A symphony from León for the victims of the Ebola outbreak – Diario de León

Ramón Castejón García former manager of the San Juan de Dios Hospital in León, where he worked for 17 years, a nurse, brother of the Order and musician, has created an Ebola Symphonic Poem to the tragedy of the virus that caused the death of hundreds of people in Africa and of which two brothers from the congregation linked to León were victims. This musical composition has been recorded entirely in León and has had the orchestral arrangements of Pablo Geijo Domínguez, director of the Valencia de Don Juan School of Music. The Ángel Barja-Juventudes Musicales choir from the University of León participated in the recording, with the direction of Aitor Olivares García, the violin of Víctor de Prado Jimeno and the saxophone of Roberto Pastor Fernández. The choir was recorded in the Aula Magna of the University of León and the rest in León studios (Ruido studio, with Pablo Vega as sound engineer). “This symphonic poem wants to be a tribute to all the people who died from Ebola, in a very special way, to the Brothers of San Juan de Dios, Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and all the collaborators of the hospitals of San Juan de Dios in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in Africa”, highlights Ramón Castejón, who will present the symphony in León in a space yet to be determined. “Ramón recorded it before the pandemic on the computer and with a synthesizer, he wanted to premiere it with an orchestra and I made him The arrangements. It is not a complicated work and the current result is magnificent. What started as a few notes on a synthesizer ends up in a great orchestra with a lot of percussion, brass and strings. We recorded it a year ago and the idea is to present it in León». Pablo Geijo defines the composition as “simple and very emotional.”Emotive imagesEmotional because the visualization of images, photographs of all the people who fought, fell ill and died in the largest Ebola outbreak that shook the world are conceived to the rhythm of the music eight years ago. Among those victims were two brothers. one from León and another with a very close connection with the health of the province. Miguel Pajares Martín, responsible for the Pastoral Health Service of the San Juan de Dios Hospital in León for seven years; and Manuel García Viejo, a native of Folgoso de la Ribera, who specialized in Internal Medicine at the Hospital de León but who carried out most of his healthcare activity in Africa. The two brothers made world news in 2014 after catching the virus in two hospitals that the Order of Saint John of God has in Africa and being transferred to Spain for their care, where they died. The fear of contagion and the spread of the disease then provoked reactions contrary to this transfer and hospitals throughout Spain prepared rooms and protective equipment in fear of an epidemic of this virus. Nothing then led to suspect what the whole world experienced six years later with another very different virus that still keeps science and medicine on edge. The musical composition with which Ramón Castejón pays tribute to the victims recalls what happened at the Hospital San Joseph of Monrovia (Liberia). Almost all members of the religious and religious communities were infected with the virus. “It all started with the arrival of a patient at the Hospital who could not communicate in English and a brother from the community went to perform the functions of translator, becoming infected in that encounter and later infecting the rest,” recalls Ramón Castejón. Among them was Miguel Pajares. At the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Lunsar (Sierra Leone), Leonese Manuel García Viejo was infected. “He was a specialist in Internal Medicine, but in his long years of activity in Africa, he performed the functions of any specialty, such as traumatology, surgery, gynaecology, obstetrics or tropical medicine,” recalls Castejón, who is aware of the conditions in which they work in Africa because he also worked for a time in Liberia and Ghana, and the delivery of his colleagues. Ebola Before Sars-Cov-2, the world was overwhelmed by another virus that was first detected in 1976 with two simultaneous outbreaks in Nzara (today South Sudan) and Yambuku (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Near these two villages runs the Ebola River, which gives its name to a virus that causes severe and often fatal disease. Concentrated in Africa, the disease initially known as hemorrhagic fever had a major outbreak between 2014 and 2016 in West Africa “the most complex Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. There were more cases and deaths in that outbreak than in all the others together. It also spread between countries, starting in Guinea and then to Sierra Leone and Liberia,” recalls Castejón. That outbreak, which began in March 2014, “was the largest hemorrhagic viral epidemic in history. Nearly 40% of people who contracted this condition during this outbreak have died and the worst affected countries were Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.” The brothers, sisters and collaborators of San Juan de Dios were affected, they fell ill and some died. “Despite everything, after the outbreak was over, they came back to get the hospital up and running.” The Ebola virus is transmitted to people from wild animals such as fruit bats, porcupines and primates and spread by direct human contact with blood, secretions, organs, and other bodily fluids and with surfaces and materials such as bedding. The symptoms are fever, diarrhea, vomiting, bleeding and even death. To remember all those moments, the suffering of the patients and staff of the Order of Saint John of God in various African hospitals, including those most affected by Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ramón Castejón chooses León to record and shape a work that serves to recognize the effort and dedication to care in such complicated moments of the victims of an outbreak that, for the first time, put the world on alert. No one imagined then what would still come years later, but this time from China.