English speakers only in Canada finals

English speakers only in Canada finals


norman lebrecht

September 01, 2019

The Banff International String Quartet Competition has named its finalists.

They are:

Callisto Quartet (USA)

Marmen Quartet (UK)
Viano String Quartet (Canada, USA)

The prizes are serious, totalling $300,000.

Cue national discomfort.




  • V.Lind says:

    What are you trying to stir up? What nation? What discomfort? What language do strings speak? What conceivable difference could it make what language(s) the players speak? I thought music was supposed to be an international language. These are the finalists selected by a distinguished jury — presumably based on their assessment of the playing of all the contestants.

  • David Rowe says:

    Agree with V.Lind…I appreciate provocative headlines stir anger and conflict, which promote the almighty clicks. But exactly why “English Speakers” is relevant in any way to the selection of the finalists is beyond me. While folks may “agree to disagree” about individual selections, Banff, among all the major competitions, operates with the highest integrity, and has a track record of laureates to prove it. Not to mention that these days (and for quite some years) pretty much all international musicians speak excellent English, regardless of country of origin!

  • Emil says:

    You might want to look at a map and see where Banff is located. Trust me, in Quebec, we don’t care at all. And as VLind says, if they play well, that’s what matters.

    • V.Lind says:

      Can he possibly be thinking about Quebec? I doubt there were even any Quebec entrants — I did not see any on this year’s list.

      Not sure everyone in Quebec does not care at all about Banff — there are Quebec participants in various things in various years at Banff, and I daresay Quebec music aficionados care as much or as little as anyone else, irrespective of the distance fro Alberta.

      But if this story is supposed to imply some rift in Canada, it is well wide of the mark indeed.

  • Larry W says:

    The Marmen Quartet and Viano String Quartet have been awarded Joint 1st-prize. Congratulations to both!

  • Steve says:

    I assume Norman means that the quartet with players from France, Russia, Germany etc did not make it into the finals. In any event, the joint first place winners today were the Marmen and the Viano quartets — and in my view as an audience member they well deserved their joint first place finish.