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Sibelius Academy Guide for Doctoral Studies in Music: I Instructions for composition committee member



In the Arts Study Programme, the demonstration of proficiency consists of Artistic Demonstration and a Thesis.

Artistic Demonstration: a portfolio of entities called Components. At least one Component in the Artistic Demonstration must be a Composition Concert. Only in exceptional cases – for instance, a full-scale opera or a comparable work that is highly challenging to realize – may a score suffice alone as an artistic Component. The combined length of all Components in the Artistic Demonstration must be equal to that of 2–3 Composition Concerts; when assessing the sufficiency of the combined length of the Components, the Candidate's compositional style and technique is to be taken into consideration. Artistically, all Components must be ambitious enough to be suitable numbers in a Composition Concert. All Components in the Candidate's Artistic Demonstration must be defined in his/her doctoral study plan.

Composition Concert: a concert that is part of the Candidate's Artistic Demonstration.

Component: a Composition Concert or a comparable public and recorded concert, a recording of a concert, or a score. In all cases, the Candidate must provide the scores of the performed compositions.

Evaluation Meeting: a meeting of the Artistic Committee, to be held immediately after evaluating an artistic Component. In the meeting, the Committee makes an initial decision about approving or rejecting the Component.

Feedback Discussion: a meeting between the Candidate and the Artistic Committee, to be held immediately after the Evaluation Meeting. In it, the participants discuss the Artistic Component(s) the Committee has just evaluated. If a concert contains only one work by the Candidate, it is not necessary to arrange a feedback discussion; in such a case, each Committee member sends his/her written feedback to the Chair of the Committee; the Chair, in turn, makes sure that the Candidate gets the feedback.

Artistic Committee: the five-member panel of experts evaluating the Artistic Demonstration; its task is to evaluate the Composition Concerts and other concerts containing the Candidate's works; at times the evaluation may have to be done with the help of scores and recordings delivered to the Committee. Every Candidate has an individually appointed Artistic Committee.

Grade Committee: a committee convening immediately after the public examination of the demonstration of proficiency. It consists of the Chair of the public examination, who will also be the Chair of the Grade Committee as a non-voting member, the Chair of the Artistic Committee and one of the Thesis Examiners. The Grade

Committee proposes a grade for the demonstration of proficiency, to be confirmed by the Academy Board.

An Artistic Committee and a Committee Chair will be appointed for each candidate in the Arts Study Programme; the task of the Committee is to evaluate all Components in the Artistic Demonstration, such as concerts, compositions or recordings. The Committee is appointed by the Academy Board on the proposal of the Doctoral School. The Committee listens to and evaluates the performances and either approves or rejects them immediately after the concert. If the Committee rejects an artistic Component as a whole, or individual parts of the Component, or a composition performed in some other context, or, exceptionally, a composition evaluated with the help of the score alone, the Committee may ask the Candidate to revise the rejected portion(s). In addition to the approval or non-approval, the Committee gives the Candidate feedback, and thus advises him/her in preparation for the following artistic Components. If necessary, the Committee can suggest supplementary studies or changes in the remaining artistic Components.


A member of the Artistic Committee

  • listens to the performances of the works in the Candidate's Composition Concert, the works in the rest of the Artistic Demonstration, and the recordings possibly included in the demonstration
  • familiarizes him/herself with the contents and objectives of the Artistic Demonstration
  • participates in evaluating the works in the Artistic Demonstration
    • gives the Candidate verbal feedback about the content and quality of the works in the Evaluation Meeting after a concert
    • gives his/her feedback in a critical but constructive fashion
    • adheres to the instructions and recommendations given by the Chair of the Committee
  • after evaluation, writes a statement about the works in the Artistic Demonstration and delivers it to the Chair of the Artistic Committee within two weeks
  • participates in writing the final statement under the guidance of the Artistic Committee Chair
  • participates in the public examination of the demonstration of proficiency and the discussion therein
  • informs the Artistic Committee Chair immediately if he/she cannot attend a scheduled concert or meeting.


In the evaluation process, attention should be paid to at least the following notions:

  • personality and appeal of the music
  • skill in innovative writing for the chosen performance apparatuses
  • the compositional technique (skill set) of the Candidate: finesse and fluency (in the context of the Candidate's own personal style)
  • the design of the Artistic Demonstration in general and the composition concert in particular: the relevance of the objectives set for the works; the success in realizing those objectives
  • the quality and originality of the Artistic Demonstration
  • the Candidate's development as an artist during his/her doctoral studies
  • the Candidate's command of art forms other than music if his/her Artistic Demonstration contains works utilizing those art forms; if art forms other than music have a prominent position in the Artistic Demonstration, or in some of its Components, the Artistic Committee can be suitably expanded with persons with appropriate expertise
  • the quality of program notes and other supplementary materials
  • new perspectives and possibilities offered to music and other art forms by the Candidate's Artistic Demonstration


After the Composition Concert or other event containing performances of the artistic Components, the members of the Artistic Committee participate in the following two meetings, arranged immediately after the concert or event:

  1. Evaluation Meeting, where the committee makes an initial decision about approving or rejecting Component(s)
  2. Feedback Discussion, with the Candidate's participation, after which the Artistic Committee Chair informs the Candidate about approval or non-approval


An individual Component of the Artistic Demonstration will be evaluated either as “approved” or “non-approved”.

  • If the Artistic Committee is not unanimous, the grade will be settled by a vote; if the vote results in a tie, the Chair has the casting vote.


When all Components in the Artistic Demonstration have been approved, the Artistic Committee agrees on a provisional grade for the entire demonstration. The grade can be either “approved” or “passed with distinction”. The latter can be bestowed upon an Artistic Demonstration that undisputedly fulfils the criteria of an exceptionally high-grade entirety, in terms of artistic quality, the Candidate's artistic development during the demonstration, the ambitiousness of the objectives of the doctoral project and the functionality of the Components. The grade “passed with distinction” can be given only if the Artistic Committee is unanimous.


A separate Grade Committee will propose a grade for the demonstration of proficiency, to be presented to the Academy Board´s Division for Doctoral Education and Research. The Grade Committee will base its proposition on the Final Statement on the entire Artistic Demonstration (the Composition Concert and performances of works in other Artistic Demonstration Components) and Thesis, on the provisional grade suggested by the Artistic Committee and on the manner in which the Candidate defends his/her project in the public examination. The final grade is then determined by the Academy Board´s Division for Doctoral Education and Research. based on the suggestion of the Grade Committee.

The grade for the demonstration of proficiency can be either “approved” or “non- approved”. Moreover, in case of an exceptionally high-level demonstration of proficiency, the grade “passed with distinction” can be granted. The latter grade is possible only if proposed by both the Artistic Committee and the Thesis Examiner(s).

The Grade Committee convenes immediately after the public examination of the demonstration of proficiency. The Grade Committee consists of the Chair of the public examination, the Chair of the Artistic Committee, and the Thesis Examiner. If there is more than one Thesis Examiner, the one participating in the public examination will also be a member of the Grade Committee. The Chair of the public examination is also the Chair of the Grade Committee. The Chair is not entitled to vote.

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