Harpist Diego Laverde Rojas - London Underground busker
Portrait by Stella Tooth
Coloured pencil on paper
Colombian harp virtuoso Diego Laverde Rojas plays folk songs on the arpa llanera (a harp from the lowland region between Colombia and Venezuela). Diego came to the UK in 2000 for a 10 day tour with the Ballet Folkloric Colombiano and stayed on.
The harp was introduced to Latin America by Spanish Jesuits but each country has adapted the design, which means the music - particularly the rhythms - have developed differently.
Western and Latin American techniques differ in that Latin American harpists play with their nails on nylon strings, which allows them to play quicker than their western counterparts who play with their fingertips on gut strings. Many women play harp in the west, whereas there are many male harpists in Latin America.