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BANFF 2016 | Banff International String Quartet Competition Announces Three Finalists

By Michael Vincent on September 4, 2016

Canada's Rolston Quartet lands final three placement (Luri Lee & Jeffrey Dyrda, violins, Hezekiah Leung, viola, Jonathan Lo, cello) (Photo courtesy BISQC)
Canada’s Rolston Quartet lands final three placement (Luri Lee & Jeffrey Dyrda, violins, Hezekiah Leung, viola, Jonathan Lo, cello) (Photo courtesy BISQC)

Announced just before midnight, the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition jury has selected three finalists.

They are Toronto-based Rolston String Quartet, UK’s Castalian String Quartet, and the Tesla Quartet who are currently the String-Quartet-in-Residence at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.

The competition jury has had the unenviable task of selecting the finalists, and ultimately the winner from a crop of unusually high standard performers.

“The selection criteria are nuanced but quite mathematical,” said longtime BISQC Executive Director Barry Shiffman during a chat at yesterday’s Ad Lib round. “We don’t toss out the highest and lowest scores like other competitions do. That’s like getting rid of the ugliest and best-looking kids out in the class,” Shiffman joked.

According to the official rules, the jury follows two main selection criteria: The quartet should be poised and ready to take advantage of an international career. They must also have the ability, unique artistic point-of-view and stage presence to potentially become a successful touring quartet.

Shiffman said BISQC does not allow dual placements (statistical ties) and does not withhold awards for any reason. “Their careers are in the making. We treat them like human beings,” he added.

The potential issue is that after getting to know each of the quartets, the majority seem to handily meet the criteria. While it is heartening to consider anyone of them could potentially win, it ultimately speaks to the abundance of talent and vision in young, up-and-coming string quartets this year.

BISQC is unique in that it does not progressively eliminate quartets until the last round. This means that all ten compete daily, giving the jury and the audience the opportunity to get to know each of them well.

The results were deliberated after comparing the jury scores from four rounds of competition, and calculated by Mathematician Moses Renert. The rounds included the opening Recital Round, the Romantic Round, and the Canadian Commission Round, (featuring a new work by composer Zosha Di Castri) and the new Ad lib Round that featured self-selected programs of signature pieces.

The jury includes luminaries: Philip Setzer (Emerson Quartet), Vera Beths, Denis Brott (Montreal Chamber Music Festival), Isabel Charisius (Alban Berg Quartet), Yoshiko Nakura (Tokyo String Quartet), Geoff Nuttall (St. Lawrence String Quartet), Peter Salaff (Cleveland Quartet), and Alasdair Tait (Balcea Quartet).

Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig van Toronto. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
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The three finalists — Rolston String Quartet, Castalian String Quartet, and the Tesla Quartet — begin their Beethoven/Schubert round at 4 p.m. Eastern today here.

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Michael Vincent
Follow me

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig van Toronto. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
Follow me

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