The Banff International String Quartet Competition is recognized as one of the premier chamber music competitions in the world. Established in 1983, BISQC is a large celebration of chamber music in a festival format attracting enthusiastic capacity audiences. The unparalleled exposure to concert presenters, managers and broadcasters from North America and abroad makes BISQC a career launching pad for all invited ensembles.
All 10 quartets invited to participate in the competition are provided transportation from their home to Banff, as well as room and board for the duration of BISQC.
In addition to generous cash prizes, the laureate quartets are offered residency opportunities at Banff Centre and, for the First Prize Laureates, a custom-designed three-year artistic and career development program.
Full details below and in the Rules & Regulations.
Career Development Awards
In recognition of the extraordinary level of artistry that BISQC attracts, in 2016 a new career development program was introduced which will guarantees financial support to all invited quartets. All seven quartets not advancing to the finals will receive a CAD $4,000.00 cash prize.
How to Apply
Online applications are accepted between the dates of October 1, 2018 and March 1, 2019.
Applications close March 1, 2019, 23:59 GMT -07:00 (11:59 pm MT)
Rules and Regulations
1. The competition is open to string quartets of all nationalities whose members are under the age of 35 on August 26, 2019.
2. First and second prize winners of any previous Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) are ineligible to apply.
3. 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.
4. Application is a two-staged online process. Submitting your application form and fee via The Banff Centre’s portal is STAGE 1.
Submitting your support materials via the Accept’d online application tool is STAGE 2.
All materials must be submitted online:
a) STAGE 1
- I. Online application form
- II. A non-refundable application fee of 200.00 CAD. Payment must be made by credit card via Banff Centre’s Office of the Registrar.
b) STAGE 2
- I. A resume of the quartet’s history including repertoire list and performance history for the period covering January 2017 to December 2018.
- II. A group colour photograph of professional quality in high-resolution format.
- III. A brief description of each member’s training and experience.
- IV. Proof of date of birth for each quartet member (e.g. copy of valid passport or birth certificate).
- V. Two letters of recommendation to be requested directly via the acceptd online application tool (the recommenders will be asked to fill out an online form).
- VI. Three videos* (one per work) recorded after January 1, 2018, containing:
1- Two contrasting movements of a quartet by Franz Joseph Haydn from Opus 20, 33, 50, 64, 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.
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.
3- A complete quartet from the 20th century, 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 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 will be required to clearly identify repertoire in the online application portal. BISQC reserves the right to disqualify studio enhanced or modified recordings, or recordings which are not of professional quality. Physical DVDs or CDs, or digital audio recordings will NOT be accepted. You must use the acceptd online application tool.
5. Online applications, together with all required supporting documents and application fee, must be submitted between the dates of October 1, 2018 and March 1, 2019.
All application materials must be received by March 1, 2019 23:59 GMT -07:00 (11:59 pm MT)
6. All applications will be pre-screened by BISQC prior to the preliminary jury adjudication process. Any application not meeting the highest standards will not be forwarded to the preliminary jury for consideration.
7. The preliminary jury members will review the submitted video recordings. No more than 10 quartets will be selected to attend the competition.
8. Quartets chosen to be contestants in the 13th BISQC will be advised by April 15, 2019, by email and phone.
9. The quartets chosen to compete in BISQC are required to be in Banff from Saturday, August 25, 2019 through to Monday, September 2, 2019.
10. Contestants shall not communicate with jury members during the competition, nor shall any other person communicate with the jury members on behalf of any competitor. Violation of this rule may result in automatic disqualification from the competition.
11. The decisions of the preliminary jury and the competition jury shall be final, and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the decisions of either group.
COMPETITION REPERTOIRE FORMAT
12. The quartet’s selected repertoire for performance during the competition may include the works presented during the application phase.
13. Each quartet invited to Banff will perform in the first four rounds and if selected, will perform for a fifth time during the Final Round.
14. The competition format and required repertoire is as follows:
14.1) ROUND 1: Recital
Quartets will perform a complete work by Franz Joseph Haydn from the list below as well as a complete quartet written after 1905. Total time of this round shall not exceed 50 minutes.
- Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet, Op. 20, No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6
- Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet, Op. 33, No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6
- Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet, Op. 50, No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6
- Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet, Op. 64, No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6
- Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet, Op. 76, No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6
- Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet, Op. 77, No. 1 or 2Ensembles will perform complete works in the order of their preference. Ensembles may leave the stage briefly between works.
PLEASE NOTE: Ensembles may be required to provide a copy of the score for their chosen contemporary work.
14.2) ROUND 2: Romantic
Quartets will perform a complete 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.
14.3) ROUND 3: Canadian Commission
Quartets will perform a new quartet of approximately 9 minutes in length by Canadian-Finnish composer Matthew Whittall. The work will be available to quartets that successfully pass the preliminary screening round and accept the invitation to participate in the 13th BISQC. The work is a co-commission of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with additional funding from Americas Society (New York). Score and parts will be sent to the competing quartets after July 5, 2019.
14.4) ROUND 4: Schubertplus
Quartets will present a recital of no more than 30 minutes. The recital must include one of the Schubert works listed below plus any additional repertoire of their own choosing. Individual movements are permitted. The additional repertoire is at the discretion of the ensemble, however may not include works previously performed during the competition.
