By David Salazar
Colombian conductor Raúl García, the founder of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá and its leader for 23 years, has passed away at age 83.
Born on March 22, 1939, he was also a mathematical physicist and became the first clarinetist in Colombia to perform the instrument in the Orquesta Sinfónica.
He then became the founder of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá and led the organization between 1967-1990. The ensemble started off as the Fundación Filarmónica Colombiana with a series of concerts at the Teatro Colombia (now Teatro Jorge Eliécer Gaitán) in 1966. A year later, the ensemble became incorporated and took on the name that it has carried ever since.
As the leader of the Orquesta Filarmónica, García was a champion of bringing music to the people and set up concerts and programs in schools, churches, parks, and other neighborhoods. Furthermore, in order to better connect with the Colombian people, García and the orchestra recorded popular Colombian music by such composers as José Barros and Lucho Bermúdez, among others.
He also led the creation of the public TV program “Música para todos” which was popular throughout the 1970s-90s.
“His legacy and dedication to culture is the great inheritance that he has left this country,” said García’s son David García, the current director of the Orquesta, in a social media post. “In the name of my family, we say goodbye to him with gratitude and love.”