Banff International String Quartet Competition begins

Banff Centre International String Quartet Festival, Rolston String Quartet


BANFF, AB—Ten of the world’s finest young quartets will compete for the most coveted prize in chamber music at the 13th Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity from August 26-September 1.


The competition, which takes place every three years, is an exciting experience for artists and audiences alike. Audience members can follow the incredible versatility and artistry of 10 of the world’s most dynamic young quartets competing throughout the week—with the final round taking place at 2:00 p.m. in the Eric Harvie Theatre on Sunday, September 1.

An awards ceremony immediately follows the finals  and jury deliberation on Sunday, September 1 when the audience will applaud the winning artists.

“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.”

Shiffman compares the competition to the Olympics of chamber music, and says some audience members come with their own musical scores in hand to follow the artistic action all week long.

“It’s highly competitive and great fun for the audience to experience such extraordinary music. They can follow the action all week long, and experience the anguish of waiting to hear who the finalists are on Saturday night when we make a live announcement following the concert,” said Shiffman. “The final competition day is Sunday, September 1and we are expecting a packed theatre to applaud the winners.”

Shiffman and organizers have invited several guest speakers, and have organized film events, and open rehearsals that the public can attend to learn more about the life of chamber musicians.

Tickets to concerts range from $35.00 for the competition rounds to $70.00 for the finals on Sunday, September 1, 2019.

One of the highlights of the week of music will take place on Friday, August 30 at 8:00 p.m. when the Grammy award winning Kronos Quartet teams up with Oscar nominated filmmakers Sam Green and Joe Bini for a multi-media musical event entitled A Thousand Thoughts, a documentary with the Kronos Quartet. Tickets are available at

The competing quartets literally come from around the globe and are some of the finest classical musicians emerging on the world stage today.

They include:

•    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)

Chosen by a jury of internationally celebrated musicians, the 10 quartets were selected from a competitive pool of applicants representing 5 of the world’s 7 continents. The quartets will be competing for over $300,000 in cash and prizes, the most generous prize in chamber music internationally. 

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. 

Banff Centre would like to thank lead sponsor the Azrieli Foundation, and media partners including the CBC and the Violin Channel for sharing the concerts online and on CBC Radio. Banff Centre acknowledges support from the Government of Alberta, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Canada Council.

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. For more information about tickets please visit