Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC)

For nearly 40 years, Banff International String Quartet Competition has celebrated the art of chamber music while providing career support for emerging string quartets. Intended as a one-time special event, the first competition was held in 1983 to mark the 50th anniversary of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The outstanding success of the first competition inspired organizers to make this a triennial event.

In 2017, the Banff International String Quartet Festival commenced in non-competition years.  This intimate weekend concert experience offers beautifully curated opportunities to hear laureates from the competitions in unique collaborations with other world-renowned musicians. 

BISQC is committed to fostering career development with competition laureates through touring, residencies, coaching, collaborations, and recordings, as well as supporting opportunities for youth with mentoring programs.

All of these activities - competition, festival and career development - aim to provide opportunities for musicians and audience alike, inspired by the beautiful setting of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in the Canadian Rockies.

BISQC is a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions and is widely recognized among the top events of its kind.  

Mark Your Calendars

Banff International String Quartet Festival

August 30 - September 1, 2024

Learn More


15th Banff International String Quartet Competition

August 25 - 31, 2025

BISQC 2022 Recordings

Recordings of all 2022 BISQC Competition Concerts are now online! Watch and listen as nine of the world's finest emerging string quartets competed for the largest chamber music prize in the world.

The competition was also livestreamed by our official media partner, The Violin Channel, for all to enjoy! 


Watch the Recordings Here

Music, Mountains, Magic! is an award-winning ACCESS TV documentary of the 1992 Banff International String Quartet competition, hosted by Andrew Dawes.

BISQC Director - Barry Shiffman

Barry Shiffman is seated on a chair with a violin resting on his knee.

Photo credit: Stuart Lowe

Barry Shiffman enjoys a diverse career as a musician, educator, and administrator. He was co-founder of the St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ) and currently serves as both the Associate Dean and Director of Chamber Music at Glenn Gould School, and Director of the Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. 

During his 17 years with the SLSQ he appeared in over 2,000 concerts in venues around the globe, and recorded several critically acclaimed discs under an exclusive contract with EMI Classics. While with SLSQ, Shiffman served as artist-in-residence at Stanford University from 1998 to 2006 and as visiting artist at the University of Toronto from 1995 to 2006. 

Shiffman has also served in numerous roles at Banff Centre, including Director of Music Programs (2006-2010), Artistic Director of Summer Classical Music Programs (2010-2016), and Director of the Banff International String Quartet Competition since 2006. During his tenure at Banff Centre he introduced new programming in classical music performance, composition, popular music, and jazz and oversaw the dramatic growth of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, including the successful launch of the Banff Centre International String Quartet Festival in 2017.

In 2018, Shiffman was appointed Artistic Director of Rockport Music in Massachusetts, overseeing all classical programming for the organization including a five-week summer chamber music festival at the venerable Shalin Liu Performance Center. From 2009-2017, he was Executive Artistic Director of Music in the Morning Concert Society in Vancouver. A sought-after juror, he has served on the violin jury of the Tchaikovsky and Montreal Violin Competitions, and the String Quartet Competitions of London Wigmore Hall, Lyon, and Geneva.

Shiffman received his formal studies at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, University of Toronto, Utrecht Conservatory, Hartt School of Music, Juilliard School, and Yale University. Summer studies included Banff Centre, Tanglewood, and Aspen. He is also  the recipient of the Longy School’s Nadia Boulanger Prize for Excellence in the Art of Teaching, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Calgary.


Supported by

Azrieli Foundation


In partnership with:


Official Media Partner of BISQC 2022:


The Violin Channel


Official Luthier of BISQC 2022:

Wilder & Davis Luthiers


Official Shuttle Provider:

Banff Airporter

BISQC is a member of

World Federation of International Music Competitions

Contact Us

For questions please contact:
Phone: 403.762.6231
Lisa Ramsey, Manager
Jane Russell, Coordinator
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Box 1020, Stn. 23
Banff, Alberta
T1L 1H5 Canada