Youth Jazz Fest Sofia is a forum supporting thecreativeexpression and social interactionof young artists – performers, composers, and arrangers in the field of jazz and improvisation.The festival aims to provide them with a platform to present their projects, enrich their knowledge and skill, expand their creative horizons, and spark new contacts and creative partnerships.As part of the festival, a contest for both performers and songwriters will take place.


The festival will take place on May 26-28, 2022 in Sofia, Bulgaria. A detailed schedule will be published separately.


Festival participants can be young musicians from Bulgaria or abroad – soloists or ensembles, singers, and instrumentalists up to 29 years old.You can take part in a variety of configurations –as soloists, duets, trios, quartets, quintets, vocal ensembles, big bands, etc.Each performing group (ensemble or soloist) can participate with one personal project but, if they wish to, individual musicians can also take part in the projects of other participants.


We are open to any project that touches upon jazz and improvisation. Whether you are performing classic jazz standards or incorporating other styles into your project, we are interested in your interpretation, point of view and personal touch as artists and performers.We would be very gladif you decided to take part with your own original music.If you are a soloist in need of accompaniment, we can assist you in finding musicians to play with for your performance.


The following events and activities will take place as part of the festival:

  • Performer contest

  • Songwriter contest

  • Workshops

  • Flash mobs

  • Jam session

  • Gala concert


Musicians up to 29 years old can participate in this contest within the following categories:

  • Vocalists

  • Instrumentalists

  • Bands

Participation in the contest can be either in-person or online. In-person participation will take place in a music hall during the festival. Online participation will take the form of a live performance via direct streaming services. Pre-recorded performances will not be entered into the contest.


1st bracket – 10 to 13 years old
2nd bracket – 14 to 18 years old
3rd bracket – 19 to 29 years old



Up to 2 songs of your choice - jazz standards or jazz arrangements of popular, classical or folk songs

For the participants of 1 age group improvisation is not obligatory.

In the performance of the participants from 2 and 3 age groups there should be at least one part, containing a solo-improvisational element (variation, scat, riff,etc.) that is either prepared beforehand or improvised on the spot.Larger improvisational sections are an advantage.

Ideally, one of the songs should be from the list of recommended standards, which can be found on the festival’s website.


Up to 2 pieces of your choice - jazz standards, jazz arrangements of popular, classical, folk music, original compositions and more.

For the participants in 1 age group improvisation is not obligatory.

The performance of the participants from 2 and 3 age groups must contain at least one solo - either improvised or prepared beforehand. Larger improvisational sections are an advantage.


Up to 2 pieces of your choice - jazz standards, jazz arrangements of popular, classical, folk music, original compositions and more. Having an improvised part is an advantage.

Band performances are allowed to involve accompanists or backing bands as long as this is absolutely necessary for the performance (e.g. vocal ensembles, percussion bands, etc.), but their contribution should be no more than an accompaniment and will not be taken into account for contest ranking.


Technique – your degree of controlover the voice or instrument – clarity of intonation, diction, and articulation, sense of rhythm, dynamics, knowledge and control over different registers of the voice or instrument

Interpretation – your ability to delve into, comprehend, and impart your own reading of the piece you are performing

Style – yourunderstandingof and intuition for the means of expression characteristic of the musical style(s) which you are playing – rhythm, groove, dynamics, articulation, etc.

Workingas an ensemble – your ability to work with the other (accompanying) musicians

Improvisation – your ability to improvise in the musical style(s) which you are playing. Participants in the 1st age bracket are not required to perform solo, those in the 2nd age bracket can perform a solo prepared beforehand, and those in the 3rd age bracket must perform an improvised solo.

Stage presence – your ability to capture and hold the attention of the audience and jury during your performance

Choice of repertoire – the pieces performed should be appropriatefor the age, skill level, disposition, and maturity of the performer (this is primarily a job for the music tutors/educators)


Performers from around the world can take part in the contest,via online streaming platforms. For this purpose, participants should be able to provide an audio and video broadcast with reasonable quality. Performances will still need to be live. We are aware there is a limit on the quality of audio and video streaming. What matters to us is that your broadcast is as informative as possible of your performances. If needed, we can provide technical assistance.


All performances must be live. If you do not have access to an accompanist, we can procure a pianist or a trio (piano, bass, drums) for your performance.