Franz Schubert Selections:
Schubert String Quartet No. 13, D. 804 (Rosamunde) 1st movement: Allegro ma non troppo
Schubert String Quartet No. 14, D. 810 (Death and the Maiden) 1st movement: Allegro
Schubert String Quartet No. 15, D. 887 1st movement: Allegro molto moderato
Following the Schubertplus Round, the jury will select three ensembles to advance to the fifth and Final Round.
14.5) ROUND 5: Finals
One complete quartet from the following list:
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Opus 59, No. 1, 2, or 3
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Opus 127
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Opus 130 (Competitors may choose as last movement either the Finale: Allegro from Op. 130 or the Grosse Fuge from Op. 133)
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Opus 131
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Opus 132
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Opus 135
15. If accepted to compete in BISQC, competitors will be advised, prior to arrival in Banff, as to which repeats will be accepted and which repeats must be omitted during performances.
16. The works from the repertoire list as stated on the application form will be the repertoire performed during the competition. No other work may be substituted without prior written approval of the BISQC Director.
17. Any quartet that has competed in a previous Banff International String Quartet Competition cannot present any of the same repertoire they performed for the public and jury in any previous BISQC.
18. Quartets are free to perform standing or sitting in any formation.
19. All performances take place in the Eric Harvie Theatre at The Banff Centre.
20. BISQC and Banff Centre will provide the following to all invited quartets:
- 20.1) Return airfare from the quartet’s home base to the Calgary International Airport (including cello seat).
- 20.2) Return ground transportation to Banff Centre from the Calgary International Airport.
- 20.3) Shared accommodation (two persons per room) at Banff Centre from Saturday, August 25 to Monday, September 2, 2019 (check-out Monday, September 2, 2019). Single rooms will be provided where shared rooms would be inappropriate.
- 20.4) All meals from Saturday August 25 through Monday, September 2.
- 20.5) A separate rehearsal room for each quartet.
21. Obtaining appropriate travel documents and insurance is the sole responsibility of each competitor. BISQC accepts no liability of any kind whatsoever for any personal illness or injury sustained by the competitor or for loss or damage to a competitor’s belongings, including instrument, during transit or while at the competition.
22. Under no circumstances will a change of personnel between the application process and the end of the competition in Banff be permitted.
23. BISQC has the right, without payment of any fee, to record, videotape, film, broadcast, or photograph any competition concerts or events for any purpose. All rights, including copyright in such media shall vest in and be owned by BISQC in perpetuity.
24. BISQC has the right to produce and distribute without limit or payment of any fee, audio and/or video recordings of all competition concerts or events in whole or in part including the Winner’s Concert Tour
25. The official language of the competition is English.
26.The following prizes shall be awarded:
1st Place Laureates
One quartet will be awarded a custom-designed, three-year artistic and career development program worth over $150,000 which includes:
- $25,000 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 the production of a disc, recorded and produced by Banff Centre’s Music program, as well as coaching and mentorship opportunities with established artists.
2nd Place Laureates
- $12,000 cash prize;
- A fully funded creative residency at Banff Centre’s Music program including coaching and mentorship opportunities; with established artists, a $15,000 value.
3rd Place Laureates
- $8,000 cash prize;
- A fully funded creative residency at Banff Centre’s Music program including coaching and mentorship opportunities with established artists, a $15,000 value.
The R.S. Williams & Sons Haydn Prize
- $3,000 for the best performance of a Haydn quartet from Round 1.
The R.S. Williams & Sons Canadian Commission Prize
- $3,000 for the best performance in Round 3 of the new commissioned quartet by a Canadian composer.
27. All quartets accepted into the competition must agree that, if they win first prize, they will perform in the Winner’s Concert Tour arranged for them by BISQC or its designates in Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021. Exact initial concert dates will be available to all accepted quartets on April 15, 2019.
28. BISQC does not retain any fees for its management service in arranging the Winner’s Concert Tour but reserves the right to enter into agreement with other management to secure concert engagements. Concert engagements obtained by BISQC or its designates as part of the first prize will not be subject to any fee payable to the prize-winner’s current or future artist management. In addition, the winning quartet and its current or future artist management agree to give exclusivity within a 100 km radius to Winner’s Concert Tour presenters for the concert season in which the quartet appears.
29. Should a situation arise where the winning quartet cannot procure the necessary travel documents or visas, or cannot fulfill the concert obligations, BISQC retains the right to transfer the winning prize to the runner up or a quartet of its choosing.
30. Should there be a change in personnel of the winning quartet after the competition, BISQC reserves the right to cancel the winning quartet’s participation in the winner’s career development program, including any future concert performances.
31. By agreeing to participate in BISQC 2019, competing Quartets become ambassadors of the Banff Centre and the Banff International String Quartet Competition and must conduct themselves in an exemplary manner. BISQC reserves the right to cancel the participation of Quartets and/or their members, that display inappropriate behavior during the competition or during the Winner’s Concert Tour and Career Development period.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT AWARD
32. Upon completion of the first four rounds of BISQC, all quartets not selected to the final round of the competition will receive a career development award of $4,000.00.
All prizes are in Canadian dollars, and are subject to relevant Canadian government withholding taxes.
BANFF INTERNATIONAL STRING QUARTET COMPETITION
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Box 1020, Station 23
+1 (403) 762-6231