competiton announcement

The Béla Bartók International Choir Competition (BBCC) was founded in 1961 and is today one of the most prestigious choir competitions in the world. As such, it aspires to exhibit high-quality, contemporary a cappella choir pieces. The choir competition comprises five categories, each of which feature two rounds. The organisers of the event offer accommodation with a half-board package for choirs wishing to participate. The choir which wins the Grand Prize will have the opportunity to compete in the finals of the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing which is to be held in 2021. Folklore nights, church performances and joint singing events all serve as adjuncts to the choir competition. Guests will also be given the opportunity to attend the finals of the 2020 European Grand Prix for Choral Singing, an event which is to be hosted by the city of Debrecen.

Debrecen, the fort of modern choir music, awaits you!

Béla Bartók 29th International Choir Competition and Folklore Festival
8-12th July 2020, Debrecen, Hungary

1. Aims and purposes of the Competition

• to present and perform pieces of contemporary choral music in an intelligible and convincing way
• to popularize high-level collective singing and vocal folk music
• to encourage the relationship between contemporary music and the general public as well as to extensively familiarize the values of choral music
• to promote the meeting of composers and choral artists of different nationalities
• to support the international publicity of the cultural wealth of Debrecen

2. Terms and conditions of participation

The Béla Bartók 29th International Choir Competition is open to both amateur and professional choirs. Choirs may enter the competition in maximum two categories, moreover are welcome to participate in the accompanying folklore festival.
Singers who might be members of several choirs are only allowed to sing in one ensemble in each category of the contest.

Choirs may enter the competition in the following categories, with the number of members and age-limits indicated below:

Category Age limit Number of
Children’s ChoirsMaximum age limit:
15 years*
(born after 8th July 2005)
max. 50 singers
Youth ChoirsMaximum age limit:
21 years*
(born after 8th July 1999)
Youth Equal Voices: max. 50 singers
Youth Mixed Choirs: max. 50 singers
Equal Voices
(Female and Male Choirs)
In case of Female Choirs, the minimum age: 18
(born before July 8th 2002)
max. 40 singers
Vocal Ensembles / Chamber Choirs xVocal Ensembles: max. 12 singers
Chamber Choirs:
16–24 singers
Mixed Choirs xmin. 25,
max. 50 singers

*10% of the number of singers in a choir may be 1 year older at the most

The Artistic Committee reserves the right to cancel any of the categories in case of fewer than three entries in the category.

3. Rules and Regulations

Only “a cappella” works may be presented at the competition. The use of an untuned percussion instrument is allowed in one piece in each round of the competition as long as it can be considered as an integral part of a given piece and its use is indicated in the score submitted. Even in such cases a previous approval from the Artistic Committee is also required. (The competition for the Grand Prize is an exception to this rule. See Chapter 5 of the Competition Announcement)
The competition consists of a semi-final and a final round. In each round, competitors must present one compulsory piece and a selection of optional works (free choice). In both the semi-finals and the finals the competing choirs must start their programme by performing the compulsory work, followed by the optional pieces. (For time limits of the programme see Chapter 3.3)

3.1 Compulsory pieces

In both the semi-final and the final rounds of each category, a set piece – written by a Hungarian composer – is to be performed.

Note: Click the author’s name to obtain information about the piece!


Semi-finalsMiklós Kocsár: Csili-csali nóták
II. Áll a ladik… III. Birka-iskola
(Universal Music Publishing EMB – 8547)
FinalsEde Terényi: „…cum dulci jubilo”


Youth Equal Voices
Semi-finals Béla Bartók: Bánat (EMB 1757)
FinalsPéter Andorka: Laudate Dominum
(Universal Music Publishing EMB – 14942)
Mixed Youth Choirs
Semi-finals György Orbán: Nunc dimittis (Ars Nova – AN051)
Finals Jenő Pertis: Három szerelmes vers
I. Nehéz szívem II. Altató


