SOCORRO, N.M. February 19, 2014 – Hailed as the world’s most famous player of the gaita, the bagpipes of Galicia, Celtic multi-instrumentalist Carlos Núñez will grace the Macey Center stage in a New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series (PAS) concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28.
Tech Club-Club Macey, open to adults age 21 and over, will offer corned beef and cabbage starting at 5:30 p.m., and will remain open during intermission. Non-members will be assessed a $5 cover charge.
There will also be a free lecture and demonstration with Núñez at 1 p.m. at Macey Center, followed by an intimate question and answer discussion.
Acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Carlos Núñez will bring his band to Socorro for a Performing Arts Series concert.
Carlos Núñez and his bandmates
From northern Spain’s Celtic coast, Núñez connects the musical tradition of his native Galicia with that of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and beyond.
“We’re excited to be bringing one of the world’s premier multi-instrumentalists to Socorro in an early St. Patrick’s Day performance,” Series Director Ronna Kalish said. “Carlos Núñez is unmistakably one of the most talented entertainers in the Celtic genre.”
Núñez began his North American Tour 2014 in Florida in early February, and the PAS performance is one of only three in New Mexico. He is joined on the tour by Stephanie Cadman (fiddle, step-dancing, vocals), Pancho Alvarez (medieval guitar) and Xurxo Nuñez (percussion).
The Spaniard’s instrumental arsenal includes the ocarina, assorted whistles, Scottish highland pipes, uilleann (Irish) pipes, bombarde (a kind of Breton oboe), biniou koz (Breton bagpipes), and pastoral pipes (18th-century precursor of the uilleann pipes).
This impressive repertoire ensures that audiences are treated to a variety of textures, both cultural and musical, in every Núñez performance.
Galicia is a community in northwest Spain, with the official status of a nationality. It is bordered by Portugal to the south, the Spanish communities of Castile, León and Asturias to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and north. Several decades ago Paddy Moloney, leader of the celebrated Irish traditional band the Chieftains, called Galicia “the unknown Celtic country,” implying that traditional music as exciting as Galicia’s was overdue for a global breakout in awareness and acclaim.
Like the Chieftains, who became Ireland’s foremost ambassadors of Irish traditional music by spreading its appeal internationally, Núñez has become Galicia’s foremost traditional music ambassador by doing the same, a responsibility he takes very seriously and with great humility.
Núñez met the Chieftains at Lorient’s Inter-Celtic Festival, and in 1994, the band invited him to perform with them at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Since then, Núñez has toured and recorded with the Chieftains several times, including on their albums Voice of Ages (2012), San Patricio (2010), The Long Black Veil (1995), and Santiago. Núñez worked closely with Moloney in developing this Galician-sparked, Spanish-focused project from 1996.
The latter two CD’s earned Grammy awards; and Núñez, as a solo artist, received Latin Grammy nominations for Os Amores Libres in 2000 and Mayo Longo in 2001. In all, Galicia’s greatest piper shines on 16 CD tracks, available now on Sony Music.
Born in 1971 and raised in the Galician port of Vigo, where he initially picked up the gaita at age eight, Núñez embodies and reflects the elements of his native music. He also understands how traditional music can, over time, lose its innovative spirit. Under these conditions, even the heartiest music can eventually slip into predictability.
What separates Núñez from the pack is that he preserves Galicia’s musical legacy while also skillfully exploring fresh and fascinating realms of possibility, as reflected in his new CD, Inter-Celtic.
What does that title mean to Núñez?
“I had asked myself that question since I was a kid in Vigo,” he said. “Finally, I got an answer when, at 12 years of age, I was invited to play with the Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient Orchestra in Brittany, France’s northwest region known for its own tradition of Celtic music. There, performers from seven Celtic countries put their traditional music together to form ‘one nation’ beyond languages and frontiers. Since then, that feeling of brotherhood has been a true mission for me.”
His signature instrument, the gaita, dates to at least the 11th century, and the musician’s mastery of this bagpipe is said to have been integral to its rising popularity both in and outside Spain. Núñez can play the chanter to bend, extend, or cut notes; sustain and change tempos; explore harmonic nuances and tonal colors; and complement and counterpoint other musicians’ playing.
“These hallmarks are not limited to the way Carlos plays the gaita,” Kalish said. “He is nothing short of amazing, and it is a true privilege for the Performing Arts Series to showcase his incredible talents.”
Sponsors for the performance are the First State Bank of Socorro, WESTAF, Best Western, El Defensor Chieftain, KUNM and Dr. Robert and Kathy Markwell.
Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $8 for youth, and are available at the Cashier’s Office (second floor of Fidel Center), Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme Drive-up or at the door.
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By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech