The Banff International String Quartet Competition is one of the world’s premier chamber music competitions. A triennial celebration in festival format, the world’s 10 best young string quartets vie for over $500,000 CAD in cash, prizes and opportunities, including Christine and David Anderson Prizes of $5,000 CAD for each quartet not advancing to finals.
Additionally, first place laureates receive the Southern Methodist University Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence Prize, a 2-year paid residency worth $200,000 CAD at Southern Methodist School of the Arts 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, as well as an opportunity for a 2-week Chamber Music in Residency at the prestigious Britten Pears Arts in England.
All invited quartets are provided transportation from their home to Banff, as well as room and board during BISQC.
What does the competition offer?
The 14th Banff International String Quartet Competition offers unparalleled exposure to concert presenters, managers, and broadcasters from North America and abroad, making BISQC a career launching pad for all invited ensembles.
This event is a large celebration of chamber music in a festival format attracting enthusiastic capacity audiences for all competitors’ performances. All quartets invited to attend the competition will receive career development support with prizes for non-finalists as well as finalists.
- The competition is open to string quartets (2 violins, viola, cello) of all nationalities whose members are each under the age of 35 on September 5, 2022.
- Applicants will need to demonstrate the highest skill levels, with repertoire requirements available on the BISQC website.
- First and second prize winners of any previous Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) are ineligible to apply. For the purposes of this rule, this includes quartets and individual members of quartets.
- Quartets that have already competed twice in BISQC are ineligible to apply. For the purposes of this rule, a quartet will be considered the same group if 50 percent of the personnel are returning.
For full details on vaccination requirements, masking, safety protocols, and COVID related policies please visit: www.banffcentre.ca/covid-19-measures
“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.”
- Cellist Camden Shaw, Dover Quartet, first place laureates of the 11th BISQC
The quartets selected to participate in BISQC are required to arrive in Banff by Friday, August 26, 2022, and remain on-site through to a departure of Monday, September 5, 2022.
Each quartet’s selected repertoire for performance during the competition may include the works presented during the application phase. Each quartet invited to BISQC will perform in the first four rounds and if selected, will perform a fifth time during the Final Round:
Round 1: 21st Century Haydn
Round 2: Romantic
Round 3: Canadian Commission
Round 4: Recital Ad-Lib
Following the Recital Round, the jury will select three ensembles to advance to the fifth and Final Round.
Round 5: Beethoven Finals
Full repertoire details on each round can be found in the 14th BISQC Rules, Regulations, and Repertoire document.
Your program fee includes accommodation as is appropriate on the Banff Centre campus for the duration of your program.
Get connected with other artists on campus and focus on your projects in a creative environment while we take care of the day-to-day essentials.
Using a credit-based system to dine on campus, our flexible meal plans allow you to select meals according to your own needs during your stay.
The Full Flex meal plan is equivalent to breakfast, lunch and dinner in Vistas Dining Room.
1st Place Laureates: One quartet will be awarded a custom-designed, three-year artistic and career development program which includes
- $25,000 CAD cash prize;
- Winner’s Concert Tours in career-building markets in Europe and North America, arranged by Banff Centre;
- A two-week residency at Banff Centre including a recording produced by Banff Centre;
- Coaching, career guidance, and mentorship;
- Southern Methodist University Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence Prize which includes a two-year paid visiting residency at the Meadows School involving performances, coaching, and mentorship. This residency is valued at over $200,000 CAD.
- 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.
- An opportunity for a 2-week Chamber Music in Residency at the prestigious Britten Pears Arts in England
2nd Place Laureates:
- $12,000 CAD cash prize;
- A creative residency at Banff Centre including coaching and mentorship opportunities.
3rd Place Laureates:
- $8,000 CAD cash prize;
- A creative residency at Banff Centre including coaching and mentorship opportunities.
The R.S. Williams & Sons Haydn Prize:
$4,000 for the best performance of a Haydn quartet from Round 1.
The R.S. Williams & Sons Canadian Commission Prize:
$4,000 for the best performance in Round 3 of the new commissioned quartet by Dinuk Wijeratne.
Christine and David Anderson Prizes:
In recognition of the extraordinary level of artistry that BISQC attracts, all 7 quartets not advancing to the finals will receive a $5,000 CAD prize to support their emerging careers.
BISQC will arrange the travel and cover the travel costs for competing quartets (plus cello) to and from Banff.
Each quartet will be assigned a studio for the duration of their time at Banff Centre. Access to individual practice huts will also be available for use.