Female Choirs
Semi-finals József Karai: Hodie Christus natus est
(Akkord – A-K 102)
Finals Levente Gyöngyösi: Missa Lux et Origo – Sanctus
(Kontrapunkt – K-0146)
Male Choirs
Semi-finals Sándor Szokolay: Három epigramma régi stílusban
Universal Music Publishing EMB – 13483
Finals Béla Bartók: Székely dalok – movement 2, 3, 4
Editio Musica Budapest (4675)


Semi-finals Márton Levente Horváth: Nunc dimittis (Kontrapunkt K-0080)
Finals Péter Tóth: Trois beaux oiseaux du paradis
(Kontrapunkt K-0218)


Semi-finals Ilona Meskó: Vivat, crescat, floreat!
(Universal Music Publishing EMB 14826)
Finals János Vajda: Jubilate Deo


Semi-finals Rezső Ott: Romeo’s Farewell
(Universal Music Publishing EMB – 15049)
Finals Miklós Csemiczky: Deus creator omnium
(Ars Nova – AN017)


3.2 Optional pieces

Composition of the programme:

The optional programme in both the semi-finals and the finals must contain exclusively contemporary choral works composed after 26th September 1945 (i.e. the date of Bartók’s death) with the exception of the pieces composed by Béla Bartók, which may be included in the programme irrespective of the date of composition.

It is compulsory to perform at least one composition written after 1990 in each round.
Choirs including a piece composed after 1st January, 2015 in their programme, automatically enter the competition for a special prize to be awarded for the best interpretation of a contemporary piece. (See chapter 6)

Choirs are required to perform a piece written by a foreign composer (who is not a native of their country of origin) in their optional programme.

The optional programme should facilitate the demonstration of the artistic qualities of the choirs in a complex and comprehensive way.

3.3 Time limits of the performances

The time frame (excluding the duration of applause, rearrangement) allowed for the performance of the optional programme in both rounds is as follows:
• Children’s Choirs, Youth Choirs, Equal Voices and Vocal Ensembles:
minimum 8 minutes, maximum 10 minutes,
• Chamber Choirs and Mixed Choirs:
minimum 10 minutes, maximum 12 minutes.

The compulsory piece(s) shall not be considered in the time limits specified above. (See also Jury Regulations, Chapter 2.3)

3.4 Other regulations

3.4.1. The scores of the compulsory pieces shall be sent to the choirs – in accordance with the number of participants – after their application has been accepted and the registration fee has been received

3.4.2. We wish to call your attention to copyright responsibilities. Concerning the copyright and publishing rights of the performed works, all responsibility shall rest with the individual choirs. The organisers shall not take any responsibility for any breach of such rights.

3.4.3. The compulsory as well as the optional works must be performed in the original key, with the following exceptions:

  • a different key version written by the composer,
  • the composer’s instruction or written consent referring to the same effect.

In such cases the jury must be informed in advance, at the same time provided with the composer’s instruction and the differing score version.

3.4.4. Compositions performed at the competition must be sung in the original language or in an official translation.

3.4.5. Optional works, or any movements previously performed in the programme of the semi-final may not be performed again in the finals. If a choir competes in two categories, the optional works (movements) of their choice may not be the same for both categories.

3.4.6. The order of appearance in the competition will be decided by the Organising Committee by drawing lots.

3.4.7. Changes in the submitted and accepted programme may be implemented not later than 1st March, 2020. Such changes should be approved by the Artistic Committee.

3.4.8. Conductors are kindly requested to the careful consideration of the Competition’s choral traditions with a notable past and to refrain from performing pieces that exaggerate the acoustic effects and spectacular elements.

