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On Thursday 25th November we found ourselves on a plane on our way to Seville, with our saxophones and a long day ahead of us. But this Andalusian city was not our final destination, as we would be spending the next few days in Villafranca de los Barros, a charming town of approximately 13,000 inhabitants in the province of Badajoz. It is the venue of the annual Concurso Internacional de Jóvenes Intérpretes Pedro Bote, an event that brings together the best international musicians and which this year has celebrated its 14th edition. In this article we will tell you about our experience in this wonderful competition, where we have been treated so well and from which we have the best memories.

After a bus journey of more than two hours and a short walk through the rain, we arrived at Casa Perín, the accommodation where we stayed during those days and where, by the way, we were very comfortable. "The house brings luck", said the housekeeper. Our "I wish" as a reply turned after a couple of days into a "well, she was right"!

The day after arriving in Villafranca, on Friday 26 November, 12 contestants took part in the selection phase, which took up the whole morning and part of the afternoon, making it possible for us to attend to many of the performances of our fellow contestants, who from the very first moment showed their high level.

Together with 7 other participants, we went through to the semifinal on Saturday 27th, which for us was a huge achievement and gave us the valuable opportunity to once again perform on stage the original repertoire for saxophone quartet, especially that of current composers such as Guillermo Lago or Héctor Parra. After all, they are the ones who make us grow, who give life to the quartet and make the infinite possibilities of the saxophone family known.

Reaching the final on Sunday 28th was quite a surprise, taking into account the incredible level of all the participants, who were also great people with whom we were lucky enough to share these days. Interestingly, the final was full of singing thanks to the voices of the soprano María del Mar Machado Morán and the soprano and piano duo Dúo Lilium, with whom it was a real pleasure to share such an important moment for us. Once again, it was an honour to be able to play once more the huge works of our repertoire, such as Alexander Glazounov's Quartet for Saxophones and works from the contemporary repertoire such as Der Blutige Schaffner (Bloody Reviewer)by Robin Hoffmann or Fragments Striés by Héctor Parra, with which we won the Prize for the best performance of a piece by a Spanish composer. During all the phases of the competition we felt a real connection between us, a total control that made us travel beyond the notes and allowed us to get excited and enjoy each performance. For us receiving the second prize ex aequo with Dúo Lilium, added to the prize for the best performance of a work by a Spanish composer, was a recognition of all our constant effort, full of illusion, that was born in October 2019 and that continues today with more strength than ever.

We would like to take advantage of this small article to highlight and give special recognition to the work and treatment of the members of the organization and the members of the jury Justo Romero López, Miguel Espejo Pla, Iluminada Pérez Frutos, Carmen Solís and Enrique Palomares Chofre. Their close and friendly treatment of all the participants, their humility and affection made us feel very comfortable both on and off the stage, chatting and sharing experiences and anecdotes at the snacks they offered us in the cafeteria of the Casa de la Cultura.We cannot forget to congratulate María del Mar Machado, who won the first prize in this edition of the contest and, of course, the rest of the participants for their high level and comradeship.

You can also see by clicking here a critique of the president of the jury Justo Romero about the three participants of the final. Thank you very much Justo for appreciating our work and dedicating these beautiful words to us!

This humane and helpful treatment extends to all the people from Villafranca we met on this trip and who made us feel at home.

Without a doubt, we took with us one of the best experiences we had as a quartet. Thank you Pedro Bote! Thank you Villafranca!


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