Competing quartet will have the opportunity to showcase their work by performing in the first four rounds of BISQC. Performances will be recorded for streaming and archival purposes.
Fees & Financial Assistance
Application fee: $225 per quartet
*Financial Aid of 100% of the program fee is available for this program.
Banff Centre will issue official tax receipts for eligible tuition fees and financial assistance and awards as required by the Income Tax Act. You will receive a T2202 (Tuition and Enrolment Certificate) for eligible tuition fees paid and a T4A (Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income) for applicable financial assistance and awards.
How to Apply
Three videos* (one per work) recorded after January 1, 2021, containing:
4.2.1) Two contrasting movements of a quartet by Franz Joseph Haydn from Opus 20, 33, 50, 54, 55, 64, 71, 74, 76 or 77;
Two contrasting movements from one of the ten celebrated W.A. Mozart quartets (K. 387, K. 421, K. 428, K. 458, K. 464, K. 465, K. 499, K. 575, K, 589, K, 590);
Two contrasting movements from one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 18 quartets.
4.2.2) First movement from a quartet from the romantic or nationalist repertoire of the 19th century, or the Debussy Quartet, Op. 10, or the Ravel Quartet, or the Elgar Quartet, Op. 83, or Sibelius Quartet "Voces intimae", Op. 56. Quartets by Schubert or Beethoven will not be accepted in this round.
4.2.3) A complete quartet from the following list:
- Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 1, Sz. 40
- Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 2, Sz. 67
- Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 3, Sz. 85
- Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 4, Sz. 91
- Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 5, Sz. 102
- Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 6, Sz. 114
- Alban Berg: Lyric Suite
- Alban Berg: String Quartet, Op. 3
- Benjamin Britten: String Quartet No. 1, Op. 25
- Benjamin Britten: String Quartet No. 2, Op. 36
- Benjamin Britten: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94
- Henri Dutilleux: Ainsi la nuit
- Alberto Ginastera: String Quartet No. 1, Op. 20
- Alberto Ginastera: String Quartet No. 2, Op. 26
- Paul Hindemith: String Quartet No. 4, Op. 22
- Paul Hindemith: String Quartet No. 5, Op. 32
- Leoš Janáček: String Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”
- Leoš Janáček: String Quartet No. 2, “Intimate Letters”
- György Ligeti: String Quartet No. 1
- György Ligeti: String Quartet No. 2
- Arnold Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 30
- Arnold Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 4, Op. 37
- Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet in F Major, No. 3, Op. 73
- Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet in B flat Major, No. 5, Op. 92
- Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet in E flat Major, No. 9, Op. 117
- Alexander Zemlinsky: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 19
- Alexander Zemlinsky: String Quartet No. 4, Op. 25
*The videos of the required repertoire for application must be of professional quality, shot by a single stationary camera in real-time, and must not be edited or altered in any way. You can record movements individually if preferred – you do not need to record multi-movement works in one take. You will be required to clearly identify your repertoire in the online application portal. BISQC reserves the right to disqualify studio enhanced or modified recordings, or recordings that are not of professional quality. Physical DVDs, CDs, or digital audio recordings will NOT be accepted.
Upload materials to BISQC’s Acceptd site, including resume, professional quality colour photograph of quartet, biographies on each member, proof of date of birth, two recommendations, and three videos* (one per work) recorded after January 1, 2021.
NOTE: a group leader must complete a single application and upload supporting materials on behalf of the entire string quartet on the Acceptd online application tool.
Online applications, together with all required supporting documents and the application fee, must be submitted between the dates of October 1, 2021, and March 1, 2022. All application materials must be received by March 1, 2022 (23:59 GMT-07:00).
All applications will be pre-screened by BISQC administration prior to the preliminary jury adjudication process. Quartet images are not used for preliminary jury adjudication, but are collected at the time of application to facilitate media announcements once adjudication is complete. Any application not meeting the highest standards will not be forwarded to the preliminary jury for consideration.
The preliminary jury members will review the submitted video recordings and supporting documents. No more than 10 quartets will be selected to attend the competition.
Please note, application fees are non-refundable and go towards supporting the review of each program application and the adjudication process. All submitted applications are reviewed by a panel of adjudicators, and due to the competitive nature of Banff Centre’s programs, we do not provide feedback on applications or guarantee acceptances into programs.
Quartets selected for the 14th BISQC will be advised by April 30, 2022, by email and phone.
All programs, faculty, dates, fees, and offers of financial assistance are subject to change. Program fee is subject to applicable taxes. Non-refundable fees and deposits will be retained upon cancellation. Any other fees are refunded at the discretion of the Banff Centre. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.