French quartet takes first prize at Wigmore Hall competition
Winners: the Van Kuijk Quartet
The Van Kuijk Quartet has been awarded first prize at the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition (24–29 March 2015). The Van Kuijk beat out ten other quartets during the six-day competition to take the £10,000 top prize.
John Gilhooly, director of Wigmore Hall and the competition’s chairman, said: ‘We have heard 11 fine young ensembles, many of whom will go on to have significant musical careers, but over the course of this week, we feel it is the Van Kuijk Quartet that has shown the most potential at this time.’
The judging panel for this year’s competition – featuring Levon Chilingirian of the Chilingirian Quartet, former Alban Berg Quartet member Valentin Erben, and the Pavel Haas Quartet’s Peter Jarušek – was chaired by Gilhooly.
Founded in 2012 , the Van Kuijk Quartet, comprising Nicholas van Kuijk, Sylvain Favre-Bulle (violinis), Grégoire Vecchioni (viola) and François Robin (cello), won first prize and the audience award at 2013’s International String Quartet Competition in Trondheim, Norway and the special ProQuartet-CEMC Prize at the 2013 FNAPEC Competition in Paris.
The first prize win at Wigmore Hall sees the Van Kuijk, the first French group to take the top prize since 1997, awarded with residencies at Canada’s Banff Centre, the Aspen Music School Center for Advanced Quartet Studies and Avaloch Farm Music Institute in the US, a place at the McGill International String Quartet Academy, and recital appearances at this year’s Royal Greenwich String Quartet Festival and the Morrison Artists Series in San Francisco.
The second prize for this year’s competition was shared by the Piatti Quartet from the UK and the US-based Verona Quartet; third prize was awarded to the Aizuri Quartet. Quatuor Lumiére was awarded the Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland Prize, and top-prize winners the Van Kuijk Quartet also won the Esterházy Prize for the best Haydn performance.