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Largest Prizes for Chamber Music in the World

By Banff Centre Communications Posted on October 04, 2021
Banff International String Quartet Competition 2019 First Prize Winners

Media Release | October 4, 2021 | Banff, AB

Applications for Banff International String Quartet Competition 2022 Now Open

It’s time again for the triennial Banff International String Quartet Competition to provide a career-defining, life-changing opportunity for some of the world’s finest young string quartets.

Today marks the opening of applications for quartets for the 2022 Competition, with a closing date of March 1st, 2022. The Competition will run from August 29th – September 4th and offer over $250,000 CAD in cash and prizes, including the Christine and David Anderson Prize of $5,000 CAD for each of the 7 quartets not advancing to the finals.

In addition to these prizes, the first-place laureates will be offered the Peak Fellowship Residency Prize: a two-year paid residency worth $200,000 CAD at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas Texas.

The first-placed laureates will also be offered a residency with the Esterházy Foundation, including concerts at Haydn Hall in Eisenstadt and the Lucerne Festival.

For over 30 years, Banff International String Quartet Competition has celebrated the art of chamber music while providing career support for emerging string quartets. The competition is a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions and is widely recognized among the top events of its kind.

Our goal is for this competition to propel the careers of the winners and finalists.  The winners’ artistic lives will be transformed over the next three years with a two-year visiting residency at Southern Methodist University, a professional recording produced at Banff Centre, and North American and European Tours that will expose them to audiences everywhere.

The Competition has a long history of celebrating the art of chamber music, while providing unmatched career support for emerging string quartets.  Industry experts know that to succeed at BISQC is to set in motion a major performing career, so I encourage all quartets that dream of an international career to apply.

Barry Shiffman, Director, Banff International String Quartet Competition

Many competitions exist for chamber music, but no competition is as prestigious for string quartets exclusively as Banff.  Having served on the jury twice—once in the preliminary screening round and once for the live auditions in Banff—I can say, without any doubt, that the judging was honest and transparent.  The Banff Competition has certainly helped launch the careers of many deserving young string quartets.

Philip Setzer, Emerson String Quartet

Today also marks the announcement of an outstanding list of internationally distinguished Jurors for the 2022 Competition.

After applications close, the finalists will be chosen by a panel of three Preliminary Jurors: Aaron Boyd, Andrew Wan and Andrew Yee. The finalists will be judged by a panel of seven Competition Jurors; Jane Atkins, Estelle Choi, James Ehnes, Barnabás Kelemen, Catherine Manson, Károly Schranz and Sung-Won Yang. The jurors’ detailed biographies can be accessed as part of this page.

From the very first day we set foot at the Banff Centre with nine other quartets, BISQC was nothing short of a career-changing experience! It is so much more than a competition; creating a strong community and network of incredible musicians, fostering everyone’s excitement not only to work hard but to love what we do. The career opportunities that we and our peers at BISQC have had as a result have been absolutely invaluable.

Dover Quartet, 2013 BISQC First Place winners

With its generous support and top-notch facilities, The Banff Centre has been an enormous help in the career of the Afiara Quartet. What was once a dream has been made possible by BISQC. Not only have we had numerous residencies at the Centre which has given flight to previously unrealized dreams, but we also continue to receive encouragement and confidence to fulfill our artistic vision. Some highlights that BISQC has made possible have included recording three Beethoven Quartets in Rolston Recital Hall, collaborating with artists Uri Caine and John Corigliano, and introducing us to other world-class artists and mentors.

Afiara String Quartet, 2010 BISQC Second Place winners

Past winners have included the Marmen & Viano Quartets, St. Lawrence, Miró, Daedalus, Jupiter, TinAlley, Cecilia, Dover, and Rolston String Quartets. The competition is open to quartets of all nationalities whose members are all under the age of 35 at the time of the competition.

For those wishing to apply before the March 1st 2022 deadline, the following links will be useful:

Application Page Rules

Application Page Rules, Regulations and Repertoire

Winning BISQC has been life-changing for the four of us! The performance opportunities have been fantastic, and BISQC’s career support and counsel are truly invaluable.

Violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, Dover Quartet, 2013 BISQC First Place winners

The Banff International String Quartet Competition is generously supported by the lead sponsorship of the Azrieli foundation.

We acknowledge, with deep respect and gratitude, our home on the side of Sacred Buffalo Guardian Mountain. In the spirit of respect and truth, we honour and acknowledge the Banff area, known as “Minhrpa” (translated in Stoney Nakoda as “the waterfalls”) and the Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Îyârhe Nakoda (Stoney Nakoda) – comprised of the Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley First Nations – as well as the Tsuut’ina First Nation and the Blackfoot Confederacy comprised of the Siksika, Piikani, Kainai. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Shuswap Nations, Ktunaxa Nations, and Metis Nation of Alberta, Region 3. We acknowledge all Nations who live, work, and play here, help us steward this land, and honour and celebrate this place.


About Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Founded in 1933, Banff Centre 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 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.