Classical Music

THE SCOOP | Isidore String Quartet Wins First Prize At Banff International String Quartet Competition

The Isidore Quartet at the Banff International String Quartet Competition (Photo: Rita Taylor)

The Isidore Quartet at the Banff International String Quartet Competition (Photo: Rita Taylor)

In what the jury called a difficult decision, the Isidore Quartet was named the first prize winner of the 14th annual Banff International String Quartet Competition. Hailing from the USA, the Isidore Quartet is: Phoenix Avalon (violin), Adrian Steele (violin), Devin Moore (viola) and Joshua McClendon (cello).

The competition was held at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity from August 29 to September 4.

The competition

Nine quartets competed over seven days. Each of them selected their own repertoire out of an extensive list that allows for each quartet to showcase their strengths.

  • There were four rounds of competition: the 21st Century Haydn Round, the Romantic Round, the Canadian Commission Round, and the Recital Ad-Lib Round.
  • At that point, the jury selected three quartets to advance to the fifth (final) round, where each had to play a complete Beethoven work.
  • At stake was more than $500,000 CAD in cash, prizes and opportunities.

The final round was performed in front of a sold out audience at the Jenny Belzberg Theatre, and ended with a standing ovation. After two hours of deliberations, the judges chose the Isidore Quartet.

Their prize includes a three-year career development program that will be designed just for them, along with:

  • $25,000 CAD cash prize;
  • Winner’s Concert Tours arranged by Banff Centre in Europe and North America;
  • A two-week residency at Banff Centre;
  • A recording produced by Banff Centre;
  • Mentorship and career guidance;
  • Southern Methodist University Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence Prize: a two-year paid visiting residency at the Meadows School including performances, and career guidance;
  • Esterházy Foundation Residency including concerts at Haydn Hall in Eisenstadt and the Lucerne Festival;
  • An opportunity for a two-week Chamber Music Residency at the prestigious Britten Pears Arts in England;
  • Lawrence String Quartet’s “John Lad Prize” — BISQC winner’s concert on the main stage of Stanford University’s Bing Recital Hall for Stanford Live’s series in 2022-23.

More prizes

  • The 2nd Place Laureates were Opus13, who received a $12,000 CAD cash prize, along with a creative residency at Banff Centre that includes coaching and mentorship opportunities.
  • The 3rd Place Laureates were Balourdet Quartet, who received an $8,000 CAD cash prize, along with a creative residency at Banff Centre that includes coaching and mentorship opportunities.

The bar is set high for the competition when it comes to artistic ability. The six quartets who didn’t advance to the finals will also receive $5,000 CAD in support of their careers.

“Our goal for this competition is to propel the careers of the winners and finalists,” said Barry Shiffman, Director of the Banff International String Quartet Competition in a media release. “Their artistic lives will be transformed over the next three years with a two-year residency at Southern Methodist University, a residency that will include a professional recording at Banff Centre and a North American and European Tour that will expose them to audiences everywhere.”

The Banff International String Quartet Competition, open to ensembles internationally whose members are all under the age of 35 as of September 5, 2022, is considered a career launching pad. Past laureates have included the Dover, Cecilia and Rolston Quartets.

This year’s competitors list included: Abeo Quartet (USA); Animato Kwartet (The Netherlands/Norway); Balourdet Quartet (USA); Dior Quartet (Israel/USA/Korea-Canada/St. Lucia); Isidore String Quartet (USA); Karski Quartet (Belgium/Poland); Opus13 (Norway/Sweden); Quatuor Agate (France); Sonoro Quartet (Belgium/Ireland); Terra String Quartet (USA/Venezuela/Iceland/Australia).

Bravi tutti.


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