The Viatores Quartet won the first prize of €6,000 and the Friends of Young Musicians Award


The Viatores Quartet © Urban Ruths Photography

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The winners of the 2024 Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy University Competition string quartet category were announced on 19 January, following the final round at the Joseph-Joachim Concert Hall in Berlin, Germany. First prize of €6,000, titled the ‘Mendelssohn Prize’, was awarded to the Viatores Quartet from Berlin. The Nerida Quartet from Stuttgart won second prize and €4,000, titled the ‘Federal President’s Prize’. Third prize of €2,000, entitled the ‘Elsa Wera Arnold Prize’, was shared between the Eden Quartet from Hannover and the Sapphō Quartet from Berlin. The special prize of €500 for the interpretation of a commissioned work was won by the Oxalis Quartet from Frankfurt.

The Viatores Quartet was also granted the Friends of Young Musicians Award, receiving up to €1,500 to use towards digital presentation, which may be in the form of CD or video production, a website, or any other media-related capacity. The quartet will also perform in further concert engagements across Germany.

Founded in 2023, the Viatores Quartet comprises British first violinist Louisa Staples (23), Chilean second violinist Velásquez Cárdenas (28), violist Kwan Hon Gordon Lau from Hong Kong (24), and Turkish cellist Umut Sağlam (25). All are students at the Hanns Eisler University of Music Berlin, and study under professors Tabea Zimmermann and Johanna Staemmler.

The Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy University Competition is open only to students enrolled in a German university and prides itself on being the oldest competition for young musical talent in Germany, dating back to the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Prize established in 1878. The scholarship was created as a reward for Mendelssohn’s descendants, who had donated his manuscripts to the state library, with the goal of training ‘capable and ambitious musicians’.

This year’s string quartet jury comprised professors Bjørg Lewis, Heime Müller, Nils Mönkemeyer, Sonia Simmenauer, and was chaired by Florian Donderer.

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