The International Cello Festival, Finland will hold the VII International Paulo Cello Competition on October 1–12, 2023. The competition is open to cellists of all nationalities born between 1993 and 2007, inclusive.


Application is via the competition website at A link to this site will be activated in November 2022. Applications should append a quality video of the competitor’s performance for the pre-selection process. The deadline for applications is February 21, 2023. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. The non-refundable fee is €70.


The competition will consist of a qualifying round by video pre-selection and four public performances.


  1. Johann Sebastian Bach:
    Suite for Cello Solo No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012
  2. Luigi Boccherini:
    Sonata “L’Imperatrice” in A major, 1st movement,
    Allegro (Edition Schott)
  3. Krzysztof Penderecki:
    Suite per violoncello solo, 1st movement,
    Preludio (Edition Schott)
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven:
    Sonata No. 4 in C major, Op. 102, No. 1, 1st movement,
    Andante – Allegro vivace 
  5. A work of the candidate’s choice with piano accompaniment

The works performed on the pre-selection video may be included in the programme for the other rounds of the competition. The video must clearly show the performance, the player’s hands and face. The video must not be edited. Individual works may, however, be recorded as different takes. The application must state when and where the video was made.

The names of the successful applicants will be announced by March 1, 2023.

FIRST ROUND, October 1–3, 2023

A maximum of 26 competitors will qualify for the First Round. This will consist of a recital programme of the competitor’s choice totalling not more than 50 minutes and can include works for cello either with or without piano accompaniment. Movements from sonatas and larger works may be performed. The repertoire must represent a sufficient variety of styles to meet the demands of a solo career.

SECOND ROUND, October 5–6, 2023

Sibelius Hall, Lahti

A maximum of 9 competitors will qualify for the Second Round. One of following works will be performed with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra.

  1. Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85
  2. Éduardo Lalo: Cello Concerto in D minor
  3. Camille Saint-Saëns: Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 33
  4. Robert Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129
  5. Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33


A maximum of 6 competitors will qualify for the Finals.

FIRST FINAL, October 9–10, 2023
Espoo Cultural Centre, Tapiola

The competitor will be perform one of the following concertos with the Tapiola Sinfonietta.

  1. C. P. E. Bach: Cello Concerto in A major, Wq. 172
  2. Luigi Boccherini: Cello Concerto No. 6 in D major, G479
  3. Carlo Graziani: Cello Concerto in D major

The concertos will be performed without a conductor.

After performing the concerto with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, each competitor will also perform the Preludio from the Suite for violoncello solo by Krzysztof Penderecki (Edition Schott) as a compulsory encore.

SECOND FINAL, October 11–12, 2023
Helsinki Music Centre

The competitor will perform one of the following works with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.

  1. Samuel Barber: Cello Concerto, Op. 22
  2. Benjamin Britten: Cello Symphony, Op. 68
  3. Henri Dutilleux: Cello Concerto “Tout un monde lointain”
  4. Joonas Kokkonen: Cello Concerto (1969)
  5. Witold Lutosławski: Cello Concerto
  6. Krzysztof Penderecki: Cello Concerto No. 2
  7. Aulis Sallinen: Cello Concerto, Op. 44
  8. Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 2, Op. 126

After the concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra each competitor will also perform a movement of her/his choice from a Suite for Solo Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach as a compulsory encore.


The competitors will be offered free family accommodation for the entire competition. The Competition will make the competitors’ travel arrangements during the First Round, Second Round and Finals. Each competitor will pay his/her own travel expenses to and from Helsinki. The Secretariat will book hotel accommodation for those competitors wishing to stay at a hotel at their own expense. Those needing a visa to enter Finland should obtain one themselves from the Finnish Consulate in their own country.


The order of performances in the First Round will be determined by lot at 10 a.m. on September 30, 2023. Competitors will be given the rehearsal schedule and order of performance before the competition. The order of performance will change as the competition proceeds as decided by the Competition.


Competition accompanists will be available free of charge. Competitors will have the right to rehearse with their accompanist for two hours. Competitors may also bring their own accompanist at their own expense. Competitors will have an orchestral rehearsal for the Second Round and Finals.


The Jury will consist of nine experts. The Chairman of the Jury will be Arto Noras, Finland.


Prizes will be awarded as follows:

I €20,000
II €15,000
III €12,000

The other three finalists will each receive a consolation prize of €3,000.

The Jury reserves the right to distribute the prizes differently.

The prizes will be awarded after the Finals on October 12, 2023.


The Competition will have unrestricted regional and temporal rights to broadcast, record, videotape, televise, film and make discs or records of the competition performances and to place extracts from performances on the internet and in other media without paying any remuneration to the competitors or their accompanists.

The original language of these rules is Finnish. Any disputes over their interpretation will be resolved on the basis of the Finnish text. The procedure in the event of a force majeure will be decided by the Competition Committee.