String Quartet Competition Insights

In November 2014, the Invitation Jury listened to and assessed the CDs submitted by applicants, without knowing the identity of the quartets concerned. We are delighted to announce that twelve quartets have been selected to proceed to the Preliminary Stages of the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition.

View Selected Quartets

Members of the Invitation Jury were:

  • Mark Braithwaite
    viola, ex-Doric Quartet and Professor, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
  • Simone van der Giessen
    viola, Navarra Quartet
  • Donald Grant
    violin, Elias Quartet
  • Oliver Heath
    violin, Heath Quartet
  • Alasdair Tait
    cello, Director of YCAT and Head of Chamber Music, Guildhall School of Music & Drama

We asked the Invitation Jury a few questions about the process:

You have listened to 33 quartets at this stage. What did you look for when choosing just 12?

Alasdair Tait:

Gut instinct. Something that grabs you straight away.

At this initial stage, the Jury listens ‘blind’ – there is only audio so the quartets remain anonymous. How do you find that?

Donald Grant:

It seems to be the fairest way, so you have absolutely no preconceptions about a group and you listen to them fresh for the first time.

Mark Braithwaite:

Yes, and they need to have thought about exactly what’s going to go into our ears, and what could be missed.

What is exciting about a young quartet?

Oliver Heath:

You want something that’s compelling – when people have obviously got a voice and a personality, and a commitment to playing. And for something that has the potential to grow.

Alasdair Tait:

I think there’s a lot of correct, very well-behaved playing, and very skilled and studied playing, with thorough preparation. That type of playing doesn’t give you a career anymore. It’s about personality and having a voice, and actually taking risks and, as Oli said, being able to communicate some kind of commitment and passion and drive to do something that they feel they want to say and communicate, not just something that they feel is what’s expected of them.