Remembering Diego Obregón (1971-2020)

Born in Colombia’s Pacific coastal town of Guapi, Maestro Diego Obregón (1971-2020) was an amazing multi-instrumentalist, instrument builder, composer, performer and educator. Best known as a virtuosic marimba player and maker, Maestro Obregón specialized in Afro-Colombian genres such as currulao, juga, and bunde, and he also performed on indigenous percussion instruments such as cununo and bombo. Obregon was a dear friend of CTMD, and with his Grupo Chonta, a featured artist in our FolkCOLOMBIA Musica y Danza program. His immense contributions to this unique music and cultural heritage will be sorely missed.

Diego has left an immeasurable mark on the community of Colombian musicians in New York City, where he worked so intensely on sharing his knowledge of Afro-Pacifico Colombian culture. In an interview back in 2010, I asked him how he saw himself within a community where he was the sole musician from the region. He replied: 

“La contribución es dar a conocer los ritmos de la región pacífica colombiana los cuales corren por mis venas / The contribution is to share the rhythms of Colombia’s Pacific region which runs in my veins.” 

As talented a virtuoso marimbista, multi-instrumentalist, instrument maker and composer as he was, he was an even better person. You gave New York City your heart and soul!

Please consider contributing to this Gofundme in honor of Diego to help his family in these difficult times:   https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-el-maestro-diego-obregon?utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR3QJW_vSiRgGHs4bBlwagB092g5lB52qf7Kx1NqNnfgfP9REanUx119jCE

Jorge Arévalo Mateus, PhD

Executive Director of the Association for Cultural Equity

Director of FolkCOLOMBIA: Escuela de Musica y Danza

Jorge Arévalo Mateus