SMU Partners with Renowned String Quartet Competition

(above: Dover String Quartet, performing at BISQC 2016 (winners of BISQC 2013) Photo by Donald Lee)

Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts announces a new collaboration with the renowned Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) in Canada that will offer SMU’s Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence Prize to the competition’s first place laureate.

The Banff International String Quartet Competition, a program of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, is one of the world’s leading music competitions.

Omer Quartet, BISQC 2016. Photo by Donald Lee.

Now, the first place laureate will also be named the Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence at SMU Meadows. The next BISQC will take place from August 26 to September 1, 2019, and the winner is expected to begin the Peak residency in 2020.

The Peak residency was established at SMU Meadows in 2015 as a two-year fellowship available to chamber music groups internationally. The first two winners were the Cezanne Quartet (2015-17) and the Julius Quartet (2017-19). The fellowship includes an annual stipend; participation in master classes and workshops with visiting artists; access to rehearsal space on the SMU campus; extensive performance opportunities in Dallas; and more. The fellowship is overseen by award-winning violinist Aaron Boyd, director of chamber music at SMU Meadows.

“A residency is a vital component for the long-term success of an ensemble,” Boyd said. “We look forward to offering the winning group an opportunity to hone critical skills in teaching, organizing, outreach, and mentorship while giving them access to our faculty and facilities for lessons, coaching, collaborations, and concerts.”

Barry Shiffman, BISQC director, called the partnership a crucial element for career development.

The Julius Quartet, which is the current SMU Meadows Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence, did not compete in the Banff Competition. With the new collaboration between the Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) and SMU Meadows, the winner of the 2019 BISQC will also be named the next SMU Meadows Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence.

“The opportunity for a quartet to bring their remarkable performance skills to SMU, inspiring young performers, creating new projects, and building community, will help prepare them for a successful multi-dimensional career,” Shiffman said. “Chamber music has an important tradition at SMU, and we look forward to working together to build on this tradition through this new partnership.”

The fellowship was made possible by a generous gift from Martha Raley Peak (1927-2015), a graduate of SMU who had a lifelong passion for the arts, particularly music. She regularly championed young musicians starting their careers.

“My mother was a devoted supporter of SMU and the Meadows School, and her gift to provide a residency for a talented young ensemble at the university was truly from the heart,” said her daughter, Martha Peak Rochelle. “Music was important to her throughout her life, and she always did her utmost to encourage others in the field. She would be thrilled to know that the Peak Fellowship will support the promising winners of a major international competition.”

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