The trio receives $22,500 and performance engagements

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Trio Azura, left to right: Tony Bai, Yejin Hong, Duncan McDougall ©

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The final round of the 51st annual Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition concluded on 12 May at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, US. The competition was open to chamber groups consisting of three to six members of all nationalities, and comprised two categories: a senior division, open to players aged 35 and under, and a junior division for school students aged 18 or younger.

The $15,000 grand prize was awarded to the Los Angeles-based Trio Azura, as well as the gold medal and $5,000 in the senior string division. As part of the grand prize, the trio will complete tours in the US Midwest and Italy. The silver medal in the senior string division and $4,000 were awarded to the New York-based Hesper Quartet, and the bronze medal with $3,000 to the Philadelphia-based Erinys Quartet.

This year’s jury for the senior string division comprised Natasha Brofsky, Gilbert Kalish, Ah Ling Neu, and Ian Swensen.

Trio Azura was also awarded the Lift Every Voice Prize for the best performance of a work by an underrepresented composer, receiving $1,500 and a performance engagement, awarded by a jury comprising Titilayo Ayangade, Catherine Ramirez, and Rochelle Sennet. The trio also won the Horszowski Trio Prize, receiving $1,000 and an invitation to engage with the Horszowski Trio and other faculty members at the Mimir Festival in Texas, US.

Based at the Colburn School’s Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, US, Trio Azura comprises violinist Duncan McDougall, cellist Yejin Hong, and pianist Tony Bai.

In the junior string division, the gold medal and $2,500 were awarded to the Oslo-based Saphir Quartet. The quartet will also receive the opportunity to perform live on NPR’s From the Top, a platform dedicated to showcasing young classical musicians. The silver medal and $2,000 were awarded to the San Francisco-based Breshears Quartet, and the bronze medal with $1,500 to the Chicago-based Meraviglia Quartet. The junior division Horszowski Trio Prize of $500 was awarded to the Los Angeles-based Trio de Angeles, and the Kenneth Geoffroy Memorial Award of $800 was won by the Mishawaka-based Music For ensemble.

The junior string division jury comprised Pamela Highbaugh Aloni, Dorothy Ro, and Paul Nitsch.

The Saphir Quartet was established in 2018 and comprises violin-violists Amanda Noor Vatn, Philippe Jayer and Torje Råbu, and cellist Iris Kalliovirta. In 2019, the quartet rose to prominence when it received the golden buzzer on Norway’s Got Talent, and has won accolades including the Midgard grand prize.

The Fischoff competition was established in 1973 with the aim of encouraging young musicians to pursue chamber music study and performance, and has since become the largest and longest-running chamber music competition in the US.

Past winners include the Poiesis Quartet, Terra Quartet, Ulysses Quartet, Merz Trio, and the Callisto Quartet.

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