The Final Concert, held on Saturday, May 17, 2014, with the Zagreb Philharmonics conducted by Tomislav Fačini, closed the 1st Josip Nochta International Saxophone Competition in Zagreb. Juan Pedro Luna Agudo, a competitor from Spain, was chosen as the winner among 42 other candidates, while Croatian candidate Lovro Merčep won the third prize.
Between May 12 and May 17, 2014 Zagreb was the host of the 1st Josip Nochta International Saxophone Competition, celebrating the 90th birthday of the first saxophone professor at the Music Academy in Zagreb, Josip Nochta, and the Adolphe Sax bicentennial.
The competition gathered a total of 42 candidates from 15 countries (Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Croatia, Italy, Latvia, China, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Serbia).
Ten competitors were chosen for the second round: Sara Beriša (Slovenia), Lucija Hraščanec (Croatia), Goran Jurković (Croatia), Juan Pedro Luna Agudo (Spain), Lovro Merčep (Croatia), Valentine Michaud (France), Ryo Nakajima (Japan), Tomotaka Nohara (Japan), Aljaž Razdevšek (Slovenia), Dmitri Uvarov (Russia). Four of them went on to the final round. The international board of judges - Eugene Rousseau, chairman (United States), Arno Bornkamp (The Netherlands), Claude Delangle (France), Matjaž Drevenšek (Slovenia), Dragan Sremec (Croatia), Gordan Tudor (Croatia) and Pavle Dešpalj (Croatia) chose Spanish competitor Juan Pedro Luna Agudo as the winner, followed by Sara Beriša, Lovro Merčep and Dmitri Uvarov.
Through all three rounds the competitors were given an opportunity to perform works written by Croatian composers: Quarter Tone Waltz by Gordan Tudor (1st round), 22 per 2 in 2 by Dubravko Detoni (2nd round), and Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Strings by Pavle Dešpalj in the final round, which was performed with the Zagreb Philharmonics conducted by maestro Tomislav Fačini.
The idea for the competition came from Dragan Sremec, professor and vice-dean at the Music Academy. Zagreb Concert Management in collaboration with the Music Academy in Zagreb, Zagreb Philharmonics, and the Croatian Music Institute handled the organization of the competition, while the funding came from the City of Zagreb.
1st International Saxophone Competition – award winners
1st prize - Juan Pedro Luna Agudo, Spain
2nd prize - Sara Beriša, Slovenia
3rd prize - Lovro Merčep, Croatia
4th prize - Dmitri Uvarov, Russia
The Award of the Croatian Composers' Society for the best performance of mandatory composition by Croatian composer in one of the three rounds: Sara Beriša, Slovenia (for P. Dešpalj's Concerto)
The Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra Award (a concert with the Orchestra during the season for the best ranked Croatian competitor): Lovro Merčep
The Croatian Youth Award (a seminar in Grožnjan for a promising Croatian competitor under 30 years of age): Lucija Hraščanec
Roberto Buttus Awards (a voucher for instrument repair for two top ranked Croatian competitors): Lovro Merčep, Goran Jurković
Audience Award for the best performance in the final round (a gold coin with a motif of Zagreb) Juan Pedro Luna Agudo, Spain