2018 Rules, Repertoire and Practical Information

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The Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition was established as the Portsmouth International String Quartet Competition in 1979, later became the London International String Quartet Competition and then moved to Wigmore Hall in 2010. The Competition was established with the intention of reflecting, and in the hope of extending, awareness and appreciation of the richness of the string quartet, and to promote the discovery and development of talent and audiences for the string quartet.

Every competing quartet must perform Haydn, Mozart, a 20th Century work and the compulsory contemporary work in the Preliminary Round. Each quartet selected for the Semi-final round must play Beethoven; quartets which progress to the Final round must perform a work from the Romantic repertoire.

The jury will take into consideration the choice and variety of the repertoire and the balance of the programme.

Repertoire and Selection Process

Stage 1: Selection Stage

Stage 1 is a pre-recorded audition to be judged by a special Invitation Jury.

Applicants must send two recordings for Stage 1, as follows:

  1. A CD recorded on or after Monday 15 May 2017 of the quartet performing:
    • one complete Haydn quartet from List A below and
    • Schubert’s Quartettsatz
  2. List A: Haydn

    • Op. 20 No. 1
    • Op. 33 No. 1 or No. 4
    • Op. 50 No. 2, No. 4 or No. 5
    • Op. 54 No. 3
    • Op. 55 No. 1 or No. 3
    • Op. 64 No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4
    • Op. 71 No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3
    • Op. 74 No. 1 or No. 2
    • Op. 76 – any quartet

There is no restriction on the number or position of the microphones used for the audio recording, but the recording must be of professional quality and must not be edited or altered in any way. The recording should consist of one complete take only for each piece, i.e. with no breaks between movements and without any repeats. The Competition advises applicants not to submit recordings made at a concert, as audience and other ambient noise can detract from the quality of the recording. The recorded auditions can only be submitted on a high quality CD; no other format can be accepted.

  1. A DVD of the CD recording session. The DVD should be recorded by one fixed camera, to give a front view of the whole quartet, and should consist of one complete take only for each piece.

Please note that the DVD is for identity verification purposes only, and does not therefore need to use moving camera shots or graphics; it should just be a visual record of the CD recording session.

Please note:

  • The CD and DVD discs must not be marked with the name of the quartet or any other identifying marks; please label only the CD case and DVD case with the quartet’s name.
  • The Competition reserves the right to disqualify applicants entering enhanced or modified recordings. The recordings are not returnable, and no other format than CD (audio) and DVD (video) will be accepted.
  • Any changes in the personnel of the quartet after the recordings have been made and submitted will result in the application being rejected.

Please note that the CD recording is the only part of the application materials that will be accessed by the Invitation Jury during the Selection Stage. Members of the Invitation Jury will listen ‘blind’ to all the submitted recordings, and will not have access to any personal or biographical information or references. Please therefore ensure that the submitted recording is made under the best possible conditions. Applications will be judged solely on the quality of the recorded performance, and this is the only criterion that the Invitation Jury will use.

Stages 2, 3 and 4: Public Rounds

Stage 2: Preliminary Round must consist of two recital programmes as follows:

  1. Recital 1
    • Any one Haydn quartet from List A above excluding the Op. 76 quartets (NB: this must be a different quartet to the one selected for Stage 1) plus
    • Thomas Adès: The Four Quarters (2010) (published by Faber Music and available to buy from Faber Music’s online store from May 2017).
  2. Recital 2
    • Any one of ten late Mozart quartets (see List B below) plus
    • free choice of any major twentieth century quartet written between 1918 and 1999, excluding Shostakovich. For example, Bartók Quartets Nos 3, 4, 5 or 6, Berg Lyric Suite, Britten (any quartet), Elliott Carter (any quartet), Hindemith Quartet, Janáček (either quartet), Ligeti (either quartet), Prokofiev (either quartet), Schoenberg Quartets Nos 3 or 4, Tippett (any quartet).
  3. List B: Mozart

    • G Major K387
    • D Minor K421
    • E Flat Major K428
    • B Flat Major K458
    • A Major K464
    • C Major K465
    • D Major K499
    • D Major K575
    • B Flat Major K589
    • F Major K590

Stage 3 – Semi-finals: Semi-finalists must play any one of Beethoven’s quartets except Op. 18 and the Groẞe Fuge Op. 133.

Stage 4 – Final: The ensembles which reach the Final of the Competition will be asked to perform one of their two choices of Romantic repertoire from List C below.

List C: Romantic Period

  • Brahms Any Quartet
  • Debussy Quartet in G minor
  • Dvořák Quartet in A flat major Op. 105 or Quartet in G major Op. 106
  • Mendelssohn Any Quartet
  • Ravel Quartet in F major
  • Schubert Quartet in G major D887, Quartet in G minor D173, Quartet in D minor D810 No. 14 or Quartet in A minor D804 No. 13
  • Schumann Any Quartet
  • Smetana Quartet in E minor Op. 116 No. 1

Please note that ensembles may propose other works to those listed above in List C. However, if alternative works are proposed, they will only be accepted if, in the opinion of the Invitation Jury, they are of a comparable standing to those listed above.


