Grand Combo group with Hostos President David Gomez

The sold-out performance of the iconic salsa band El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico on September 28, did not disappoint. The performance marked a historic milestone for the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture during Hostos’ 50th anniversary celebration.   

To acknowledge El Gran Combo’s cultural impact on the Latino community of the Bronx, President David Gómez presented the legendary founder Don Rafael Ithier with the President’s Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the College.

Don Rafael gratefully accepted the award alongside his daughter, Hostos professor Thelma Ithier-Sterling, who served as emcee and set the tone for the evening’s musical journey, ending with the words, “Papi!”

Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture Director John MacElwee said, “El Gran Combo’s visit was a dream come true,” and was thrilled the beloved salsa band performed at the College for the first time. “We could not envision a 50th anniversary year without a legendary music group.”

Led by Rafael Ithier, who recently celebrated his 92nd birthday, the thirteen-member band of seasoned musicians relished in the energy of the audience playing fan favorites such as “Brujería,” “Teléfono,” “Que me lo den en Vida,” and “Ella lo que quirere es Combo.” Fans had no choice but to move to the tropical rhythms. One can only describe the performance of El Gran Combo as unforgettable.

Enjoy these photos of the incredible evening.