Participants in this contest can be composers of original music, arrangers, songwriters with original pieces or original treatments of existing pieces.The works can be intended for any type of band – solo vocals, solo instruments, jazz combos, vocal ensembles, big bands, electronic instruments, etc.The pieces can be in any musical style or combination of styles that correspond suitably with jazz music. The pieces must be submitted asboth sheet music (lead sheet or part) and a demo recording.Sheet music must be in PDF, JPEG, or another graphic format (e.g. using the notation software Sibelius), and the demo recording must give a reasonably clear idea of the piece. Hand-written pieces will not be accepted.Along with the sheets and recording you need to send us a completed declaration form, certifying your authorship of the pieces (a blank form can be downloaded from the festival’s website).If the work you are entering into the contest is an original arrangement of a piece from a different author, they should be announced explicitly (e.g. “Improvisations on themes by Cole Porter”; “Summertime” by George Gershwin, arrangement for solo vibraphone, combo and symphony orchestra Ivan Ivanov; “The silent spring rain” (“Тихият пролетен дъжд”) – music and arrangement Ivan Ivanov of text by Nikolai Liliev).The pieces will be assessed by the sheets and demo recording, which can also be made with sampled instruments (Sibelius, Finale, Cubase and other popular software provide ample capacity to do this). If all you have are lyrics or a melody, you can send them to us and we’ll do our best to connect you to composers and arrangers which you can partner withto enter the contest.Pieces deemed appropriate can be performed by festival participants, without this affecting the contestoutcomes.A few exceptional pieces could receive a special prize – a professional studio recording.


  • Original music

  • Original arrangement

  • Original lyrics


  • Originality

  • Understanding of and control over the means of expression in jazz and related styles

  • Understanding of and control over the musical forms you are using

  • Understanding of the capabilities of the instruments and ensembles that you are writing for


The jury will consist of accomplished jazz musicians and educators.


There is a I, II, and III place prize for each category, as well as a special Grand Prix prize. A scholarship will be awarded on behalf of Antoni Donchev. Some of the award winners will be provided with the opportunity for a professional studio recording of their performances. At the jury’s discretion, additional prizes can be awarded for the best original interpretation of a piece, the best performance of a Bulgarian piece, the best interpretation of a musical style, the best improvised solo, the base scat solo, the best performance of a ballad, the best ensemble, the most impressive stage performance, the best debut, the best young performer, etc.


You can also present your performances outside the contest itself, but this must be explicitly stated in the registration form. In that case, you can still take part in the discussion and receive feedback from the jury, but you won’t be entered into the contest. All participants will receive a certificateof participation.


After the contest performances end, all participants will be given the opportunity to attend a meeting with the jury, in which they will receive feedback on their performances and an argued justification for the contest ranking received. Participants that perform outside of the contest can also receive feedback. The jury’s decision is final.


All contest participants, as well as those taking part outside of the contest, need to pay a registration fee of 25 BNG (€12, £11) for a solo participant or 15 BGN (€7, £6) for a band member. For musical ensembles over 10 people the fee is BGN 150 for the whole ensemble. There is no additional fee for taking part in the workshops. Fees can be paid in the office of Music center Art Libitum or via bank transfer.


A friendly jam session will take place as part of the festival. All participants are invited to join.


As part of the festival, a number of creative workshops on jazz themes, styles, and pieces will take place.Workshops will be led by accomplished jazz musicians. Any participant that has expressed interest upon registration and has been approved can take part in workshops.The pieces developed during the workshops will be performed at the closing gala concert.The specific material covered in the workshops will depend on the interests and skill level of the participants that expressed interest in attending. Some example styles: swing, funk, latin, samba and bossa nova, blues, gypsy, jazz fusion, modal jazz, free jazz, acid jazz and chill out.Pieces with odd time signatures, jazz arrangements of classic works or pop songs, and pieces with elements of R’n’B, hip-hop, gospel, reggae, calypso, afrobeat, Bulgarian and world folklore, etc., could also be included.


Weather permitted, flash mobs in lively areas of the capital (Sofia) will take place as part of the festival.


The festival will conclude with a gala concert, where the competition prizes will be awarded. Representatives of national mediaoutlets, production houses, and judges from other festivals around the country and abroad will also be invited to the concert.


In order to participate in the festival, you need to send us a completed registration form, which can be downloaded from the festival’s website ( Forms should be submitted via email to vladani@abv.bgno later than the 02st May 2022.


Participants coming from outsideSofia are responsible for their costs of travel and stay in the city. Where necessary, we can assist with accommodation.


Audio and video recordings will be made of all events that are part of the festival – concerts, meetings, workshops, flash mobs, etc. The organizers of the festival reserve the right to use these recordings and any photographic material from the festival for the purposes of promotion, such asbroadcasting to media outlets, publishing online, etc. By submitting your registration form you agree to this and concede the abovementioned rights,with no expectation of compensation.


The festival’s working language is Bulgarian. Translation to and from English will be provided for international participants.


The festival’s official website is:

Registration forms should be sent to:

You can contact us with any questions on:

Phone: +359 898 662627

Viber: +359 898 662627

Facebook and Messenger: Младежки джаз фест София/Youth Jazz Fest Sofia

Organizers of Youth Jazz Fest Sofia: Music center ART LIBITUM

Festival coordinator: Jordan Vladev