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After a few weeks of intense rehearsals and farewells marked by nostalgia, we ended up on a plane bound for Santander on Thursday 7 July at midday. Our objective: to give our best in the Concurso Internacional de Música de Cámara de Arnuero, which this year celebrated its 19th edition.

Things were looking good, even before we arrived at our destination. This was the first of all the competitions we had attended that fully paid for our accommodation and paid for a large part of our travel expenses. What's more, from the day we arrived until we were on our way to the airport to take our return flight, we had a taxi driver who was in charge of our transport. Thank you very much for everything, Inma!

We were assigned a great accommodation in the hotel El Marinero de la Isla, in the town of Isla, where we could enjoy a huge and wonderful beach, which undoubtedly helped us in our preparation and mental rest before the contest.

This competition is also special for another reason, and that is that before our participation in the semi-final on the 9th, on Friday 8th July we were able to enjoy the performance of the members of the jury Alejandro Saiz (violin) and Enrique Lapaz (piano) in the Iglesia de la Asunción in Arnuero. In addition, in the first part of the programme, we witnessed the premiere of two works, also by two other members of the jury: Plenitud, by Mario Carro and Lucifer del azul: el mar, by Mauricio Sotelo. Among the audience we found the smile of Luz Orihuela, presenter of the programme Andante con moto on Radio Nacional Clásica, thus completing the group of 5 great professionals who would evaluate our performances over the next few days.

This edition was marked by the scarcity of participants, as in previous years the number of groups in this semi-final was more than double. Nevertheless, the competition organisers and the jury itself highlighted the quality of the participating groups. The first presential phase was held on Saturday 9 July at 16:00 in the afternoon in the Salvador Hedilla centre in the town of Castillo. In the semi-final, the 3 participants of this edition had to perform a single movement of the 3 works we had submitted to the competition. In our case, we performed Etude IV: Phantom Galop from the Fantasy Etudes by William Albright, the second movement Andante from the Quartet for saxophones by Alfred Desenclos and the Scherzo from the work Andante et Scherzo by Eugène Bozza.

Photos of our semi-final performance

After the performances of the Trio Vinculos (violin, piano and accordion), the string quartet Cuarteto Iberia and us, Lítore Quartet, the jury decided that the three groups would participate in the final on Sunday 10th in the Casa de las Mareas in Soano. We had to perform Alfred Desenclos' Quartet for saxophones, a mainstay of our repertoire that we are very fond of. Our colleagues from the Trío Vínculos will perform Estaciones Porteñas by Ástor Piazzolla and the Cuarteto Iberia will play the String Quartet No. 6 Op. 80 by Felix Mendelssohn.

At 18:00 the Casa de las Mareas de Soano was flooded with people, who enjoyed the event surrounded by unique scenery and, above all, music. After the performances and a long deliberation, we knew the jury's verdict, with a happy ending for all the groups. Our colleagues from the Trío Vínculos won the prize for the most outstanding Cantabrian group and the Ricardo Hortañón Award for the most outstanding performance of a post-1945 work. The Cuarteto Iberia won the Second Prize and, in addition, their violinist Marta Peño Arcenillas won the Jesús de Monasterio Award for the most outstanding violinist. It was a joy and an honour for us, in front of such good rivals and such a professional jury, to win the First Prize in this competition, which will also allow us to perform in the concert series Creando futuros of the Centro Botín in Santander. Congratulations to all the participants for their high level and for joining us in this experience!

Click on the photo!

Thanks to all the members of the jury: Mauricio, Luz, Alejandro, Mario and Enrique, for your professionalism and the advice you shared with us after the final, showing us your human side, an aspect that many other juries, curiously, tend to hide.

We would like to thank the entire organisation of the competition for their extraordinary attention. It is unusual to have such close and attentive treatment, 24 hours a day, in a competition of this kind, and we are very grateful for it. Many thanks to Marco for facilitating our access to the rehearsal places, your joy and sympathy from the first moment and your constant attention. Special thanks to Antonio, the person who makes this contest possible and who takes care of improving it every year, always with a kind and generous treatment towards the participating groups. From here we want to highlight the value of these people, who dedicate many hours to cultural projects in support to young people with enthusiasm and who are not normally valued as they deserve.

This has been the culmination of the first stage of Lítore Quartet, a project that began with great enthusiasm and excitement in October 2019 and which aims to evolve in the future in order to continue to support the formation of saxophone quartets and disseminate their repertoire. Even so, above these professional objectives, lives a common feeling and a human product, which has had to face many obstacles to achieve recognition such as this. Behind an award there are countless hours of rehearsal, management time and personal ups and downs. Today it is our turn to savour the fruits that we have worked so hard to sow and make grow.

Click on the image to listen to us on Radio Clásica!


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