Quartets, Trios, Soloists: Music competitions and the mountain parks

I have an idea: we had the Honens International Piano Competition last fall, which invited two dozen competitors to Calgary for over a month of performance, assessment community participation, mentorship and finally, prize money. And right next door we have the Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC), which was founded over 20 years ago and, like the Honens, is intended to recognize and reward performers in the developing stages of their careers.

Empty hall with man conducting quintet onstage in rehearsal
At work with CPO conductor: and now there’s 5! Photo by Jesse Luimes

So if he Honens competition ended at the beginning of November, 5 months ago, and the BISQ competition begins in 5 months, at the end of August, what could be more appropriate, right here in the middle, than to have a meeting of the competitions? In fact, why not a General Assembly of the World Federation of International Music Competitions? And stuff.

It’s already set up? Oh. Great!

“Founded in 1957, the World Federation of International Music Competitions is dedicated to establishing a global network of internationally recognized organizations that, through public competition, discover the most promising young talents in the great tradition of classical music, and further their careers. . . . WFIMC is a member of the International Music Council (UNESCO), and its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.”

Hmm. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d be consulting “The Da Vinci Code” right now. Oh wait, that’s a work of fiction, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

So, from April 9th to 11th, representatives from more than 120 of the world’s leading music competitions will be in little ol’ Banff to discuss things related to piano, strings, voice, winds, percussion, composition, conducting, chamber music, jazz, world economic domination . . . maybe not that last one. But Stephen McHolm of Calgary’s Honens IS a Vice President of the WFIMC, so maybe he’ll advance some tar sands recommendations while everyone’s at the table. And I suspect you and I are not invited.

But to tie things up into a neat little bow, the Huang-Altstaedt-Vonsattel Trio (you know, the Ying Quartet’s Huang, cellist Nicolas Altstaedt, and Honens laureate Vonsattel) will play their Canadian debut performance April 6th at the Banff Centre.

See the bow? They’re no longer a soloist (Vonsattel) or a quartet-ist (Huang), and it’s just days before the General Assembly of the World Federation of . . . oh never mind. It’s a stretch, anyway.

Go listen to some live music.

Posted by Allen Thai

Author: Carey Rutherford

Swallowed by the mutual loves of words and music (but far too chicken-shit to perform them with a band), Carey’s writing career started slowly as a freelance writer in 2003, starved him nearly to personal bankruptcy until 2008, and changed directions while writing for FastForward, Beacon Calgary, GayCalgary, and Examiner magazines. With the death of many old-school periodicals, and the explosion of musical diversity in Calgary, the modern approach to writing about live music performance in the Calgary region presented uncluttered landscapes for the focussed passion that Carey’s conversations with musicians, drag queens, festival producers and small animals has uncapped. He was moulded by the brilliance of paper-based periodicals old and new (Life, rolling Stone, Swerve! and Adbusters etc.), and sees the info-verse as needing creative, empathetic, but clear-eyed Agents to communicate these performances.