Dutch harp students meet Edmar Castaneda 

by Rosanne van Bodegom / iJHF affiliate, July 2009 


People that came to see their friends or family playing at Sabine Meijers’ student performance (July 08 2009) in Capelle a/d IJssel, The Netherlands, had the fantastic opportunity to see latin jazz harpist Edmar Castaneda rocking his South-American harp. Edmar is well-known in the jazz world and was in the newsletter spotlight previous summer! 


First Edmar dazzled the audience by playing some of his songs. The speed of his hands and the happy, content face he has when playing make his performances extra breathtaking. He has his own style of music which is a mix of Colombian folk, latin jazz and rhythms that make your feet move! The music filled the complete hall even though he played without his quartet, who joined him later that week at the North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam. 


After hearing a couple of his compositions there was the opportunity to ask questions. Edmar explained how his compositions are built. While he did so he played the parts. Most of his songs have an A-B-A’-B’-… form. A and B are certain motives he plays and where he improvises on in the A’ and B’ parts. Then in between there can be interludes or so called bridges in which the whole style of a song can change temporarily. He also spoke of the number one improvisation rule: “There are no mistakes!” 


Besides with his band, Edmar also performs with his wife Andrea Tierra, who is a jazz singer. She supports him as a vocal on his new album while he has worked with her on her own albums. Edmars regular trio consists of trombonist Marshall Gilkes and drummer Dave Silliman. 


Another question was how his Colombian harp would sound if there where technical problems. As an answer Edmar unplugged the instrument from the amplifier and played on. The sound still carried though the whole room and again the people could enjoy the swing of Edmar’s music. 


At the end there was the possibility to make some photos and even, as yours truly had the honour, to play on his harp. The Colombian harp has a very different feel compared to pedal or Celtic harps. The strings have not been strung to tightly so the harpist can move his hands faster, as Edmar often does. Another difference is that the strings are much closer together. 


At the end of the session everybody was very enthusiastic and lots of people ordered Edmar’s new album” Entre Cuerdas”. Edmar showed that no audience is too small for him and he enjoys playing for everyone, child adult or elderly. His music is his speech! 


read more about Edmar in the bio and articles sections of this site and on 


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