Quimantu has always been very active in the UK and abroad with a busy programme of touring concerts, festivals, recordings and education and outreach work. Highlights for 2017 include a concert at St John’s Smith Square, London for the Chilean Embassy, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the legendary Chilean songwriter Violeta Parra, a headline performance at El Sueño Existe Festival, and a tour to Chile for a series of concerts, television and radio appearances.
Other international festival appearances over the years have been at the highly prestigious Rose of Tralee and Letterkenny International Festivals in Eire, the International Festival of Music and Dance in Cyprus, Abbracciamondo Festival Italy and Cheoyong Culture Festival in Ulsan South Korea. UK festivals have included Skye World Music Festival, Chichester Festivities, Guildford Spring Festival, The London Guitar Festival, Day-Mer Festival, Sidmouth, Larmer Tree and Broadstairs.
Since 2015 Quimantu has had a base at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in London (www.lyric.co.uk), where the group gave the first live performance in June 2016 of the Cantata Socavón (composed by Mauricio Venegas-Astorga), as part of the festival Voces Chilenas en Gran Bretaña 2016. This unique festival, under the artistic direction of Quimantu’s Mauricio Venegas-Astorga was launched by Quimantu to provide a platform for the creative voices of Chilean musicians and artists based in the UK. Amongst the many other cultural initiatives that Quimantu has spearheaded was the Peña Palo Brujo at Mostart Centre in London 2014-15, which became a home for UK based and international Chilean musicians.
Quimantu has worked and collaborated with many nationally and internationally renowned musicians and composers. The group’s 2003 sell-out UK tour with special guest, international guitarist John Williams and multi-instrumentalist and composer Richard Harvey, and the 2004 tour to Chile, which included Illapu’s Eric Maluenda alongside Williams & Harvey as guest artists, were particularly memorable. Other very fruitful musical partnerships and projects have been with Graham Preskett and Jon Davie, English folk songwriters Steve Knightley and Roger Watson, Musa Mboob and Yemisi Obasaju from The Gambia and Nigeria respectively, Ratsko Rašić (Serbia), from Chile Jorge Campos and Los Hermanos Millar, from Cuba el Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro and Efraín Ríos, from Uruguay such as Pájaro Canzani, and from India such as Kiranpal Singh Deoora.
Regular concerts in London have taken place in various notable venues including the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and Purcell Room, the Barbican Hall, Blackheath Concert Halls and the London Palladium, and in Paris at the Folies Bergère. With a very strong commitment to the power of music to connect people and build bridges between communities rural touring has regularly been a part of Quimantu’s agenda. Tours for Artsreach in Dorset, Roots Around the World in Sussex and Hampshire, and in the Scottish Highlands and Islands with funding from the PRS Foundation have taken Quimantu’s distinctive global sound to packed out audiences in village halls around the country, bringing the world of music into every corner of the community.
In the recording studio Quimantu has a strong track record for albums featuring the group’s virtuosic quality and breadth of musical expression and outstanding production. The latest 2017 release “Cantos…”, is Quimantu’s 14th commercial album, a dazzling selection of new songs featuring the wonderful voice of Laura Venegas-Rojas. A powerful interpreter of both the Latin American folk song tradition and British contemporary songs, Laura’s evocative and deeply emotional vocal style has brought a new audience to Quimantu’s work since she began to take more of a leading role in the vocals for songs.
The previous 2011 album Mitimaes and 2006 release Malabarisias demonstrated Quimantu’s hallmark sound “weaving bridges between the ancient and the modern, the distant and the local, the past and the present, between memories and dreams. Steeped in the traditions of diverse regions, the members of Quimantu together create vibrant and haunting tapestries of sound which are proof that, in an ever-smaller ‘globalised’ world, cultures flow in many directions.” (Hazel Marsh, Dept. Latin American Studies U.E.A.).
“A fantastic album, the joyfully mixed grooves of Latin, Celtic and other rhythms are inspired.” (Martin Morales Journalist, DJ)
The group’s sound has also been featured in the music for a number of films, most recently Dave Arnold’s score for Bond movie Quantum of Solace. Quimantu provided much of the ethnic instrumentation for the 80’s group “Incantation” culminating in the recording of the music for the film “The Mission”. As well as their work with Enio Morricone on “The Mission” the group can be heard on “Ladybird, Ladybird”, “Hostage”, “The Honorary Consul” and “Priest”. Quimantu also played an integral role in the music for the oratorio “The Plague and the Moonflower” by Richard Harvey and Ralph Steadman, broadcast on BBC2 and featuring Ben Kingsley and Ian Holm.
Mauricio Venegas-Astorga, Director-Composer
Lead vocals, Guitar, Venezuelan Cuatro, Acoustic and Electric Charango, Charangon, Ronroco, Kena, Kenacho, Moceño, Sikus, Rondador, Ocarina, Erke, Irish Whistle, Maracas, Bombo, Cajon, Udu Drum, and Sanza
Violin, Five-string Electric Violin, Celtic Harp, Viola, Anklang, and Vocals
Lead Vocals, Bombo, Cajon, Maracas, Cencerro and Kala U-Bass.
Violin, Viola and Vocals
Cello and Vocals
Mandolin, Guitar, Violin, Cuban Tres, and Vocals
Saxophone, Clarinet, Bansuri, Ocarina, Cuatro, Ukelele, Crumhorn, Irish Whistle, Sikura, and Cavaquiño