Banff International String Quartet Competition announces 2019 competing quartets

BANFF, AB, April 30, 2019 – Ten of the world’s finest quartets will compete for the most coveted prize in chamber music at the 13th Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Chosen by a preliminary jury of internationally celebrated musicians, these 10 quartets were selected from a competitive pool of applicants representing 5 of the world’s 7 continents. They will showcase their exceptional skill during five rounds of intense competition from August 26 – September 1, 2019. The quartets will be competing for over $300,000 in cash and prizes, one of the most generous awards in chamber music internatonally. 

The quartets are (in alphabetical order): 

•    Callisto Quartet (USA)
•    Eliot Quartett (Germany / Russia / Canada) 
•    Marmen Quartet (UK)
•    Omer Quartet (USA)
•    Quatuor Agate (France)
•    Quatuor Elmire (France) 
•    Ruisi Quartet (UK)
•    Ulysses Quartet (Canada / USA / Taiwan) 
•    Vera Quartet (Spain / USA)
•    Viano String Quartet (Canada / USA)

The quartets were chosen by three preliminary jurors: Christopher Costanza (St. Lawrence String Quartet); Jonathan Crow (New Orford Quartet and Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra); and, Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt (Dover Quartet and first prize winner of BISQC 2013). Their triumph will depend on the decision of seven competition jury members representing some of the top names in chamber music: Gillian Ansell (co-Artistic Director of the Adam Chamber Music Festival); Martin Beaver (Tokyo String Quartet and professor of violin and chamber music at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles); Adrian Fung (JUNO-nominated cellist and producer of the Afiara Quartet); David Harrington (founder and Artistic Director of the Kronos Quartet); Nobuko Imai (Vermeer Quartet); Philip Setzer (founding member of the Emerson String Quartet); and, Ursula Smith (Zehetmair String Quartet and cello professor at Guildhall School of Music and Drama). 

“It was a great honor and pleasure to participate as a preliminary juror for the 2019 Banff International String Quartet Competition,” said Christopher Costanza, cellist, St. Lawrence String Quartet. “Thirty-seven young quartets from all over the world submitted excellent performances, and I found my task a difficult one – with such incredible talent, coming up with a list of 10 is a daunting task! My fellow jurors and I worked hard to produce a list of which we are proud, but those who did not make the list deserve to be complimented for their fine playing and obvious hard work. This younger generation of quartets is raising the bar and assuring a bright future for chamber music – I’m excitedly encouraged and optimistic that great music will not only survive but will thrive through their continued devotion to all things musical!”

This year, the first prize winner will receive a paid two-year residency in Dallas, Texas thanks to a new collaboration with the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University (SMU). This, in addition to generous cash prizes, residency opportunities at Banff Centre, and a three-year artistic and career development program, makes the triennial chamber music competition one of the top events of its kind. 

“It’s always a huge joy to see these young musicians succeed and see their careers take flight at Banff Centre,” said Barry Shiffman, Executive Director of BISQC. “Our winners are being showcased by many of the leading arts organizations around the world. The Banff International String Quartet Competition is like the Olympics of chamber music, we can hardly wait to welcome these wonderful artists to Banff.” 

Past winners of BISQC include the Rolston Quartet, which has performed over 100 concerts throughout North America and Europe since winning the competition in 2016 and recently made their premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York; the Dover Quartet (USA, 2013); the Cecilia String Quartet (Canada, 2010); the Tinalley String Quartet (Australia, 2007); the Jupiter String Quartet (USA, 2004); the Daedalus Quartet (USA, 2001); the Miró Quartet (USA,1998) and, the St. Lawrence String Quartet (Canada, 1992).

Breathtaking performances, illuminating lectures, shared meals, special events, and spectacular mountain views are available to the public with the purchase of a full week or finals weekend package or passport. Individual tickets will be on sale at 12 noon on Wednesday, May 1. For more information, visit

The 2019 Banff International String Quartet Competition and career development programming is supported by the Azrieli Foundation. The alumni gala concert is generously supported by Christopher R. Head and the Mentor-in-Residence Joel Krosnick is supported in honour of the R.S. Williams & Sons Company.

About Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity: Founded in 1933, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development. What started as a single course in drama has grown to become the global organization leading in arts, culture, and creativity across dozens of disciplines. From our home on Treaty 7 territory in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential and realize their unique contribution to society through cross-disciplinary learning opportunities, world-class performances, and public outreach. 

About the Banff International String Quartet Competition: Founded in 1983 to mark the 50th anniversary of Banff Centre, BISQC is a triennial competition that brings together a remarkably dedicated classical music audience, and helps support emerging careers. Recognized by the World Federation of International Music Competitions, it is among the top events of its kind. Past winners include the Rolston String Quartet, the Dover Quartet, the Cecilia String Quartet, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the TinAlley String Quartet, the Jupiter Quartet, and more.