String quartets battle in Banff

The world's top young string quartets are in Banff for a competition held every three years that offers large cash prizes to the winners.

Winning group will take home $150,000 in cash and prizes

The Cecelia Quartet, winner of the 2010 Banff competition. (CBC)

Ten of the world's best young string quartets are in Banff for a major competition that begins Monday.

Held every three years, the Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) is open to string quartets whose members are all under 35 years of age. String quartets consist of two violinists, a violist and a cellist.

During the week-long competition, the quartets play five complete works for the judges. The groups also perform a piece comissioned from a Canadian composer. This year's commission is the work of Edmonton native Vivian Fung.

The winning quartet receives cash and other prizes worth $150,000. That includes a recording residency at the Banff Centre, a set of custom bows and a tour of Europe and North America arranged by the Banff Centre.

Past winners of the BISQC — including Canadian groups the St. Lawrence Quartet and the Cecelia Quartet — have gone on to successful international performing careers.

CBC Music, in partnership with the Banff Centre, will host a live video stream with a blog and provide daily updates and highlights.