4. Prizes of the Competition

1st prize: – 1.200 €
2ndprize: – 1.000 €
3rd prize: – 800 €
1st prize: – 1.400 €
2ndprize: – 1.200 €
3rd prize: – 1.000 €
1st prize: – 1.600 €
2ndprize: – 1.400 €
3rd prize: – 1.200 €

5. Grand Prize of the Béla Bartók 29th International Choir Competition

The Organizing Committee announces a competition for the Grand Prize of the 29th Béla Bartók International Choir Competition
The amount of the Grand Prize: 2.000 €

The conductor of the grand prize-winning choir is awarded 500 € as a special prize, at the same time gets invited to the jury of the Béla Bartók 30th International Choir Competition in 2022.

The competition for the Grand Prize is open for choirs earning the first place in their own categories. In case the winner of the given category does not wish to enter the competition or no first prize has been awarded, the choir taking the second place may compete for the Grand Prize. If a choir wins first prizes in several categories, it may enter the competition for the Grand Prize only in one category. In such case it will represent the category in which it has received a higher score of points.

Choirs are supposed to indicate their intention to enter the contest for the Grand Prize, provided they meet the necessary requirements, when applying for the competition. In such case choirs are kindly requested to submit the scores of their Grand Prize programme electronically. Official entries for the Grand Prize need to be submitted during the course of the competition, following the announcement of the results (the official announcement of a victory in the given category) in each category. The competition for the Grand Prize is held only if a minimum of three choirs have been entered.

The order of appearance in the competition for the Grand Prize shall be the following:
• Children’s Choir
• Youth Choir
• Equal voices
• Vocal Ensemble / Chamber Choir
• Mixed Choir

In the competition for the Grand Prize, a selection of works composed in the 20th and 21st centuries may be performed. The quality and the level of difficulty of the performed pieces must reflect the spirit and traditions of the Béla Bartók International Choir Competition. It is especially desirable to choose pieces written by composers from the turn of the millennium.

Choral works with musical accompaniment may also be performed in the programme for the Grand Prize but with a maximum of five instrumental participants. Only one piece or movement the choir has performed in the general competition may be repeated here with the maximum time limit of 8 minutes at the most. The conductors of the eligible choirs wishing to enter the contest for the Grand Prize must receive an approval of their programme from the Artistic Committee. Music scores of the programme shall be submitted in 11 copies.
The net time limit (“pure singing time”) for the programme is minimum 12 and maximum 15 minutes.

The winner of the Grand Prize is invited to the Competition for the “European Grand Prix for Choral Singing” held every year alternately in Arezzo, Debrecen, Maribor, Tolosa, Tours and Varna. This competition is organised for the Grand Prize winners of the six respective choir contests to compete for the European Grand Prix. The Grand Prize winner of the Béla Bartók 29th International Choir Competition will be invited to the competition for the “European Grand Prix for Choral Singing” (EGP) 2021.

6. Special prizes

A special prize for the best interpretation of a contemporary piece may be awarded to one choir for the high-quality and authentic rendering of a piece written after 1st January 2015 as part of their optional programme.

The jury may also grant additional prizes offered by cultural or musical institutions and various sponsors.

Besides competition prizes, the jury shall present a certificate to the winning choirs. All choirs participating in the competition shall receive memorial certificates.

7. International Folklore Festival

All participating choirs are welcome to sing at the concerts of the folklore festival.
Choirs are expected to perform traditional folk songs in the form of unisono or polyphonic singing, with or without instrumental accompaniment to demonstrate the living traditions of their respective countries. Modern adaptations of original folk tunes may also be presented.
Performances in national costumes would be greatly appreciated by the audience and the organizers alike.
The net time (“pure singing time”) allowed for the presentation is minimum 10 and maximum 12 minutes.
The choirs participating in the folklore festival shall be awarded folklore diplomas by the jury.

8. Concerts in churches – Musica Sacra

On the closing day of the competition (Sunday, 12th July 2020), all participating choirs are invited to sing during Church Services or Holy Masses of different religious denominations in Debrecen and its vicinity. Choirs are requested to arrange a programme of ceremonial music containing at least three short compositions.

