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Hespèrion XXI is the latest incarnation of Hespèrion XX, an international early music ensemble founded in Switzerland in 1974 by Catalan musical director Jordi Savall (bowed strings), with Montserrat Figueras (soprano), Lorenzo Alpert (flute, percussion), and Hopkinson Smith (plucked strings). The ensemble is noted for its scholarship in early music, with innovative albums linking the medieval musical traditions of the Moorish, Christian and Jewish diaspora (Orient-Occident 1200-1700), and charting the journey of Francisco Javier, the 16th century missionary, from Spain to Japan and China (Francisco Javier - La Ruta de Oriente).

Through three ensembles - Hespèrion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations - Savall has been one of the principal architects of the current revaluation of historical music. A teacher and researcher with his own music label, Alia Vox, Savall is also a gifted performer, heard in over 140 concerts and six recordings a year. His performances, noted for their improvisations around a basic melodic and rhythmic structure, have brought greater recognition for his instrument, the viola da gamba.

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