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In Antiquity, Hesperia was the name given to the two most westerly peninsulas in Europe: the Italian and the Iberian peninsulas. In Classical Greek, the term “Hesperio” was used to refer to a person originating from either of the two peninsulas, and it was also the name given to the planet Venus when it appeared in the western sky at night.
United by a common goal – the study and interpretation of ancient music according to new, modern criteria – and fascinated by the immense richness of the Hispanic and European musical repertoire before 1800, Jordi Savall, Montserrat Figueras, Lorenzo Alpert, and Hopkinson Smith founded the ensemble Hespèrion XX in 1974. In its 30 years of existence, the group has, in collaboration with other outstanding performers, rescued numerous works and programs from oblivion, thus contributing to a major reappraisal of the fundamental aspects of the Mediaeval, Renaissance, and Baroque repertoires. From the moment it was created, Hespèrion XX has carried out an intense schedule of concert performances and regularly appears at the main international music festivals.
At the beginning of the new millennium, Hespèrion XX continues to be a front-line tool for musical research, reflecting the advent of the new century in 2000 by changing its name to HESPÈRION XXI. The ensemble has been characterized by its eclectic approach to the process of artistic decision-making: as 21st-century musicians, its members’ objectives are grounded in the search for a dynamic synthesis of musical expression, stylistic and historical research, and creative imagination. The fascinating task of reconstructing the rich exuberance of music from other ages – specifically music composed from the 10th to the 18th century – has breathed new life into current musical thinking. Thanks to the energy and passionate vocation of its members, Hespèrion XXI has conquered the new Europe of nations and extracted the precious ore of its musical traditions. It has toured and harvested the music of Europe, the Middle and the Far East, and the New World. The group’s recordings and live performances have enabled us to rediscover Sepharad through its interpretation of Judeo-Christian songs, Golden Age Spain, the madrigals of Monteverdi, and the Creole villancicos of Latin America. CDs, which include Cansós de Trobairitz, El Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, Diáspora Sefardí, Música napolitana, Música en el tiempo de Cervantes, El Barroco Español, and Ostinato; as well as the monographic albums devoted to G. Gabrieli, G. Frescobaldi, S. Scheidt, W. Lawes, J. Cabanilles, F. Couperin, and J. S. Bach; and the recent recordings of the music of A. Ferrabosco and music in the age of Queen Isabella I of Castile, are the most eloquent testimony to the wealth of possibilities offered by Hespèrion XXI.