"The ensemble El Parnaso Hyspano is an exceptional group of performers who make a rare and highly significant contribution to the world of baroque music".
Louis Demetrius Alvanis
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, from a uniquely informed perspective because Rafael Montero is a descendent of the people who were performing and co-creating this music. The group has a mission to discover and showcase the music that has come from the indigenous people and mestizos of the continent. In this time of postcolonialism they bring an authentic voice from the minorities from Latin America.
Their repertoire includes religious and secular solo cantatas for voice and continuo as well as the famous polyphonic works of the Spanish Renaissance and South American baroque for vocal ensemble with continuo accompaniment.
A project in development is © Barroco Mestiz@, a unique expression of art, architecture and music. The mestizo comes from the fusion between the indigenous population and the Spaniards. It contains many ethnically mixed groups, but one expression of art.
Kate Smith | Soprano
Kate Smith is a vocal artist, composer, and workshop leader whose practice is defined by the search for connections between people and disciplines, voice, and body. She has traveled a diverse artistic path, moving from working in film and music in the US and China to settling in London where she studied classical voice, earned her MMus from The Guildhall, and created The Embodied Voice. Kate is passionate about creating music - and facilitating collective music-making - for voices and bodies in motion; music that transforms our relationship to the body, ultimately breaking down divisions between mind-body-voice, self-other-nature.
With a varied career spanning the worlds of classical singing and vocal improvisation, Kate is an in-demand performer and maker in British vocal theatre. Kate is a member of Verity Standen’s acclaimed Undersong, a creative collaborator with a range of artists (Kima, Re:Sound, Convex), and Artistic Director of THAT! Ensemble, and thriving London-based improvisational movement and voice group. She has performed leading roles with Re:Sound Music Theatre’s opera Thousand Furs, and T;Art Productions Cosi fan Tutti the Remake. Kate 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’s decades of choral experience include singing with 3-time ASCAP award-winning choir Cantori New York, early music (Nine Gates Polyphony), shapenote (Iron Works), contemporary (MUSARC), consort (Guildhall Consort) and more.
Verónica Chacón | Alto
Verónica is a London based versatile mezzo-soprano, voice-over & illustrator-designer originally from Geneva. There, she studied musical theory, choral singing, piano, improvisation & choreography through the Eurhythmics method at the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze, as well sang at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève. Verónica carried on her studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London (1998).
After co-creating with Jérôme Royet Sounds & Shapes Ltd (since 2008), their own company which allows her to reunite music & design, she also runs her own choir, now called V&J Ensemble and is a singing coach specialised in French repertoire. She developed her musical and communication pedagogy in various projects (School-of-Rock-a-by-Babies, from 2009); improvisation (TIC The Improvisers’ Choir - winner of Non-Classical Battle of the Bands 2018 - Dancing with Parkinson’s (2019), THAT! Ensemble (since 2016), a mixed-genre group of 4 musicians and physical theatre comedians which explores vocal improvisation, acting, and dance).
Verónica is also a musician session and voice-over artist recording for School-of-Rock-a-by-Babies ('rest & play', 2016) and for TIC – The Improvisers' Choir (Landmass, 2018).
Her love for Early Music started from a young age when she was a soloist at the age of 13 in the Stabat Mater by Pergolesi.
Her latest work includes a voice & piano programme of French Songs & Jazz Standards for V&J as well as a mandalas & voice album called 'Sounds & Shapes'.
Rafael Montero | Tenor (Founder)
Rafael Montero, founder of El Parnaso Hyspano, is a solo tenor and ensemble singer, singing teacher, and coach.
Rafael’s heritage is native American and Spanish, and he has spoken Quechua 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. He studied singing at the Conservatorio Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina, and then early and chamber music at the Conservatoire de Musique de Neuchatel, Switzerland.
In 2019 he made his London debut with the celebrated pianist Nigel Foster, showcasing classical music by Spanish-American and Spanish-influenced composers. With fortepianist Carole Cerasi he has made the first recordings of the songs of South America’s pre-eminent classical composer, Pedro Ximénez Abril y Tirado. He has researched and devised the programmes that El Parnaso Hyspano presents, drawing on his heritage and wide contacts in the Latin American world. In July 2022 he sang the title role in the UK premiére of Domenico Zipoli’s San Ignacio de Loyola, a baroque opera written for indigenous people from whom he is descended. He is also collaborating with Border Crossings, an intercultural arts organisation founded and directed by Michael Walling, specialising in the presentation of indigenous art forms.
In 2020 he received a prize from Art Foundation NRW for a musical project entitled “Veränderungen” (Transformation) combining Medieval Spanish Works with newly comissioned contemporary music.
John Sloboda | Bass
John Sloboda, OBE, FBA is a singer, pianist, conductor, and researcher. He is a founder member of the vocal quartet of El Parnaso Hyspano.
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, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus.
At Keele University he was founder conductor of the Keele Bach Choir and conducted performances of many major works including Monteverdi’s Vespers and Bach’s Mass in B Minor. He is currently Assistant Conductor of Chorus of Dissent, a community choir based in Hackney, London.
He trained as a pianist with Else Cross and has specialised in accompanying, currently working with the tenor Rafael Montero. Their debut concert was hosted by the Instituto Katarina Gurska, Madrid, in April 2020 as an academic-artistic contribution to the debate about new concert formats under the restrictions of Covid-19.
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.
He is author of many books, including “Exploring the Musical Mind”. In 2018 he was awarded the OBE for services to Psychology and Music.
