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Saturday 22nd May 2021

El Parnaso Hyspano

St John The Baptist Church
Directions to John The Baptist Church, Ripe


Hispanic Early Music Ensemble:
Bringing Ancient Music to the New World


Kate Smith (soprano)

Verónica Chacón (alto)

Rafael Montero (tenor)

John Sloboda (bass)

Toby Carr (theorbo/guitar)

Shaun Marten (flute)

Early Music from the New World - Programme

click to download the programme

Buy tickets online, or by email from or by phoning 01323 811835.


The concert will also be available online via ZOOM. Tickets for the online event are available for £5 by clicking the BUY ZOOM TICKET button.


The conquest of Latin America was characterised by ambition, boldness, cruelty and related to the rare metals discovered there, particularly silver and gold. The story of Latin America was marked by the ambitions of the European kings, who wanted the silver and gold for their own goals and purpose. But what they didn't know is that real gold and silver was the magnificent baroque music that was born from the mixing of indigenous music with the European styles and instruments. Later the African slaves brought their rhythm and enriched this music, which first came from Spain to America and then back to Spain with these new influences.
The first written works were religious hymns, for the native Americans, incorporating elements of symbolism from both Christian and ancient indigenous religions in a sort of religious syncretism.  This programme contains music of Christmas and Passiontide, the most important religious celebrations but with the influence and the characteristic colour of native traditions.  The dance is a very special component of the native American cultures, which connected those living on earth with the Gods living in the heavens. One of these dances, the Chacona, was born in the jungles of South America, and came back to Europe with its sensual movements to and became the queen of the dances, that even Monteverdi, Lully, and Bach adapted in in their own style.


EL PARNASO HYSPANO is an international chamber group of singers and instrumentalists dedicated to the performance of early Hispanic music, ranging from the medieval to the baroque and early classical.  Our repertoire encompasses Spain and Latin America, with a specialism in the music of “Golden Age” [El Siglo de Oro 1500-1700] when the Spanish empire was at its height.   In this time there was a wealth of musical creativity in the major cultural and religious centres, particularly in what afterwards became Bolivia and Peru, the richest viceroyalties of South America.  Much of this music is only now being recently rediscovered and published for contemporary performance, and the group showcases the richness of the Hispanic musical legacy of the Americas.  They help to make known music written in native American languages, such as Quechua, Guarani, Nahuatl and Mochica, an extinct language.

El Parnaso Hyspano is the artistic vision of its founder Rafael Montero, begun in Cologne in 2016, and since 2020 involving professional musicians based in London, but with international heritage, bringing not only musical but cultural enrichment, contributing to a multicultural dialogue.  


The group’s London debut was in December 2020, performing Latin American Baroque Christmas Music, including the African-inspired Negrillas, blending voices with instrumenta and percussion.


Kate is a vocal artist, composer and workshop leader who is passionate about creating music, and facilitating collective music-making, for voices and bodies in motion. Having earned her MMus in classical voice from The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Kate enjoys a diverse artistic career spanning the worlds of classical singing to vocal improvisation. She is a cast member of Verity Standen’s acclaimed Undersong, Artistic Director of THAT! Ensemble and creator of The Embodied Voice. She has worked for and performed at the TATE Exchange, The London Charterhouse, Hundred Years Gallery, The Nest Collective, The Barbican, Greenwich Dance, Cyphers Theatre Company, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and more.

Kate Smith, El Parnaso Hyspano
Veronica Chacon - El Parnaso Hyspano

Verónica is a versatile mezzo soprano who is particularly passionate about the physicality of the human voice. This passion has allowed her to explore different vocal universes : improvisation (The Improvisers' Choir, THAT Ensemble, Dancing with Parkinson's),  jazz and French songs (V&J), Early Music, Romantic and Classical as Conductor for V&J Ensemble. Verónica is also a voiceover artist, illustrator and designer.  She is delighted to be part of El Parnasso Hispano from its inception.


Founder of El Parnaso Hyspano, Rafael is a solo tenor and ensemble singer, singing teacher, and coach. Rafael’s heritage is Inca and Spanish, and he has spoken Quichua since he was a child  He specialises in renaissance Spanish and South American Baroque music and also in romantic and contemporary chamber music from Hispanic South America and Spain. Rafael studied singing at the Conservatorio Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina, and then in early and chamber music at the Conservatoire de Musique de Neuchatel, Switzerland. In 2016, he created the first Ancient Music Festival in Jujuy, Argentina "Xuxuy Barroco" . In 2019 he made his London debut with the celebrated pianist Nigel Foster, showcasing  classical music by Spanish-American and Spanish-influenced composers.  Most recently with fortepianist Carole Cerasi he has made the first recordings of the songs of South America’s pre-eminent classical composer, Pedro XImenez Abril y Tirado.

Rafael Montero - El Parnaso Hyspano
John Sloboda  -  El Parnaso Hyspano

John Sloboda, OBE, FBA is a singer, pianist, conductor, and researcher.  He has sung with many groups including the Chapel Choir of the Queen’s College Oxford, the Chorus of the Academy of St Martin’s in the Field, the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, and the City Chamber Choir. At Keele University he was founder conductor of the Keele Bach Choir and is currently Assistant Conductor of Chorus of Dissent, a community choir based in Hackney, London.   He is also a music psychologist, currently Research Professor at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where one of his major interests has been the psychology of the live concert, and how to enhance the audience experience.


A lutenist and guitarist from London, Toby Carr is known as an engaging and responsive artist, performing with some of the finest musicians in the business. Having studied at Trinity Laban and the Guildhall School he is now active as a soloist, continuo player and chamber musician with a varied diary of work in the field of historically informed performance, bringing old music to new audiences in exciting and innovative ways.

This has included working many of the foremost period instrument groups in the UK and beyond, including Dunedin Consort, Academy of Ancient Music, Early Opera Company, La Nuova Musica and Irish Baroque Orchestra.

Toby Carr

Toby has also worked for the Royal Ballet, London Philharmonic Orchestra, RTE Symphony Orchestra, Longborough Festival Opera and for English Touring Opera for four tours from 2016-2020. Toby is a founding member of Ceruleo and Lux Musicae London, and appears on a recent recording of the works of Barbara Strozzi by Fieri Consort. In 2019 he made his Wigmore Hall debut with Dame Emma Kirkby and her group Dowland Works.

Settled in south-east London with his wife and frequent collaborator, baroque harpist Aileen Henry, Toby’s interests outside of music include cooking and traveling, though when not working he generally tries to do as little as possible.


Shaun gained a recorder teaching diploma from Trinity College London and studied recorder with Marianne Mezger and traverso with Neil McClaren. He has played concerti with Brighton Chamber Orchestra and Kent Baroque and appeared with New Music Brighton. He has played for local choirs and the US chamber group Echoing Air on their annual visits to England.

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