The seven judges looked on solemnly right after 11 p.m. on Saturday night as Banff International String Quartet Competition director Barry Shiffman announced the three finalists.
The three quartets that get to perform in one last, all-Beethoven round are, in performance order, the Navarra Quartet, whose members hail from the U.K., Ireland and Holland, Quatuor Cavatine from France and the Dover Quartet, from the United States.
There are no Canadian musicians among the finalist ensembles.
All three quartets have received prizes in other competitions and have enjoyed extensive additional training and mentoring. The Navarrans are the veterans of the three, having come together at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England in 2002. They enjoy a full professional concert calendar and have released four CDs.
The Cavatines are newcomers, having constituted themselves at the Paris Conservatoire in 2010. Four students at the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia came together to found the Dover in 2008. They have in a short time produced three albums and also have steady professional engagements across the United States this coming season.
Once the audience and jury have heard these three finalists perform, the final results, including the list of winners of the Haydn and Canadian composition prizes, will be announced on Sunday afternoon.
The live stream of the all-Beethoven quartet programme begins at 4 p.m. Eastern on Sunday here. The Navarra and Dover have chosen to perform Op. 59, No. 2, while Cavatine takes on the great Op. 130, complete with Grosse Fuge.