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"Music is the crossroads where all languages meet

Joint Artistic Directors

Mauricio Venegas-Astorga

Mauricio Venegas-Astorga

has written more than 30 albums and participated in countless film and television projects including David Putnam’s ‘The Mission’, Dave Arnold’s soundtracks for the Chronicles of Narnia and for the Bond film “Quantum Of Solace”. Mauricio’s music is featured on the 2015 release “The 33”, which relates the story of the rescue of the Chilean miners. Widely known for the specialist knowledge he has developed in Latin American and World Music he 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. Amongst his commissions was a composition for the Lincolnshire music education agency Soundlincs along with Midge Ure and Oasis, performed by 200 young musicians.

In recognition of his artistic contribution to culture and education in Chile and England he was invited by the United Nations to be included in a project celebrating prominent artists from around the world in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UN charter for refugees. Whilst living in London, Mauricio has kept his artistic profile in Chile and was recently awarded the “Premio Municipal De Arte’ in Coronel, his home town, for outstanding artistic contribution to the music and culture of his country.

He has also been twice awarded by the Chilean Ministry of Culture the “Fondo De La Música Award” Fondart. These awards were for the composition and recording of his Cantata “Socavón”, a work that combined classical and traditional music, instruments, and musicians; and for the project “Trotasurdo” that involves the use of technology and folk music styles in a pioneering recording mixture of classical, electronic, and traditional instruments with urban and rural sounds. The project also included the training of teachers and children in the use of modern and different computer software to create and record music.

Rachel Pantin

Rachel Pantin

is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and completed the Post-graduate Performance and Communication Skills course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Having studied violin with leading violinists and teachers including Howard Davis, Erich Gruenberg and David Takeno, she has developed an extensive range of experience as a performer from classical groups such as London Sinfonietta and Opera Factory to world music including the Palestinian group Sabreen and the South American group Quimantu.

For a number of years she toured Britain, Europe and North America performing specially commissioned solo works for violin for several theatre and dance companies. Concentrating in recent years on developing crossovers between the Classical and World Music genres she has worked on a number of recording projects with Quimantu, gaining much recognition for her contribution to the fine sound of the group.

As a composer she has worked on scores for theatre and dance companies, original music, orchestrations and arrangements for world music groups and original works for schools and educational publications.

Meet some of the team…

Laura Venegas

Laura Venegas

Music Leader

Laura Venegas was born in the UK, is of Chilean heritage, but feels a deep connection to both countries. Her first instrument is her voice, but following the lead of her father Mauricio, is fast becoming a multi-instrumentalist playing Kala Bass and Latin-American percussion – especially instruments such as the cajón and bombo. The fast and intricate dance rhythms of musical styles such as Festejo (Afro-Peruvian) and Chacarera (Argentina) are a particular interest. Strong rhythm work is one of the most important and fundamental aspects of music making, and she shares her expertise in this, amongst other things, with participants of Musiko Musika's projects. As one of the lead singers for the Anglo-Chilean group Quimantu she has developed a wide vocal repertoire from the works of Violeta Parra to Johnny Cash.

As well as working with Musiko Musika, Laura is also involved in many musical theatre and dance projects, having recently performed for such events as London's 2012 Olympic opening ceremony and the UEFA Champions' League Final opening ceremony.

Yemisi Obasaju

Yemisi Obasaju

Music Leader

Born in the UK, Yemisi grew up in Nigeria and moved back to the UK in 2000. Her main musical passions are singing and dancing. She loves working with children and learning to play new instruments, and also works with the Hill Song Church gospel choir, which has performed in venues such as the Wembley Arena and the O2. She started as a parent of one of our students - but when we discovered her wonderful singing, she soon became more and more closely involved with us! As a Musiko Musika tutor, Yemisi contributes songs, stories from Nigeria, and shares her expertise in singing with our students.

Yuri Betancourt

Yuri Betancourt

Music Leader

Chilean musician Yuri Betancourt Garcia has been working with Musiko Musika since 2010. When he is not leading groups with Musiko Musika, he is playing music professionally around London. His specialties are the varied styles of Andean music, but he also enjoys playing the rich and varied musical styles of Latin, Bossa Nova and fusion. He plays guitars, bass, charango, quenas and percussion and is currently a member of Quimantu.

Musa M'boob

Musa M'Boob

Music Leader

Musa M'Boob, born in Serrakunda, The Gambia, was chosen by his father Doudou M'Boob, 6th generation master percussionist, to replace him, playing his public debut at the age of 12 years. M'Boob M'Balahal (meaning M'Boob drumming or drummers) group was formed in 1981. They are a six-piece band, made up of one female vocalist and five percussionists. The group's incredible talents are complemented by Musa's style of Taasu, an indigenous African Rap. This combination of rhythmic drumming and Afro Rap has made the M'Boob M'Balahal a household name in The Gambia. Musa is further developing these rhythms and performing them in order to introduce and mix them with different styles, such as Afro Mandinka, techno world dance and other forms of world music in order to gain the attention of musicians and casual listeners alike. His aim to promote the understanding of his art, and further stretch the possibilities of African percussion within various types of music.

Mark Troop

Mark Troop

Music Leader

Pianist, broadcaster and writer Mark Troop has developed a unique career spanning the fields of contemporary and world music, especially from Latin America and China. He has set up several British Council tours, to India (three times), Spain (twice) and Latin America, including concerts and educational work. With his wife, acclaimed soprano Patricia Rozario, he has recently set up Giving Voice to India, a unique teaching project to train Indian singers in western styles and promote western music generally on the subcontinent. He is now training Indian pianists of college level and above. For BBC Radio 3 Mark Troop & CMC created a special three-part Latin American series relating the history and literature of Latin America to its music The Twilight of the Iguana, and has been a regular part of Musiko Musika’s World Music Academy team since it was the project began.

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