9. Registration and Application

Applications for the Choir Competition are required to be submitted electronically as well as by mail in two steps:

9.1 Registration

Please indicate your intention to participate at the competition via email at or at our website
Besides issuing your request to participate, the registration email should also contain a short history of the choir (no more than 1200 characters).

9.2 Application

Registered choirs will be informed about their successful registration, at the same time will be provided with a detailed guideline on how to arrange and submit their competition material.

To be forwarded:

• 1 copy of application form per category (If the choir enters several categories separate application forms are required for each additional category).
• a short English introduction about the choir in a publishable quality (ca. 800-1200 characters)
• a short English introduction about the conductor of the choir in a publishable way (no more than 400 characters)
• a list of the names of those arriving (choir members, conductors, escorts)
• in the case of children’s and youth choirs, dates of birth should also be indicated
• 3 digital photos of 300 dpi about the choir in landscape format, and 2 digital photos about the conductor(s)
• the scores of the optional pieces in 5 copies each (bound and arranged in the order of performance), with the following data: composer’s name, date of birth, year of composition and the pure singing time of the piece
• a minimum 15-minute-long recording of an a cappella programme of contemporary choral works (all good quality audio formats are accepted) from the last one year of the choir.
• a short English description of the contents of the optional pieces
Application materials will not be returned to the participants; they will be retained for documentary reasons.

Optional appendix:

To promote the competition and the choirs, short, introductory videos are warmly welcome to allow the audience to get to know the participating groups before the competition starts. The promo materials submitted or shared via the internet may introduce the choirs even in an informal, funny way, thus providing the audience with the peculiarities of each ensemble. Why don’t you make use of this promotional opportunity? The materials of each registered choir will automatically be uploaded on our home page and on our social networking pages. The most gripping ones will even be awarded.

Application deadline for the Béla Bartók 29th International Choir Competition:
30th November 2019

Application material is considered valid and complete when all necessary data and attachments have fully been sent electronically and by mail not later than the application deadline.
The Organising Committee reserves the right to refuse incomplete or delayed applications.

Béla Bartók International Choir Competition
Főnix Rendezvényszervező Nonprofit Kft.
Hunyadi u. 1-3.

Competition office:

info@bbcc.huZsófia TóthArtistic issues
+36 70 933 9914Tibor KorponaiRegistration, application
+36 52 518 425Lívia LakatosTravel, accommodation, catering

10. Conditions of participation

10.1 Accommodation

10.1.1 Invited Choirs

It is the Artistic Committee that shall decide on the choirs to be invited to the contest considering the artistic quality of the submitted entry materials. The performing members of the invited choirs (numbers as specified under chapter 2), and their conductor shall be provided with accommodation in Debrecen from the beginning to the end of the competition free of charge by the Organizing Committee.

The service begins on 8th July 2020, 12.00 (CET) and ends on 13th July 2020, 10.00 (CET). The invited choirs shall be accommodated in youth hostels.

Should any choir wish to stay in a hotel, the difference in price between the youth hostel and the hotel (see below) is to be paid not later than on arrival at the Competition Office. If you prefer hotel accommodation, please indicate it in your application.

Expenses of higher quality accommodation:

5* Hotel – single room110 €/person/night
5* Hotel – double room70 €/person/night
4* Hotel – single room80 €/person/night
4* Hotel – double room50 €/person/night
3* Superior Hotel – single room 75 €/person/night
3* Superior Hotel – double room45 €/person/night
3* Hotel – single room50 €/person/night
3* Hotel – double room40 €/person/night

Breakfast, VAT and tourist tax are included.

The accommodation of higher quality and any other additional services booked can only be modified or cancelled free of charge by 8th April, 2020 at the latest. If modified or cancelled later, the additional charges resulting from the modification are to be paid.

