MAURICIO VENEGAS-ASTORGA - director, composer

Having developed his musical career outside Chile, the Chilean composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Mauricio Venegas-Astorga has always had a close interest in the external influences on the music, culture and politics of his country. He has very successfully mixed his own tradition with different musical styles and instruments from around the world and his compositions are a fresh and exciting example of this, showing that he is not afraid of experimenting and approaching different genres, blending Latin American and world music with Tango, Celtic, African and Indian traditions. In addition to his musicianship and skills as a singer and composer, Mauricio’s lyrics deliver a beautiful and strong message of freedom, peace and justice his words will not only touch your hearts but also your consciousness.


Rachel is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and completed the Performance and Communications Skills Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her experience as a performer ranges from classical groups such as London Sinfonietta, the London Philharmonia and Opera Factory to the Palestinian group Sabreen and the Chilean group Quimantu.

Composition work includes scores for theatre and dance companies (Aztec, In House and English Eurythmy Theatre) as well as a violin-teaching book and arrangements for school ensemble, symphonic orchestrations and compositions for Quimantu and Hackney Music Services.

Education projects include the Bath Mozartfest and the Salisbury Festival and improvisation workshops for Pro-Corda, the national school for young chamber music players.

Since settling in England in 1977 he has gained a reputation as one of the finest musicians to emerge from the Latin American folk tradition. He has worked and collaborated with a large number of important figures in the British, African, Indian and Latin American music scenes. These have included the internationally renowned guitarist, John Williams, the composers Richard Harvey and Graham Preskett, the traditional singer-songwriters Roger Watson and Robb Johnson, the Indian Santoor master Kiranpal Singh Deoora, the African drummer Musa Mboob, the Cuban composer Efrain Rios and the Chilean songwriter Jorge Campos.

As a composer Mauricio has written and participated in the creation of more than 30 albums of music for film and television and for Quimantu, with his compositions being featured in films and TV programmes such as Priest, The Honorary Consul, Noel, Best Laid Plans, Stuck On You, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Sex and The City, Law & Order, etc. Widely known for the specialist knowledge he has developed in Latin American and World Music, Mauricio has also contributed as an advisor and composer to a number of television and radio programmes including "Ritmo” and “Kaleidoscope” for BBC Radio 3 and “Music Makers” for BBC TV.

One of his most recent projects was his participation as a recording artist on Dave Arnold’s sound track for the last Bond movie Quantum of Solace. Whilst living in London Mauricio has maintained his artistic profile in Chile and was awarded the “Premio Municipal De Arte” in Coronel, his hometown, for his outstanding contribution to the music and culture of his country. He has also been twice awarded the “Fondo De La Música Award” Fondart by the Chilean Ministry of Culture.  His 2001 Fondart award was for the composition and recording of his Cantata “Socavon” a work that blended western classical with traditional music and musicians to create a testimony to the lives and struggles of the coal miners from the south of Chile. In 2008 he received the award for “Trotasurdo”, a pioneering project aimed at promoting the understanding and use of music technology in composition in primary schools, making use of ambient sound recordings from urban and rural settings and combining classical instruments with traditional ones, mixed with samples, beats and loops.


Jon’s professional career began when he joined Gryphon at the end of 1975, and played on the last studio album recorded by the band – ‘Treason’. He joined at the same time as Graeme Taylor and Malcolm Bennett left the group as part of a significant re-shuffle of personnel. Jon remained in touch with Graeme during the next 3 years or so and, following the split-up of Gryphon, was introduced to Graeme’s fellow Albion Band alumnus Ric Sanders (now long-established member of Fairport Convention) who was looking to form a new jazz-influenced band with fellow ex-member of Soft Machine, John Etheridge. This led to the formation of 2nd Vision who recorded the album ‘First Steps’ for Chrysalis records in 1980.

Jon was touring Europe with Dave Bristow (kbds) and Mickey Barker (dms) as part of a jazz trio employed by Yamaha to showcase their instruments when Graeme once again appeared on the scene and asked Jon if he’d care to join Home Service. As a fan of the Albion Band that included John Tams and Michael Gregory, the offer was eagerly accepted. There followed an extended period of live work, both touring and as a member of what became almost a ‘house band’ at London’s National Theatre, appearing in productions of ‘Dispatches’, ‘The Mysteries’ and ‘Don Quixote’. Jon has performed and recorded with a diverse range of other artists including: Billy Connolly, Ivan Graziani, Andy Cronshaw, June Tabor, Martin Simpson, Gordon Giltrap, John Harle, Desmond Dekker, Michael Nyman, John B. Spencer, Rolf Harris and John Williams. Current projects include recording a new Gryphon album, live work with singer/composer/producer Sandy McLelland, completion of an album with Dave Lambert (Strawbs), Graeme Taylor and violinist Tom Leary under the band name ‘Zeus’, and work on recently recovered live recordings of The Home Service.


Laura attended Theatretrain from the ages of 6-18 developing her skills in singing, theatre, drama and dance, performing annually in West End Theatres such as The Royal Theatre Drury Lane and The Palladium and participating in international festivals in Croatia and in Italy.

As a singer she has performed live with Quimantu at various UK venues over the past five years and recorded vocals for a number of the group’s albums including tracks at the famous Egrem studios in Cuba with the “Raices Cubanas” ensemble for Quimantu’s forthcoming album Mitimaes. Having recently graduated from the famous International School Of Screen Acting in London she is now pursuing a career as a singer, scriptwriter and film actress.

© Harriet Armstrong