Castaneda teams with Japanese pianist Hiromi for new live album and North American tour
Performing at the 2017 Barcelona Voll-Damm Jazz Festival on Oct. 18, Japanese pianist Hiromi and Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda had the audience leaning forward in their seats with the kind of expectation displayed in the stands at a fútbol game. “Edmar is the Messi of the harp,” Hiromi cracked fittingly during the two-hour set, an exhilarating show during which the two musicians, in the words of Castaneda, alternately grooved and prayed through their instruments. Hiromi and Castaneda have together just released an album, Live at Montreal, and will perform several dates in the United States in November.
Castaneda, like the charismatic and muscular performer Hiromi, is a full contact player. He acrobatically bends his body as he embraces his harp, while his hands athletically move from a caressing strum of the strings to pyrotechnic plucking.
His harp, a state-of-the-art model that bears the initials of his name, is an updated version of the traditional wooden arpa llanera (plains harp) found in Colombia and Venezuela. Evolving from the European harps that came to South America with Jesuit priests in times of the Spanish conquest, the llanera harp is the lead sound of the traditional joropo, the Colombian and Venezuelan country song and dance. Castaneda, who is from Bogota and has lived in New York for 13 years, remembers first dancing the joropo and falling under the spell of the harp when he was seven years old.