Protean Quartet win York Early Music International Young Artists Competition

Protean Quartet: First prize winners at York Early Music International Young Artists Competition

PROTEAN Quartet, from Germany, have won first prize at the 2022 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition.

“We are so proud to receive this wonderful prize which will widen the opportunity for us to share our music far and wide,” they said afterwards. “We were competing against some amazingly talented musicians and we are privileged to receive this great honour.”

They overcame fierce competition from six highly talented international ensembles in the biennial competition, organised by the National Centre for Early Music, York, in a day-long series of performances by the competitors on July 16.

Protean Quartet – Javier Aguilar, Edi Kotler, violins, Ricardo Gil, viola, and Clara Rada, cello – receive a professional recording contract from Linn Records, £1,000 cash prize and opportunities to work with BBC Radio 3 and the NCEM.

Under the title Tempus Omnia Vincit, they performed Josquin des Prez’s Mille Regretz and Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 13 in A minor (Rosamunde), Allegro ma non troppo and Andante.

After Inflammabile and Ensemble L’Aminta, both from Austria, and Fair Oriana, from Great Britain, had to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances, the final featured Protean Quartet; ApotropaïK, from France; Ensemble Augelletti, from GB; Harmos Winds, from the Netherlands; Liturina, from GB; Palisander, from GB, and UnderStories, from Italy.

Triple success: ApotropaïK, from France, won the EEEmerging+ Prize, Friends of York Early Music Prize and Cambridge Music Prize

During the two days before the weekend competition, each ensemble presented an informal recital under the guidance of York Early Music Festival artistic advisors John Bryan and Steven Devine.

The aim of these recitals was to give finalists the opportunity to adapt to the performance space and become familiar with the York audience in advance of the competition.

Each group then gave their final recital to a distinguished judging panel at the NCEM, comprising: Edward Blakeman, from BBC Radio 3; Albert Edelman, president of Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne, 2019-2022; Philip Hobbs, Linn Records producer and recording engineer; violinist Catherine Mackintosh and harpsichordist Professor Barbara Willi.

The 2022 competition was presented by John Bryan, Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Huddersfield and a member of the Rose Consort of Viols.

At the end of the competition, judging panel chair Philip Hobbs said: “The last three years have been extraordinary and extremely challenging for all young musicians. The calibre of musicianship we have seen is a tribute to their tenacity and dedication. The standard we see keeps going up and up and I would like to applaud all those who have taken part in this incredible day.”

Story of success: UnderStories, from Italy, won the Most Promising Young Artist prize

NCEM director and festival administrative director Delma Tomlin said: “It was wonderful to see the return of the competition and share the joy of being together again.

“The performances from these seven ensembles were of the highest calibre – congratulations to all. I would like to thank them and extend special thanks to our panel of judges for their hard work and support and to John Bryan and Steven Devine for their expertise and invaluable help.”

The EEEmerging+ Prize, Friends of York Early Music Prize and Cambridge Music Prize were all scooped by ApotropaïK, who performed Bella Donna, music from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.

A cash prize of £1,000 for the Most Promising Young Artist – individual instrumentalist or ensemble specialising in baroque repertoire – was awarded to UnderStories, whose performance featured works by Benedetto Marcello, Antonio Caldara and Antonio Vivaldi.

The competition provided a spectacular finale to the ten-day festival in a return to a full-scale live event that connected friends old and new through concerts, recitals and workshops staged in historic venues around York.

Competition highlights and music from the winning recital will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show later this year.