In an unprecedented move, the Banff International Quartet Competition has awarded its first prize to two quartets

For the first time, the Banff International String Quartet Competition, held in Banff, Canada, has awarded a joint first prize: to the London-based Marmen Quartet and the Los Angeles-based Viano String Quartet. They will each receive CAD $16,000 plus a number of mentorship and international performance opportunities, including a two-year paid residency at the Meadows School of the Arts at the Southern Methodist University.

The results were announced following 7 days of competition featuring 10 ensembles in a Recital Round, a Romantic Round, a Canadian Commission Round, and a Shubertplus Round. On Sunday, each of the three finalists performed a complete work by Beethoven.

2nd prize was awarded to the Houston-based Callisto Quartet, which receives a $12,000 cash prize and creative residency at Banff Centre including coaching and mentorship opportunities valued at $15,000.

Founded in 2013 at the Royal College of Music, the Marmen Quartet, which consists of violinists Johannes Marmen and Ricky Gore, violist Bryony Gibson-Cornish and cellist Steffan Morris, has formerly won 1st prize at the 2019 Bordeaux and the 2018 Royal Over-Seas League Competitions.

Comprising violinists Hao Zhou and Lucy Wang, violist Aiden Kane and cellist Tate Zawadiuk, the Viano Quartet was formed in 2015 at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, and has won major prizes at the Wigmore Hall, Osaka and Fischoff International String Quartet Competitions.

The 2019 competition jury comprised: Gillian Ansell, Martin Beaver, Adrian Fung, David Harrington, Nobuko Imai, Philip Setzer and Ursula Smith.

Additional accolades included the R.S. Williams & Sons Haydn Prize, awarded for the ‘Best Performance of a Haydn Quartet’, which was presented to the Marmen Quartet; the prize for the ‘Best Performance of this Year’s Newly Commissioned Work’, Bright Ferment String Quartet No. 2 by Matthew Whittall, which was awarded jointly to the Marmen Quartet and the Viano String Quartet; and the Anderson Career Development awards of CAD $4,000, which were presented to all seven quartets not selected for this year’s Final Round.