The Van Kuijk Quartet have beaten 10 other ensembles to take top prize at the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. They are the first French group to win the prestigious triennial competition since 1997, beating quartets from the UK, US, Germany, Switzerland and Spain.
The competition is for young quartets, with players under the age of 35. It has three rounds over five days that cover repertoire from contemporary classical, including a new piece by Mark-Anthony Turnage, right back to Haydn, the father of the modern string quartet. The competition was judged by quartet-veterans including violinist Levon Chilingirian and cellist Valentin Erben, as well as the chairman of the Wigmore Hall, John Gilhooly.
The Van Kuijk Quartet was established in 2012 and studied with the Ysaye Quartet at the Paris Conservatoire. Before this competition the quartet had already had a whirlwind career with residencies, competition triumphs, and festival performances held all over Europe and North America.
First prize is the grand sum of £10,000, and an array of opportunities and concert bookings that will no doubt push this quartet’s expertise even further. The star quartet also won the Esterházy award worth an extra £1000 for best Haydn performance.
The Piatti and Verona Quartets took joint second prize, with the Aizuri Quartet in third place.