The foundation

Presentation of the Foundation (irene4strings)

This is a non-profit legal foundation under civil law with its headquarter in Berlin, Germany. It was established in 2011 for the purpose of promoting young European string quartets.

Irene Steels-Wilsing


Patron: Professor Wolfgang Rihm





The Board

Irene Steels-Wilsing

Irene Steels-Wilsing, President

Born in Lörrach. Studied languages at the University of Saarbrücken. 1965 – 2000 translation service of the EU Commission; acquired further languages; head of division.Early in life love of chamber music, especially string quartets. Since 1990 systematic attendance of string quartet competitions in Europe and Canada and private sponsoring of quartets. From 2000 on voluntary activity for the Brussels Lunch Concert Association, since 2010 in charge of programme planning. End of 2011 creation of the Irene Steels-Wilsing Stiftung in Berlin.
Since 2014 artistic director of the Brussels lunch concerts "Concerts de Midi". Continued private support of string quartet events.



Dr. Wolfram Hertel Dr. Wolfram Hertel, vice president

Lawyer specializing in administrative law, partner of RAUE LLP, firm of lawyers, Berlin.
Born and school years in Bayreuth. University studies in Tübingen, Aix-en-Provence and New York. Thanks to music practicing parents very early on lively interest in classical music.
During university summer vacations worked for Bayreuth festival orchestra and helped with organizing national and international competitions.
Since 2001 lawyer with emphasis on consultancy for private companies and public authorities on matters of constitutional and administrative law as well as legal aspects of foundations, donations and non profit making institutions.


Irene Schwalb Irene Schwalb, board member

Born in Bonn. Studied viola with Prof. Jürgen Kussmaul in Düsseldorf. Member and manager of the Minguet Quartet for 20 years with international concert activity. 2008 founded Kozertkontor Schwalb in Cologne, agency specializing in chamber music.
Acted as juror for ARD competition, London String Quartet Competition and Deutscher Musikwettbewerb. Held seminars at several colleges of music, a.o. on self management.
Artistic director of the string quartet festival of "Heidelberger Frühling". Since 2014 project manager "German Music Competition/Federal selection of artists‘ concerts organized by Deutscher Musikrat".



The board appoints a special jury for the auditions.



Edwin Otto Dengel

Mr. Edwin Otto Dengel, special tasks







Purpose of the foundation

The purpose of the Irene Steels-Wilsing Foundation - in short irene4strings - is to promote young European string quartets with the aim of facilitating their professional career, regardless of any additional support they may be receiving from other sources.

Interest in string quartet music has grown strongly over the last few decades, with performances reaching new audiences and venues. Moreover, the new generation of artists benefits from vastly enhanced opportunities to perfect their playing thanks to the increased availability of outstanding teachers, in Europe and elsewhere, combined with ever-growing mobility.

New competitions provide additional incentives. But as the number of young quartets grows, so do the professional challenges. Only truly outstanding and disciplined ensembles achieve breakthrough. Many of them need support, not only at the beginning but also in the critical phase when they have to decide if they can afford to give up any orchestra commitments and to dedicate themselves exclusively to quartet playing, which involves building a wide quartet repertoire.


Forms of Support

The Foundation offers the following form of support:
1. Annual grants for quartets per calendar year and further prizes
2. Other forms of support as may be decided by the Board

The annual grant currently amounts to EUR 12,000. The further prizes amount to 6.000 and 4.000 EUR.

Special Prize

A special prize in the amount of EUR 2,000 may be awarded to any person of particular merit in the field of young string quartets.


Donations and other contributions

The Irene Steels-Wilsing Foundation has been registered as a charitable institution with the Finanzamt I (Revenue Office I) in Berlin. The young foundation welcomes any donations, gifts or other contributions. These may be sent to the account of the foundation at:

Commerzbank Berlin
IBAN: DE75 1204 0000 0133 9373 00

The foundation can furnish receipts for purposes of tax relief upon request. Contributions in kind or otherwise are also welcome at any time.

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