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Baptiste Bonnefoy

was born Juan Ramón Gil Ibáñez in 1780 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Bermundo Gil, bassist for that city’s Coliseum Theater orchestra, and María Ibáñez. Ramón Gil’s baptismal record describes him as a pardo, a designation commonly applied in the eighteenth-century Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata to free persons of color. By 1804 Gil was hired as a cellist in the Coliseum Theater orchestra, becoming a close friend of its director, the Spanish composer Blas Parera (1776–1840), under whom his father also worked.

In 1793 the cathedral in Santiago, Chile, hired José Campderrós (1742–1812), a Catalonian composer then active in Lima, Peru, to reorganize its chapel music. As part of this project, Campderrós traveled to Buenos Aires in the early 1800s in search of talented musicians. He found and hired Gil as well as the pardo violinist Teodoro Guzmán At the time Santiago ...