Katarzyna Kowalik | Harpsichord & Organ
Katarzyna Kowalik is a London based harpsichordist and early keyboard specialist of Polish origins. She completed her Master Degree in Historical Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London (MPerf 2012) with Carole Cerasi, James Johnstone, and Nicholas Parle, obtaining The City of London Corporation Award (2011) and Guildhall School Trust Award (2010). She was also awarded a prestigious Guildhall Artist Fellowship in both 2012 and 2013. Katarzyna also trained at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw between 2000-2011: Piano Masters (MA 2005), Harpsichord Masters (MA 2011).
Katarzyna mastered her skills in the Piccola Accademia in Montisi studying with Christophe Rousset (2012) and Skip Sempé (2015 in Utrecht, 2017 in Paris) as well as with Ilton Wjuniski at the Académie Musicale de Villecroze (2011).
Katarzyna has performed in many prestigious concert venues in the UK and internationally, as a soloist and with many groups and orchestras such as Amadè Players, Brandenburg Baroque Soloists, Classical Opera, Double Entendre, Fiori Musicali, Literary Music, Little Baroque Company, London Concertante, London Musical Arts Orchestra, Music for Awhile, La Serenissima, Opera Lyrica and Royal Baroque.
In 2015 Katarzyna was a participant of the Handel House Talent Scheme - a programme to further the career development of promising young professional baroque music performers. She also won a Basso Continuo Prize at the ‘Gianni Gambi’ Competition in Pesaro (Italy).
Katarzyna’s CDs include ‘Forgotten Vienna’ with The Amadè Players (Resonus Classics 2015), Meilyr Jones’s album ‘2013’ as well as ‘French Collection’ solo harpsichord CD (2018). She has also recorded for BBC Radio1.
Katarzyna works as a harpsichord and basso continuo teacher at Morley College in London, and private piano and harpsichord teacher.
Fabio Fernandes | Lute & Guitar
Fábio Fernandes is a young classical guitarist and lutenist at the beginning of a promising career. At the age of 18, he moved to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where he completed both his Bachelor in Music with Honours in 2018 and his Masters in Classical Guitar Performance with Distinction in 2020 under the guidance of Robert Brightmore, David Miller, Graham Devine and Jørgen Skogmo. Throughout his studies, Fábio was generously supported by the Adele Kramar-Chappell Award, Help Musicians UK, the Henry Wood Trust and the Charity of Mary Barnes.
In 2020 Fábio was invited to be a Junior Fellow at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Fábio recently obtained a 2nd Prize in the 21st Ivor Mairants Guitar Award 2021 and a 3rd Prize in the Concorso di Chitarra "Gaetano Marziali" 2021. An eager and confident performer, he participated in both solo and ensemble concerts in Portugal, England, Czech Republic and Poland. Recent highlights include recitals at the Barbican Centre, St. James’s Church Piccadilly, Milton Court Music Hall and a concert as soloist in Carulli’s Concerto in G major for Flute, Guitar and Orchestra with the Orquestra Con Spirito.
Alongside his performing of the traditional guitar repertoire, Fábio started playing the lute and theorbo in 2015 with David Miller and James Johnstone. He was notably invited by Dame Emma Kirkby to join her project Dowland Works. He performed alongside members of Academy of Ancient Music at the Deal Festival and also participated in the London Handel Festival during the GSMD Cantata Project.
Furthermore, Fábio is also highly engaged with music writing, collaborating regularly with young composers.
Pablo Tejedor Gutiérrez | Cello & Gamba
Pablo Tejedor-Gutiérrez is a cello and gamba player specialising in Historical Performance. He studied in Spain, Switzerland (Haute école de Musique) and the UK (Royal College of Music), with teachers including Bruno Cocset, Aldo Mata, Lucia Swarts, Reiko Ichise, Christophe Coin or Kristin von der Goltz.In an incessant pursuit of inspiration, Pablo has been lucky enough to take part in projects with well-known artists such as William Christie, Philippe Herreweghe, Ashley Solomon, Ophélie Gaillard, Martin Gester, Geoffroy Jourdain, Leonardo García Alarcón, Bojan Cicic or Laurence Cummings.
Increasingly in demand as a player, Pablo currently enjoys a busy career touring internationally, from Bolivia to Italy and from Portugal to Belgium, performing in mythical venues such as the Victoria Hall and the Teatro Real and prestigious festivals such as Ambronay, Utrecht or Saintes. His performance abilities have been recognized by various institutions, having accepted awards from the BritishSpanish Society, the Foundation Wilsdorf, and the City Council of Madrid. Pablo can be found playing historically informed creative bass lines (and some solo ones too) in many different ensembles from Baroque to Romantic répertoire, including famous groups like Le Parlement de Musique or Holland Baroque.
Future engagements and projects include concerts not only in the UK, but also in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, and exciting programmes of forgotten music from the 18th and 19th centuries. When he is not performing, Pablo works as a pedagogue for various Londonian music institutions and is an independent researcher on cultural history, having published different articles and papers on the Enlightenment. Please visit his website for more information: https://earlycello.wixsite.com/pablotejedor
Johnny Figueroa Rodriguez| Percussion & Wind
Johnny is a multi instrumentalist, who specialises in Andean wind instruments, and is based in the UK. He was born in Trujillo, Peru, and possesses a very strong Andean heritage, with music being a huge importance in his life, an art that has passed from one generation to the next. Johnny joined local bands to which they performed in Perú and South America before travelling to Europe performing in concerts and festivals. Some notable places including Glastonbury, Womad and the Eden Project. Johnny has worked for the BBC, the British Museum, and Hornimans Museum. He teaches Andean instruments such as Quena, Sikus and Charango at Royal Holloway University of London, also runs workshops at schools and community centres. Johnny is very much involved with local communities and supports Oldaloneuk, teaching guitar for the older generation. “todo acto o voz genial, viene del pueblo y va hacia él” (Cesar Vallejo).