The Isidore String Quartet has been named the winner of the the 14th Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) in Alberta, Canada. The American ensemble – comprising violinists Phoenix Avalon and Adrian Steele, violist Devin Moore and cellist Joshua McClendon – received the top prize of CAD $25,000; a concert tour of Europe and the US; residencies at the Banff Centre, Meadows School, Lucerne Festival and Britten Pears Arts; and coaching, career guidance and mentorship.

Second prize, including CAD $25,000, went to Opus14 from Norway/Sweden, while third prize, including CAD $8,000, went to the Balourdet Quartet from the USA.

The contest took place over seven days during which nine quartets from around the world (previously selected by a Preliminary Jury) performed four programmes: the 21st Century Haydn Round, the Romantic Round, the Canadian Commission Round, and the Recital Ad-Lib Round. Three quartets were then selected to advance to a fifth and final round, performing a complete work of Beethoven for a sold-out audience in the Jenny Belzberg Theatre.

Serving on this year's Banff jury were cellist Estelle Choi, violinist James Ehnes, violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez, violinist Barnabás Kelemen, violinist Catherine Manson, violinist Károly Schranz, and cellist Sun-Won Yang.

Formed in 2019 as part of the Juilliard School's chamber music programme, the Isidore Quartet has been mentored by Joseph Lin, Astrid Schween, Laurie Smukler, Roger Tapping and Joel Krosnick. The quartet has participated in the Honors Chamber Music program at Juilliard, given recitals at Alice Tully Hall, Morse Hall and Paul Recital Hall, and collaborated with members of the Juilliard Historical Performance department. They will also participate in the 2022 Ravinia Steans Music Institute.

Launched in 1983 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the contest is open to quartets of all nationalities whose members are under the age of 35. Previous winners include the Marmen, Viano, St Lawrence, Miró, Daedalus, Jupiter, TinAlley, Cecilia, Dover, and Rolston string quartets.

Photo: Toby Winarto


Charlotte SmithEditor of BBC Music Magazine

Charlotte Smith is the editor of BBC Music Magazine. Born in Australia, she hails from a family of musicians with whom she played chamber music from a young age. She earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from London's Royal College of Music, followed by a master’s in English from Cambridge University. She was editor of The Strad from 2017 until the beginning of 2022, and has also worked for Gramophone Magazine and as a freelance arts writer. In her spare time, she continues to perform as an active chamber musician.