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SMU Meadows Announces Collaboration With Renowned Banff International String Quartet Competition

SMU’s Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence Prize to Be Offered to Winner of Triennial Banff Competition

SMU in Banff

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

SMU 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. Founded in 1983 and held once every three years, BISQC invites 10 select quartets from around the globe to Banff Centre to perform various pieces of work over seven days, competing for the top prize: a three-year career development program worth over $150,000. It includes a cash award, concert tours throughout Europe and North America, and a Banff Centre residency that includes the production of a recording.

Now, the first place laureate will also be named the Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence at SMU Meadows.

The next BISQC will take place 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.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with BISQC to offer the Peak Fellowship to their winning quartet,” said Boyd. “A residency is a vital component for the long-term success of an ensemble. 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. The winners of BISQC are extraordinary, having included such groups as the St. Lawrence, Dover and Miró string quartets, and our students and community will benefit greatly from their presence in Dallas.”

The winning ensemble will present a yearly recital in Dallas and perform in several other chamber music concerts at SMU. Members will also coach student ensembles, offer private lessons and career workshops, give class demonstrations, and work with student composers, among other activities.

This extraordinary new partnership with our friends at Southern Methodist University will provide a crucial element for career development, and that element is experience,” said Barry Shiffman, BISQC director. “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. 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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