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Photo: Trio Messiaen

David Pastor on The Lyon International Chamber Music Competition

The 19th edition of the competition will take place in Lyon, France from April 23rd to 26th and will be streamed live on The Violin Channel


The 2024 Lyon International Chamber Music Competition (CIMCL) has named the string quartets who will perform in the competition's live rounds between April 23 and 26, 2024.

The seven quartets competing this year are:

  • Arete Quartet, Seoul
  • Goldberg Quartet, Milano
  • Hesper Quartet, New York
  • Ineo Quartet, Wien
  • Modulor Quartet, Zürich
  • Varen Quartet, Paris
  • Wassily Quartet, Lyon


Tune in to The Violin Channel from April 23-26 to watch all rounds of this year's string quartet competition!

Ahead of this exciting event, we caught up with David Pastor, founder of CIMCL and organizer of the event, to learn more.

Photo: Karol Miczka

Tell us about the Lyon International Chamber Music Competition. When and how was it founded?

The competition came from the imagination of Joël Nicod, who was a horn player with the Lyon Orchestra and professor of chamber music at the Lyon Conservatory. He wanted to share his belief that chamber music was not only about being in the company of marvelous works but also about providing an ideal listening exercise for an orchestral musician. In short, chamber music is one of the greatest schools of musicianship.

I am a horn player as well and just 20 years younger than Joël. He and I met on opposite sides of the stage of the Lyon Conservatory, him as a jury and me as a student. After my Master's degree, I joined an orchestra and started a Master's degree in cultural business development at the University of Lyon, which gave me the tools to organize cultural events. Joël and I got closer and completed the competition team with Nicolas Cardoze, bassoonist at the Lyon Opera, and Marie-Thérèse Aulas, then director of communications at the Lyon Opera.

The Lyon competition draws its strength from the collaborations established with the city's musical institutions: the Regional Conservatory, the Superior Conservatory, the University Lumière Lyon 2 (which hosts a Department of Musicology,) the Opera Orchestra, and the Auditorium Orchestra… This is very fertile ground for our organization!


Each year, the competition presents a different chamber music configuration. Why this choice?

Chamber music is multifaceted and composers have focused more strongly on certain configurations for reasons such as sound balances, complementarity, proximity of timbres, etc.

We have thus identified 6 major groups that combine both a great wealth of repertoire and professional opportunities. You can find recurring programming of these configurations in concert seasons and festivals: Piano, violin, cello trio / String quartet / Violin and piano duo / Cello and piano duo / Voice and piano duo / Wind quintet.


This year is dedicated to the string quartet. Can you tell us about the jury who will judge the competition?

We have assembled a jury of inspiring musical personalities. The idea is to find a balance between generations, genders, profiles, and geographical origins. The jury will be presided over by Luc-Marie Aguera (violinist of the Ysaÿe Quartet) and will bring together Marie Chilemme (violist of the Ebène Quartet), Mihaela Martin (violinist of the Michelangelo Quartet), Goran Konçar (violinist of the Zagreb Quartet) and Kyril Zlotnikov (cellist of the Jerusalem Quartet).


In your opinion, what is the role of competitions in a young chamber music ensemble career?

The Lyon competition is part of a network of international competitions, which constitute different stages in the trajectory of young ensembles. A victory in a competition is a sign of recognition and a prospect for professional opportunities. However, one victory is not enough. You also need ambition, an artistic project, educational and entrepreneurial support, stability in the group — and as Alexandre Snitkovski, luthier and member of the competition management, likes to point out — luck!


What qualities are you looking for in a prize-winning string quartet?

Sometimes, an ensemble that wins 3rd prize has a better career than the one that won 1st prize. In reality, a prize is a photograph at that given moment and, above all, a showcase and an encouragement to continue in that direction.

We want to contribute to the emergence of ensembles with a strong identity and reveal personalities rather than just virtuosity. But, our position as organizers is distant from the results. We entrust the jury, which we want to be representative of the major musical trends and different accomplished career models, with the task of choosing artists who will be able to convince, convey emotion, and explore the different repertoires with happiness and sincerity.


What prizes will the winners receive?

Winners will receive 25,000 € in cash prizes and around ten professional commitments, including a very nice invitation from the La Belle Saison network for several concerts and residencies. In addition, winners will have the opportunity for a residency at the “Villecroze Musical Academy" with Miguel da Silva in 2025 — plus several invitations from the “Palazzetto Bru Zane” in Venice, “Le Prieuré de Chirens,” “Musée en musique de Grenoble,” “Les  Classiques du Prieuré” at Bourget du Lac, “Jeunes Talents” in Paris, France musique (“Le Live” de Clément Rochefort), Radio France Festival of Montpellier Occitanie, the “Quattro Stagioni Festival” of Pietra Santa, and “Les Concerts de Poche.”


Can you tell us about your past winners?

A few ensembles punctuate our memories including the 2021 competition winners Duo Galy-González. The competition was entirely remote because of COVID-19, so we produced broadcasts of the competition recitals, interviews with the jury and patrons, and portraits of the candidates. The candidates were recorded all over the world at their places of residence because we couldn’t easily travel internationally. 

We then welcomed only the 3 duo finalists to Lyon for the final. They performed at the Salle Molière, empty of spectators with only the jury and the eyes of the cameras to broadcast the recitals. It was a real joy to get together and play “in person” again. 

The personalities of Manon Galy and Jorge González, who shared both their professional and personal lives, were very endearing. Manon won the “Victoires de la Musique” as a “Revelation instrumental soloist” a few months later.

I also often think of the Hermès Quartet, which was formed for the Lyon competition in 2009 and subsequently took off.

The Van Baerle Trio had violinist Maria Milstein, who is the daughter of Natacha Milstein, a violist at the Lyon opera. The group became a bit like the local public favorite of the 2011 competition. 

And then, another favorite is the Duo formed by Hagar Sharvit (mezzo) and Daniel Gerzenberg (pianist), who won 2nd prize at the 2019 competition, with wonderful personalities and sincere artistic commitment.

Not everyone can win first prize in a competition and as organizers, we want to talk about all our winners… which is not so simple!!


How is the competition integrated into the city and region of Lyon?

The competition is becoming more and more like a festival. The limited number of candidates selected to come to Lyon makes it possible to build and announce a program well in advance. We hear the ensembles in several recitals which gives them the opportunity to present different facets of their aesthetic and personalities. The programs are free and few (if any) parts are imposed. This provides a wide spectrum of works to be heard without redundancy, which is often the pitfall of competitions for the public interest.

Since 2018, we have invited one or more additional instruments to participate in the final event, acting as disruptive elements and allowing us to see the agility of the ensembles, their ability to integrate an instrumentalist within their ensemble on the spot on stage, with very few rehearsals. It's something that happens regularly in chamber musicians’ careers and a welcome detour for listeners!

The succession of recitals and the jury's deliberations creates an eventful crescendo towards the final round and the proclamation of the results.


What does the Lyon International Chamber Music Competition have in store for us in the years to come?

We are working towards a voice and piano edition, for the opportunity to return to lied and melody. It is a fascinating lyrical universe and very separate from the world of opera. Poetry dominates, and intimacy and intensity will be the adjectives of this next edition! I would love to be able to tackle the Wind Quintet again in 2026… to be continued!

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