. Between 1971 and 1976, he conducted the Coro Ederki in Valladolid (consisting of Basque students). He founded and conducted the Eskifaia Abesbatza in Hondarribia (1978-1994). He founded and conducted the Kanta Kantemus Koroa in Gipuzkoa (1995-2007). With those three choirs, he has won the 1st Prize in contests in Avilés, Ejea de los Caballeros and Tolosa (Spain); Tours (France); Gorizia (Italy); Mainhausen and Marktoberdorf (Germany), and Spittal an der Drau (Austria). His choral works have been published in Germany, USA, France, Japan, United Kingdom, Sweden and the Basque Country. He was awarded the Golden Insignia in his hometown of Hondarribia (1999) and the Award of the Orfeon Donostiarra-University of the Basque Country (2012).


For many years, Stephen Connolly was a bass singer and co-director of the world famous vocal ensemble The King\’s Singers. He interpreted over 120 concerts per year for nearly a quarter century, appeared frequently in both radio and TV shows, and recorded many CDs with EMI, BMG Records, Signum Records and Sony –including three Grammy Award nominations and a Grammy Award. More recently, he has acted as a judge in several contests and has taught many choral workshops. In 2008, Stephen founded the International A Cappella School, which offers international residences for singers and choirs. In 2010, Stephen was appointed Head of Vocal Studies of the Cheltenham Ladies’ College. He lives in Gloucestershire.

Georg GRÜN (Germany)

Georg Grün is considered to be one of the most sought-after international choral conductors and specialists for choral sound. He founded the KammerChor Saarbrücken in 1990 and has been its artistic director ever since then. He has won important international and national choir competitions, he gives concerts at numerous renowned music festivals and he regularly produces CDs with CarusVerlag and Rondeau Productions. From 2000 until 2012 he held a professorship for choral conducting at the Musikhochschule in Mannheim. There, he founded a chamber choir with which he also won several international prizes. In 2012, Georg Grün changed to the Hochschule für Musik Saar as a professor and became artistic direction of the Ev. Chorgemeinschaft an der Saar.   Georg Grün works as guest conductor guest professor, juror and tutor at international masterclasses for choral conducting both nationally and internationally. He is a mentor at the forum for conductors of the German Music Council and Chairman at the international jury of the chamber choir competition in Marktoberdorf. In 2017 concerts, lectures, master classes and guest performances will take him to Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the United States.

Stojan KURET (Slovenia)

He was born in Trieste (Italy). He is a graduate of the Music Academy at the University of Ljubljana and obtained his Piano Degree at the Giuseppe Tartini Conservatory of Trieste, where he has been a professor since 1983. He was the artistic director of the APZ Tone Tomšič choir of the University of Ljubljana for 10 years. With that choir and the Vokalna akademija Ljubljana, he has achieved many prestigious artistic recognitions (five grand prizes –Tours 1999, Varna 2001, Gorizia 2001, Maribor 2002and Arezzo 2009–, three-time finalist and two-time winner of the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing – in 2002 in Arezzo and in 2010 in Varna). In 1984, he was honoured with the Gallus Award for his extraordinary achievements in the field of music and the Ljubljana City Award for the artistic direction of the APZ Tone Tomšič choir. He conducted the RTV Slovenia Chamber Choir (national radio and TV choir) for two years. Starting January 2007 and for two years, he conducted the Italian Youth Choir. In September 2011, he was awarded the prestigious Guidoneum Prize in Arezzo, due to the successful and creative work he has done with the Vokalna akademija Ljubljana. In 2012, he received the Prešeren Foundation Award, the highest cultural recognition of Slovenia.


He was born in Tokyo in 1962. He obtained his Composition Degree at the Kunitachi College of Music and graduated in Choral Conducting at the Kodály Institute in Hungary. His works as a music composer are interpreted in Japan and all over the world. As a conductor, he has led several choirs of the Greater Tokyo Area, and has received many awards in international choral competitions. In 2005, he was the first Asian to be recognised with the Robert Edler Prize of Choral Music.

Bengt OLLÉN (Sweden)

He studied under Gösta Ohlin and Gunnar Eriksson at the Music and Drama Academy of Gothenburg, and Orchestra Conducting under Lennart Hedvall, Jorma Panula, Robert Reynolds and Everett Lee. Bengt Ollén is Sofia Vokalensemble’s founder and conductor. Since 1995 he has led the vocal ensemble with great passion and a never-dying enthusiasm, taking the choir to the highest artistic levels. Bengt\’s vision is to create music “beyond the notes”. In his opinion, music should move the listener. Therefore, each singer’s commitment is a vital piece in the musical progress: for the music to be a success, everybody must participate. That is Bengt’s musical belief. Bengt is also the founder and conductor of the Södra Dalarnas Chamber Orchestra. This orchestra participates yearly in the “Musik vid Slijan” festival. Bengt is frequently engaged as a judge in contests, as a guest lecturer and conductor in festivals, workshops and concerts, both at national and international levels. Since 1994 he works as a choir professor in the internationally renowned Stockholms Musikgymnasium. With his choirs, he has found remarkable success in choral contests all over the world.

Alexander VATSEK (Ukraine)

Choir and orchestra conductor, vocal coach, judge at international contests, choral advisor, speaker and arranger. He is the founder of the Oreya Choir and the Gaudeamus Brno Choir (1996), and has won 10 Grand Prizes and 37 1st Prizes with them. He has been recognised as an Honorary Artist in Ukraine and honoured with the I. Ohiyenko Award. He has taught choral seminars and workshops worldwide, and has conducted symphonic projects in France, Germany, Romania, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. He has been a jury member of the Choir World Games in Busan (South Korea), Bremen (Germany), Xiamin (China) and Wernigerode (Germany). As well in Tolosa (Spain), Marktoberdorf (Germany), Maribor (Slovenia), Riva del Garda (Italy), Artek (Ukraine), Tallin (Estonia) and Bergen (Norway). In addition, he has been the choral advisor of the Czech Republic (2002-2006).