Competition Rules

  1. The Competition will be held from Tuesday 10 – Sunday 15 April 2018 inclusive at the Royal Academy of Music and Wigmore Hall. Please note that Competitors must be in London for rehearsals and the Welcome Meeting on Monday 9 April 2018.
  2. Applications open on Monday 15 May 2017 and close at 6:00pm GMT on Friday 13 October 2017.
  3. Recordings must be recent, recorded on or after Monday 15 May 2017.
  4. Applications that arrive after the closing date, or that do not contain all the required material, will not be accepted.
  5. The recording for Stage 1 must be certified by a recognised musician or the recording engineer as the recent work of the named performers. The certification should confirm the name of the quartet, the date and place of recording, and the repertoire. Competitors are advised to have the recording made professionally otherwise it may not do justice to their performance.
  6. The Competition is open to string quartets of all nationalities. The Competition is exclusively for string quartets; no other ensembles will be considered.
  7. In order to meet the criteria, each member of a quartet must be under the age of 35 on Tuesday 10 April 2018.
  8. The Competition is divided into four stages:
    • Stage 1 – Selection Stage: Pre-recorded audition by CD and DVD only
    • Stage 2: Welcome meeting and rehearsals on Monday 9 April 2018
      Preliminary Rounds on Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 April 2018
    • Stage 3: Semi-finals on Saturday 14 April 2018
    • Stage 4: Final on Sunday 15 April 2018

    All Stages except Stage 1 will be open to the public and competitors will perform their programmes without interruption. Stage 2 will be held at the Royal Academy of Music, Stages 3 and 4 at Wigmore Hall.

  9. The order of performance for Stage 2 will be decided by the General Manager of the Competition approximately two months before the Competition begins. The order of performance for subsequent rounds will be determined by the General Manager of the Competition in order to provide a balanced programme from the repertoire chosen by the selected quartets.
  10. For the purpose of the Competition, string quartet is defined as a chamber music ensemble consisting of first and second violins, viola, and cello and in terms of repertoire, a piece of music written for a string quartet.
  11. Allowed

    • Works originally written for a string quartet.

    Not Allowed

    • Arrangements of works originally written for ensembles other than a string quartet.
    • New commissions, unless they have been commissioned by the Competition.
  12. Competitors must submit their programme for Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the attached application form to correspond with the repertoire outlined in the Repertoire and Selection Process section.
  13. Timings of all works must be submitted with programmes. The Jury reserves the right to penalise competitors who overrun.
  14. The Jury’s decision at any stage of the Competition is final and not open to discussion or correspondence.
  15. Candidates will be informed by email whether they have been selected to progress to Stage 2 of the Competition by Monday 6 November 2017. Once accepted, their acknowledgement, 100 word biography, high resolution (minimum 300dpi) colour photographs and further entrance fee must be received by Thursday 9 November 2017. The Invitation Jury’s decision to accept or refuse an application is final and requires no explanation. Subject to the advice of the Invitation Jury, up to 12 quartets will be selected to compete in London.
  16. The right is reserved to stream, broadcast or televise any stage of the Competition. However, competitors are not permitted to bring any photographic or recording equipment into any stage of the Competition.
  17. Previous winners of the First Prize of the Competition are excluded from further participation in any subsequent Competition.

Practical Information

Practical Information for Competitors

  1. Selected quartets will be expected to arrive in London no later than the evening of Sunday 8 April 2018 and leave on Monday 16 April 2018.
  2. The Preliminary Round of the Competition will take place from Tuesday 10 – Friday 13 April 2018 at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The Semi-finals will take place on Saturday 14 April and the Final on the evening of Sunday 15 April, at Wigmore Hall. All performances will be open to the public.
  3. Selected quartets not based in the UK will also be asked to perform once outside the Competition timetable at lunchtime concerts in London as part of the events surrounding the Competition.
  4. Please note that the First Prize winner will be required to remain in London on Monday 16 April 2018 for possible media interviews, so travel arrangements must be flexible to allow for this.
  5. Wigmore Hall will, if required, provide one return economy travel ticket to London, for the cello of each competing quartet, the cost of which will be reimbursed by Wigmore Hall after the Competition. No other travel expenses can be refunded. Each competing quartet is responsible for booking their travel.
  6. The Competition is required by law to deduct Withholding Tax from any prize money payments made to competitors not resident (for tax purposes) in the UK. However, the Competition has entered into a global agreement with the Foreign Entertainers Unit of the Inland Revenue for the deduction of certain expenses.

    A tax deduction certificate will be given to these competitors as proof of Withholding Tax paid, if a tax deduction is made. This can be used to claim credit from the tax authorities in the competitor’s country of residence. Further information will be available from the General Manager once a candidate has successfully passed the audition stage.

