Marmen and Viano Quartets, Joint First-Place Winners of 2019 Banff International String Quartet Competition,
To Be SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ Peak Fellowship Ensembles-in-Residence Beginning in Fall 2020
Fellowship made possible by new $2.4 million gift in memory of Martha Raley Peak ’50
DALLAS (SMU) --- The Los Angeles-based Viano String Quartet and the London-based Marmen Quartet, which in September both tied as first-place winners of the renowned Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) in Canada, will become the newest Peak Fellowship Ensembles-in-Residence at SMU Meadows School of the Arts, beginning in fall 2020.
SMU Meadows began a new collaboration with BISQC last year to offer the Peak residency prize to the competition’s first place laureate. The Viano and Marmen quartets will share the residency.
The jury selection of two winners was a first for BISQC, a program of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, and 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 $300,000. In addition to the Meadows residency, the first place winners receive a cash award, concert tours throughout Europe and North America, and a Banff Centre residency that includes the production of a recording.
The Peak residency was established at SMU Meadows in 2015 as a multi-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; extensive performance opportunities in Dallas; and more.
The fellowship was originally made possible by a generous gift from Martha Raley Peak (1927-2015), who earned a Bachelor of Music degree at SMU in 1950 and had a lifelong passion for the arts, particularly music. She regularly championed young musicians starting their careers. To ensure the continuation of the program and to honor her mother’s legacy, her daughter, Martha Peak Rochelle, has provided for an endowment gift of $2 million to SMU Meadows, as well as an additional $400,000 for operational funding.
“My mother was a devoted supporter of SMU and the Meadows School, and her gift to provide a residency for talented young ensembles at the University was truly from the heart,” said Rochelle, a 1976 graduate of SMU’s Dedman School of Law and a member of the Meadows School executive board. “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.”
The Peak Fellowship is overseen by award-winning violinist Aaron Boyd, a season artist of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the director of chamber music at SMU Meadows.
“At a time when the arts are suffering worldwide due to the pandemic, we are especially grateful for this generous endowment gift, which will impact students and arts patrons for generations to come,” said Boyd. “We are looking forward to bringing the extraordinary Marmen and Viano quartets to Meadows as a result of our new collaboration with BISQC. Through the Peak Fellowship, we will be able to offer them 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. Previous winners of the BISQC competition have gone on to successful international careers. Our students and the entire Dallas community will benefit from the presence of these exceptionally talented musicians.”
Each quartet 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.
“What was already a wonderful opportunity for the SMU community has become even richer,” said Barry Shiffman, BISQC director. “Both the Marmen Quartet and Viano Quartet share a stunning level of artistry and commitment. Representing the best of the European and North American approaches to quartet performance, these winning quartets will bring incredible performances and interactions to SMU, demonstrating the enormous breadth of artistic possibility. We look forward to working closely with the Meadows School and appreciate their immediate support for this unprecedented joint first prize, allowing for the sharing of the Peak Fellowship Residency opportunities.”
About the Quartets:
Marmen Quartet: Founded in 2013 at the Royal College of Music, London, the Marmen Quartet includes Johannes Marmen and Ricky Gore (violin), Bryony Gibson-Cornish (viola) and Steffan Morris (cello). The group currently holds the Guildhall School of Music String Quartet Fellowship in London and serves as the Young Quartet in Residence at Wiltshire Music Centre. In addition to the BISQC competition, they have won the Grand Prize at the 2019 Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition, the 2018 Royal Over-Seas League Competition and Second Prize at the 8th International Joseph Joachim Chamber Music Competition, as well as the Special Prize for the best interpretation of a contemporary work (The Four Quarters by Thomas Adès). During 2015-17, they were the inaugural winners of Music in the Round’s “Bridge” Scheme in the U.K., which supported concerts, workshops and mentoring with the late Peter Cropper. For more information, visit marmenquartet.com.
Viano String Quartet: The Viano Quartet formed in 2015 at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, where they are Ensemble-in-Residence through the 2020-21 season. Members include Lucy Wang and Hao Zhou (violin), Aiden Kane (viola) and Tate Zawadiuk (cello). The quartet received the Grand Prize at the 2019 ENKOR International Music Competition and second prize at the 2019 Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition. At the 2018 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition they received Third Prize, the Haydn Prize for the best performance of a Haydn quartet, and the Sidney Griller Award for the best performance of the compulsory work, Thomas Ades’ The Four Quarters. In addition, they received the Silver Medal at the 2018 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and Third Prize at the 9th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2017. For more information, visit https://www.vianostringquartet.com.
For more information about the Banff International String Quartet Competition, visit https://www.banffcentre.ca/bisqc. For more information about the SMU Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence, visit https://www.smu.edu/Meadows/AreasOfStudy/Music/PeakFellowship.