Edmar Castaneda was born in 1978, in the city of Bogota, Colombia. Since his move to the United States in 1994, Edmar has quite literally taken New York and the world stage by storm with the sheer force of his virtuosic command of the harp—revolutionizing the way audiences and critics alike consider an instrument commonly relegated to the “unusual category”. A master at realizing beautiful complexities of time, while skillfully drawing out lush colors and dynamic spirit, Edmar has been characterized as “almost a world unto himself” (The New York Times). The legendary Paquito D’Rivera, Edmar’s frequent collaborator, has remarked:
Edmar is... an enormous talent, he has the versatility and the enchanting charisma of a musician who has taken his harp out of the shadow to become one of the most original musicians from the Big Apple.
Not unlike his fellow rarified musicians that have transformed their lives and immediate circumstances through art, Edmar’s journey traces back to humble and altogether inspiring beginnings. The son of a musician and a mother who nurtured young Edmar’s obvious natural talents, he embraced the noble folkloric traditions of his native land. The “joropo” dance classes which he and his sister regularly attended became for him a master class in movement, accompanied by the harp. Even now, on stages across the globe, one notes how Edmar’s body seemingly engulfs his Colombian harp as he crafts almost unbelievable feats of cross-rhythms, layered with chordal nuances rivaling the most celebrated flamenco guitarist’s efforts. In the beginning I learned to play traditional folk music… I play “el arpa llanera” a Colombian folk harp. “El arpa llanera” ...means harp from the plains.