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When Second Is Best

Omer Quartet takes top prize at Borciani, a competition where other graduates of NEC's Professional String Quartet Training Program are prior prizewinners.

The Omer Quartet, who completed New England Conservatory's Professional String Quartet Training Program this spring, were awarded Second Prize at the International String Quartet Competition "Premio Paolo Borciani," which ended June 12. A first prize has only been awarded in six of the ten occurrences of this competition, and this year's lacked a first prize. The quartet receives €10,000.

Held approximately every three years since 1987, the Borciani competition takes place in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and is named after the citizen of that town who was founder and first violin of the Quartetto Italiano.

The first two participants in NEC's Professional String Quartet Training Program are past prizewinners. In 2002, the year the Kuss Quartet completed the NEC program, they took First Prize at the Borciani, and shared a special prize (with the Pacifica Quartet) for best performance of the commissioned work by Wolfgang Rihm. In 2005, a year after completing the NEC program, the Biava Quartet received a special Fourth Prize given by Irene Steels-Wilsing of Brussels "in memory of an unforgettable week."

The Kuss Quartet is still active, and while the Biava Quartet is not, violinist Austin Hartman '04 M.M. of that quartet has recently joined the Pacifica Quartet, who took Second Prize at the Borciani competition in 2002. This is the first member change in 17 years for the Pacifica Quartet, who have been touring since 1994.