Carlos Núñez is the world’s most famous player of the gaita, the bagpipes of Galicia and its richly vibrant, uniquely expressive sounds of Celtic traditional music.
Núñezwas born in 1971 and raised in the Galician port of Vigo, where he first began to play the gaita at only eight years of age. He is an embodiment of the spirit and soul of the ancestral music of Galicia and has become an international icon through his successful endeavours to introduce the world to the native music of his homeland.
Carlos is a performer in a class of his own, continuously pushing boundaries to create fresh, fascinating music that can keep up with the times in this fast paced, modern world. Acutely aware that traditional music can so quickly become complacent and static without innovation, he strives to make music that is current, dynamic and exciting, whilst still retaining all of its original charm and carefully respecting Galicia’s musical legacy.
The Los Angeles Times published; “If it’s possible to become a pop star playing traditional music on bagpipes and recorder, Núñez could be the man,” – and this could even be an understatement for one sees few pop stars nowadays taking to the stage with such panache, passion, fervour and enthusiasm. His concerts are electrifying and exhilarating, and Carlos plays his arsenal of instruments, including the recorder, the ocarina, assorted whistles, Scottish highland pipes, uilleann pipes, bombarde, biniou koz and pastoral pipes, with all the flamboyance and drama of a rock star!
Having single-handedly brought the stirring, gutsy music of Galicia to the international stage to much acclaim and celebration, Carlos Núñez has become Galicia’s foremost traditional music ambassador. He takes that important responsibility very seriously and continues to work for the greater good of the music and its tradition with great modesty rather than pursuing any selfish personal goals.
What does that title mean to Carlos Núñez?
“I had asked myself that question since I was a kid in Vigo,” he admits. “Finally I got an answer when, at twelve 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.”
The celebrated Irish traditional band, The Chieftains, whom Carlos had initially met at Lorient’s Inter-Celtic Festival, fortified this musical brotherhood when in 1994 they invited him to perform at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. It was a memorable US concert debut by him, and since then he has toured and recorded several times with the Chieftains, including on five of their albums.
In 1996, Carlos’ much-anticipated debut album, A Irmandade das Estrelas (Brotherhood of Stars), finally fulfilled his musical mission of inter-Celtic alliance beautifully. He featured more than 50 guest artistes from Galicia, Spain and further a field on this first release and, in Spain it became the first Celtic traditional recording to achieve the coveted platinum status.
Núñez’s subsequent albums have continued to generate considerable sales and much respect and admiration, and his latest masterpiece Discover, released in 2012, has been highly acclaimed and propelled his status as a musician and artist into that of a global ambassador.
Continuing to enjoy a successful and active performing career, Núñez is currently touring worldwide, fortifying his stature as Galicia’s most valued musical export. Building strong, durable bridges between distinct yet kindred Celtic traditions with great care and love he has revolutionised this once almost obsolete music form and keeps the spirit of Galicia alive and kicking!