Banff International String Quartet Festival Concert 1
The opening concert of BISQFest 2023 features Leonkoro Quartett and Dior Quartet performing pieces by Britten, Wijeratne, and Hatzis.
Benjamin Britten: String Quartet in C Major, Op. 36 No. 2
Allegro calmo, senza rigore
Dinuk Wijeratne: The Disappearance of Lisa Gherardini
Christos Hatzis: String Quartet No 1, ‘The Awakening’
Jonathan Schwarz, violin
Amelie Wallner, violin
Mayu Konoe, viola
Lukas Schwarz, cello
The string quartet, founded in Berlin in 2019, could hardly be described more aptly than in the review published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in January 2022.
The ensemble is framed by brothers Jonathan and Lukas Schwarz on 1st violin and cello, with Amelie Wallner on 2nd violin and Mayu Konoe on viola providing the middle voices. Leonkoro, in Esperanto: Lionheart, alludes not coincidentally to Astrid Lindgren's children's book about two brothers, a book that juxtaposes the grave fact of dying with a large and heartfelt portion of consolation - a meaning the quartet's music is also dedicated to in not a few places.
The year 2022 is a year of awards for the Leonkoro Quartet:
In March 2022, the ensemble was honored with the coveted and highly endowed Jürgen Ponto Foundation Music Prize which is awarded every two years to an outstanding string quartet.
In April 2022, the four musicians won 1st prize at the International String Quartet Competition at Wigmore Hall London and were also awarded 9 out of 12 special prizes. These included the prize for the best performance of a work from the 19th century, the Britten Pears Young Artists Programme Prize, the Leeds International Concert Series Prize and the Esterházy Foundation Prize.
In May 2022, the ensemble was awarded with the 1st prize at Quatuor à Bordeaux Competition. They were able to convince not only the top-class jury, but also the audience who awarded them the Audience Prize as well as the Young Audience Prize. At the end of the month, they were appointed to the prestigious BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists program, of which the quartet will be a part from 2022 - 2024.
This was followed by the MERITO String Quartet Award in November 2022. Unlike a classical competition, the five selected ensembles do not know that they will be evaluated by a jury - made up of renowned string quartet musicians - over the course of a year and will demonstrate their artistic level in concerts. The MERITO String Instrument Trust will support the ensemble for four years with among other things, a composition commission.
In the summer of 2021, the Leonkoro Quartet got off to a brilliant start on the international stage when it became the youngest formation to be awarded 2nd prize (the 1st prize was not awarded) and the coveted Audience Prize at the highly renowned international string quartet competition Premio Paolo Borciani. In the same year, the ensemble won 1st prize in the Chamber Music Competition of the Alice Samter Foundation and was awarded 2nd prize in the Ton und Erklärung competition of the Kulturkreis der Deutschen Wirtschaft.
In addition to studying chamber music with Heime Müller at the Musikhochschule Lübeck, the quartet has been studying with Günter Pichler (Primarius Alban Berg Quartet) at the Chamber Music Institute of the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía Madrid since 2020 with the generous support of Santander Consumer Bank AG.
The Leonkoro Quartet is fostered intensively by members of the Artemis Quartet at the Berlin University of the Arts. The four musicians received further artistic impulses from Alfred Brendel, Reinhard Göbel, Rainer Schmidt (Hagen Quartet), Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) and Luc-Marie Aguera (Quatuor Ysaye).
During the 2022/2023 season, the Leonkoro Quartet will perform at venues including the Konzerthaus Berlin, CAPE Ettelbruck, Alte Oper Frankfurt, the VIBRE Festival in Bordeaux, the String Quartet Festival in Heidelberg and the Dresden Music Festival. In addition, the ensemble will begin its three-year residency in Leeds and will play two concerts at Esterhazy Castle.
The Leonkoro Quartet is a Pirastro Artist.
Noa Sarid, violin
Tobias Elser, violin
Caleb Georges, viola
Joanne Yesol Choi, cello
Joined together from Israel, Korea-Canada, Saint Lucia, and the USA, the Dior Quartet is the Quartet-in-Residence at the Glenn Gould School, Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada. Formed in Fall 2018 at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University under the Pacifica Quartet, they are Silver prize winners of the 2021 Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition, quarter-finalists of the 2022 Banff International String Quartet Competition and 2021 Bartok Competition, and Bronze Medalists of the 2019 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. The Dior Quartet has performed and participated in various programs and concert series in Canada, USA, and the U.K. The repertoire and projects they pursue intersect with their multicultural backgrounds and moral values, as they seek to explore the immigrant experience through art. The quartet takes their name from the French word “D’or” which means gold. The quartet has been selected to participate in the prestigious 2023 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition and 2023 Bad Tolz 1st International String Quartet Competition.