10.1.2 Choirs with no invitation, escorts, and folklore festival only

Choirs of sufficient artistic quality – attested by the Artistic Committee – wishing to participate in the contest, but not invited at the expense of the organiser, shall have to pay a reduced accommodation fee. The same practice applies to the escorts accompanying the choirs and to those ensembles who wish to participate solely in the folklore festival.

Reduced accommodation prices:

5* Hotel – single room120 €/person/day
5* Hotel – double room80 €/person/day
4* Hotel – single room90 €/person/day
4* Hotel – double room60 €/person/day
3* Hotel – single room85 €/person/day
3* Hotel – double room55 €/person/day
3* Superior Hotel – single room60 €/person/day
3* Superior Hotel – double room50 €/person/day
Youth Hostel, rooms with 2-3 bed30 €/person/day

Breakfast (excluding youth hostels!) VAT and tourist taxes are included in the price.

10.2 Meals

10.2.1 Invited Choirs

The performing members of the invited choirs (numbers as specified under chapter 2) and their conductor/s shall be provided with half-board catering (breakfast and dinner) in Debrecen from the beginning to the end of the competition free of charge by the Organizing Committee.

The service begins on 8th July 2020 with dinner and ends on 13th July 2020 with breakfast.

Full board may be requested – at the choirs’ own expense- whose difference in price is to be paid not later than on arrival at the Competition Office. Further information on requesting full board please inquire at the competition office.

Requests for the extra meals can only be modified or cancelled free of charge by 8th June 2020 at the latest. If modified or cancelled later, the additional charges resulting from the modification are to be paid.

10.2.2 Choirs with no invitation, escorts, and folklore festival only

Visitors belonging to this group may request half-board (breakfast and dinner) catering at 16 €/person/day. For further information regarding other fees of additional catering, please contact the Competition Office.

Any prices published in this announcement are only for information and liable to change. However, if any such change should occur, participants shall be notified directly.

10.3 Registration fee

After receiving a confirmation of acceptance of the application for the competition, invited choirs are requested to transact the registration fee within a period of 15 days to the following address:
Name and address of bank: OTP Bank Nyrt., 4025 Debrecen, Pásti u. 1–3.
IBAN: HU17 1176 3385 2498 3882 0000 0000
In the comment box, please write the following: “Registration fee for the Béla Bartók Choir Competition”
Account holder: Főnix Rendezvényszervező Közhasznú Nonprofit Kft. (H–4026 Debrecen, Hunyadi J. u. 1–3.)

Registration fee depends on the number of the competing choir members, it is 20€ per person, which has to be paid after each performing choir member and the conductor.

Minimum amount of the registration fee is 450€ per choir.
Participants sending their application material by 30th September 2019 at the latest are offered a special early bird registration fee of 15€ per person by the Organising Committee with a Minimum amount of 350€ per choir.

Transaction costs are paid by the sender. A copy of the proof of transaction and the precise invoicing address should be sent to the Competition Office once the transaction has been completed. In case of withdrawal, registration fees will not be refunded.
In case of any difficulty in transacting the registration fee, choirs are expected to contact the Competition Office.

10.4 Travelling

Travelling expenses to and from Debrecen shall be covered by the choirs. Upon request, the organisers may assist with travel issues. During the competition all means of travelling for the choirs – in Debrecen and to venues of concerts outside Debrecen – is arranged by the organisers.

10.5 Miscellaneous conditions

Choirs may be requested to give additional concerts by the Organising Committee. Choirs may not charge for these occasions or any other individual performances, including radio and television broadcasts as well as film and sound recordings made during the competition, at the same time they relinquish all their performance rights.
As the Organizing Committee respects the privacy of the participants all personal data, video/audio recordings, and photos are handled in accordance with the rules and regulations of the European Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Choirs that have qualified from the semi-final but fail to participate in the final due to any fault of their own shall refund all expenses incurred.

Debrecen, 18th February, 2019.