Calidore String Quartet wins $100K top award at M-Prize

Calidore String Quartet
Detroit Free Press

By Mark Stryker

The Calidore String Quartet of New York won the $100,000 grand prize at the inaugural M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition at the University of Michigan on Thursday night.

The prize is the most lucrative award in the world for chamber music.

"My head is spinning," said the quartet's violist Jeremy Berry, on the stage of Hill Auditorium, shortly after the group's victory.

"When you're trying to get a quartet off the ground, there are a lot of difficulties financially and in getting concerts. This will give us a chance to sustain a career."

The Calidore quartet, which just completed a two-year residency at Stony Brook University of New York and whose members average 27 years of age, beat out two others ensembles in the Finals Concert — the Kenari Quartet, a saxophone ensemble from Indiana University in Bloomington, and Yarn/Wire, a quartet of two pianists and two percussionists based in New York.

The Calidore quartet — which impressed the 15-member jury with its polished performances of standard repertory by Debussy, Haydn, Webern and Mendelssohn — already has a reputation as a fast-rising ensemble. It plays about 60 concerts a year, has major management with Opus 3 of New York and a trail of other competition victories in its wake. Still, Berry said M-Prize will take the group to another level of prominence.

In addition to the cash, the group wins performances in coming seasons on six important arts series in America and Germany, including the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor in 2016-17.

All three of the top laureates had earlier won $20,000 first place awards in strings, winds and open divisions. The Calidore's finals victory added an additional $80,000 to its winnings.

M-Prize is the brainchild of Aaron Dworkin, who last year took over as dean of the School of Music, Theater and Dance at U-M. Dworkin, best known as the highly celebrated founder of the Detroit-based Sphinx Competition for minority string players, conceived of M-Prize as a centerpiece event for the international chamber music community. But Dworkin also wanted to draw attention to U-M's desire to play a leadership role in defining the future of the genre as more diverse and inclusive

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