Cecilia String Quartet wins first prize at the 2010 Banff International String Quartet Competition

Banff, Alberta, September 5, 2010 -- This evening, competition executive director Barry Shiffman announced that the Cecilia String Quartet from Toronto, Canada has been awarded First Prize in the 2010 Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) at The Banff Centre. Following six days of juried concerts focused on classical, Romantic, and contemporary repertoire, the winner was chosen from a group of the world’s most accomplished young string quartets.   

“With a stunning spirit of creativity that consistently celebrated risk-taking and discovery, the Cecilia Quartet impressed the distinguished jury above all others,” says Shiffman. “It was, however, the insatiable appetite that the capacity audience showed for all music-making that has proven again that the future of classical music looks very bright.”  

The RBC Awards First Prize package includes a prize of $25,000 (CND), an extensive  three-year career development program including concert tours in Europe and North America, Banff Centre residencies, including the production of a CD recorded and produced by the Centre’s Audio department, and public relations assistance. As well, the first prize includes a quartet of custom bows by renowned bow maker François Malo.  

The evening’s other RBC Award winners include:  

Second Prize ($12,000) – Afiara String Quartet (Canada)

Third Prize ($8,000) – Quatuor Zaide (France)

Székely Prize ($3,000 awarded for the best performance of a Beethoven or Schubert quartet during Round Four) – Afiara String Quartet

Canadian Commission Prize ($2,000 awarded for the best performance of Canadian composer Ana Sokolovic’s Commedia del’Arte, commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The Banff Centre for the competition) – Cecilia String Quartet  

Founded in 1983 to mark the 50th anniversary of The Banff Centre, BISQC is a triennial competition that helps support emerging careers. Recognized by the World Federation of International Music Competitions, it is among the top events of its kind.  

The BISQC preliminary jury included Denis Brott, formerly of the Orford String Quartet, Marka Gustavsson of the Colorado Quartet, and Ian Swensen of the Meliora Quartet. The competition jury is made up of seven of the world’s top musicians, mentors, and teachers. They include Terence Helmer, formerly of the Orford Quartet, Erich Höbarth of Quatuor Mosaïques, Louise Hopkins of the Guildhall School, Hsin-Yun Huang, formerly of the Borromeo Quartet., Joel Krosnick of the Juilliard Quartet, Tim Vogler of the Vogler Quartet, and Timothy Ying, formerly of the Ying Quartet.  

BISQC is a celebration of chamber music that attracts a remarkably dedicated and knowledgable audience, many returning every three years. During the week of competition, audiences have participated in lecture series, impromptu community concerts, and performance opportunities for emerging young musicians, all in the spectacular setting of Banff National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site.  

Cecilia String Quartet  

Min-Jeong Koh, violin
Sarah Nematallah, violin
Caitlin Boyle, viola
Rebecca Wenham, cello  

The Cecilia String Quartet was the resident string quartet at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University (2009-2010). They are quartet in residence of Jeunesses Musicales du Canada for their 60th Anniversary Season. Receiving the Prix de la sacem for the best performance of the commissioned work by Gilbert Amy at the 2010 Concours International de Quatuor à Cordes de Bordeaux, the Cecilia String Quartet also won first prize and the Melpomene prize at the 2008 Rutenberg Competition held at the University of South Florida, second prize at the 2008 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and were winners of the 2007 Galaxie Rising Stars award in Canada. Recently, they were also appointed resident quartet fellows at Glenn Gould School in Toronto.
The Cecilia String Quartet has performed at Music Toronto, La Jolla Music Society in San Diego, ProQuartet in Paris, and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. They have also toured Ontario, Québec and British Columbia with Jeunesses Musicales Canada on their Desjardins Concert Series. Committed to teaching and outreach, they have taught and performed at the Austin Chamber Music Festival in Texas and at QuartetFest at Laurier University in Waterloo.  

Most recently, the quartet was the Joseph Fisch and Joyce Axelrod Resident String Quartet at San Diego State University in association with the La Jolla Music Society.  Since their inception in 2004, the quartet has held residencies at Laurier University, the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and the University of Toronto where the quartet was formed. Their first season culminated in the receipt of the Felix Galimir Award for Chamber Music Excellence.

The Banff International String Quartet Competition is generously supported by RBC.   

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About The Banff Centre: The Banff Centre’s mission is inspiring creativity. Thousands of artists, leaders and researchers from across Canada and around the world participate in programs here every year. Through its multi-disciplinary programming, The Banff Centre provides them with the support they need to create, to develop solutions, and to make the impossible possible.