After a week-long celebration of the art of string quartet music the Esmé Quartet, comprising four South Korean musicians now based in Germany, was tonight [Sunday 15 April] awarded top prize in the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition, widely regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious platforms for young and emerging string quartets.

As well as £10,000 prize money, donated by The Dorset Foundation, the Esmé Quartet also wins the invaluable opportunity to give a recital concert at Wigmore Hall next season, as 10-12-date UK concert tour, residencies at the Banff Centre, Canada and Avaloch Farm Music Institute, USA, a place at the McGill International String Quartet Academy and a recording deal with Champs Hills Records. The Esmé Quartet were also awarded the £1,000 Alan Bradley Mozart Prize.

The Esmé Quartet, made up of musicians from South Korea and based in Germany, was founded in April 2016.

The competition, judged by a jury comprising prominent international string quartet musicians Jonathan Brown, András Fejér, Nobuko Imai, Bjørg Lewis, Heime Müller and Károly Schranz and chaired by Wigmore Hall’s own John Gilhooly, also saw the £6,000 Second Prize given to the Germany-based Goldmund Quartett, who were also awarded the Twentieth Century Prize (£1,000). The £3,000 Third Prize went to the Viano Quartet based in USA, which also won both the Sidney Griller prize for the best performance of Thomas Adès (£1,000) and the Haydn Prize (£1,000).

The twelve quartets which took part in the Competition included three based in the UK, three each from the USA and Germany, one each from France, Japan and one which is based between the UK, Switzerland and Spain, with musicians of 19 nationalities between them. Alongside their performances were concerts from now well-established former prize-winners including the Arcadia, Atrium and Belcea Quartets and a host of pre-concert talks, masterclasses, family events and a film screening.

The performances from the Semi-finals and Finals were live streamed via Wigmore Hall’s website and remain available to view at

John Gilhooly OBE, Director of Wigmore Hall, said: “It’s been an incredible week for the string quartet in London and the standard of playing fills us with great confidence for the future.”


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