  7. It is the responsibility of competing quartets to ensure that any necessary visas are applied for in good time before the Competition. Wigmore Hall is happy to write supporting letters, but will not make visa applications on behalf of any competing quartets.
  8. Accommodation will be provided at a University Hall of Residence, and Wigmore Hall will pay for bed and breakfast for 8 nights for competing quartets (Sunday 8 – Sunday 15 April inclusive). Any additional nights will be charged separately and must be booked and paid for direct.
  9. Separate and dedicated rehearsal rooms for each quartet, including the provision of music stands, will be available at the Royal Academy of Music. Rehearsal time in the Duke’s Hall, the main Competition performance venue at the Royal Academy of Music, will also be available on Monday 9 April 2017, before the Competition starts. We strongly advise competing quartets to take advantage of this rehearsal opportunity on Monday 9 April, as there will be no other rehearsal time in the Duke’s Hall once the Competition has started.
  10. The organisers of the Competition can accept no responsibility for loss or damage to candidates' instruments or any other property at any time. Candidates are advised to make their own insurance arrangements.
  11. All contestants shall agree to have their performances recorded, filmed, or broadcast on the Wigmore Hall website or on radio or television anywhere in the world. No payment will be made to contestants for the recording or broadcasting of Competition performances.
  12. Quartets which do not reach the Final stage will be given an opportunity, if they so wish, to discuss their performances in private with members of the jury before the Final stage takes place.
  13. Each candidate, by signing the application form, agrees to be bound by all the rules of the Competition.
  14. Only the English text will be considered valid in the case of dispute and English Law will prevail.
  15. All communications should be addressed by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by post to:

    Ruth Wheal
    General Manager, Competitions
    Wigmore Hall
    36 Wigmore Street
    London W1U 2BP

Application Process and Requirements for Entry

Application Information and Required Documents

The closing date for applications is 6:00pm GMT on Friday 13 October 2017. All required application materials plus the CDs and DVDs recorded for Stage 1 must be submitted by this date. Please allow time for your CD and DVD to also reach us by post by this date.

Applications can be submitted in various ways:

  • Please send CDs and DVDs by post to the address below:

    Ruth Wheal
    General Manager, Competitions
    Wigmore Hall
    36 Wigmore Street
    London W1U 2BP

  • The application form should be completed and submitted online, following the instructions on screen.

    If you are using a Mac, please ensure you use Acrobat Reader and not Preview, otherwise the fields will not complete properly.

    The other required materials can then be sent by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to or by post to the address above.

  • Alternatively, the application form can be downloaded, completed and sent by post with the other required materials to the address above or completed, scanned and sent by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Applications open on Monday 15 May 2017. In order to apply to enter the Competition you must:

  • Pay your initial registration fee of £25 for each application, online by credit or debit card or by telephone to the Box Office on +44 (0)20 7935 2141.
  • If you do not already have an account with Wigmore Hall, please use the ‘New Account’ link at the top right hand corner of the page to create your account and to be able to pay the fee online. If you already have an account you can use your existing login customer details.
  • When you have paid your registration fee, you will receive an automated payment confirmation by email. When you have submitted the rest of the required materials you will receive a confirmation email from the General Manager, Competitions. If you do not receive this email within 5 working days, please email the General Manager, Competitions to check that your application has been received.

Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted.

You must return your official application form and recordings with the following required documents:

  • Copies or scans of the passport for each member of the quartet confirming each person’s nationality and date of birth. NB: driving licences and ID cards are not acceptable, passports are the only acceptable form of ID.
  • Biography of the quartet plus a curriculum vitae for each member of the quartet with particulars of general education and professional training together with details of recent concert appearances.
  • Two recent professional references about the quartet from prominent musicians referring to this specific Competition. References should be emailed or sent by post direct to the General Manager, Competitions.
  • Certification of the CD and DVD confirming the date of the recording and verifying the recording as the recent work of the named competitors (see Rule 5).
  • An initial registration fee of £25 for each quartet, payable online by credit or debit card, or by telephone to the Box Office on +44 (0)20 7935 2141. Please see Application Form for payment details. For candidates resident outside the UK please note that transfer, handling and bank charges are not included in this figure and must be paid by the candidate.

Once a quartet has been selected to proceed to Stage 2, the following will be required, submitted electronically by email.

  • A further entrance fee of £35, payable online or by telephone in the same way as the initial registration fee.
  • Biography of 100 words for inclusion in the programme which must cover the period up to April 2018.
  • One recent high resolution colour photograph (minimum 1MB or 300dpi) of each quartet suitable for reproduction in the programme. Please include the photographer’s name if applicable.

    Please note our email system only accepts attachments up to 8Mb in file size, if your attachments exceed this please submit it via the use of an online FTP/cloud sharing service such as WeTransfer, Dropbox or similar.

  • Confirmation of whether the accommodation provided by the Competition is required.

The above information is available as a downloadable PDF

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