Orchestra plays Aaron Copland fanfare in powerful protest on the streets of Colombia

10 May 2021, 13:01 | Updated: 10 May 2021, 13:30

Orchestra joins Colombia's anti-government protests
Orchestra joins Colombia's anti-government protests. Picture: Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá/Facebook

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Music once again takes a central role in times of unrest, as a Colombian orchestra takes to the streets amid violent clashes in the capital city.

A day before their performance, people marched in Colombia’s capital city to protest the government’s handling of a growing poverty crisis intensified by COVID-19.

The following day, the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra (Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá) took to the streets with their instruments, to play a poignant concert in the park.

With music, they commemorated those killed in the anti-government demonstrations and sent “a message of solidarity, of peace, and of union”.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the number of Colombians living in extreme poverty has grown by at least 2.8 million.

The protests began as a general strike, in response to the government’s proposed – and now, scrapped – tax increases, on 28 April.

Read more: Violinist warns of ‘cultural desert’ as 400 musicians protest in Parliament Square

Concierto por la NO VIOLENCIA - Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá

La Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá sale a la calle para manifestarse, con música, por la NO Violencia. Alcaldía Mayor de Bogotá Cultura en Bogotá

Posted by Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá on Wednesday, May 5, 2021

But violence soon erupted, and the protests have only continued and grown, with reports of police violence and multiple citizen deaths in what the UN has described as “excessive use of force” by security officers.

Dozens of protestors, and one police officer, have been killed across the country in days of anti-government demonstrations.

“We wholeheartedly call for non-violence, peace and reconciliation,” said one local resident who attended the concert.

People march and play music in protest against the government in Bogota
People march and play music in protest against the government in Bogota. Picture: Getty

Nearly half a million (210,000) people have watched the video, a performance of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, and thanked the Bogotá Philharmonic for expressing what cannot be said with words, in music.

One user wrote [translated from Spanish]: “Let this be a war against the government, but a war expressed with feelings of pain, and song.”

Musicians play in the march during a new day of protests in Medellín, Colombia
Musicians play in the march during a new day of protests in Medellín, Colombia. Picture: Getty

Music has taken a central role in protests across the country, which have now spread to Medellín and Cali, Colombia’s second- and third-largest cities.