Artist Profiles: Cristina Pato

Cristina Pato

Cristina Pato was one of the youngest bagpipers that came out of the new wave of Spanish bagpipers in the late 1990s. At the age of 18, the young Galician piper recorded her first solo album. Her modern grungy look with dyed green and red hair was quite a contrast to the look of traditional bagpipers with folksy costumes.

Born in Ourense in 1980, Pato picked up a bagpipe for the first time at the age of 4. Her parents had her take bagpipe lessons at a local school. At the age of 6, she was admitted to the conservatory, where she also learned piano.

Despite her young age, Pato was an experienced musician. She toured Europe and North America with a famous bagpipe band from Galicia, the Banda de Gaitas de Ourense. She also recorded several albums with her band Mutenrohi.

Pato has two parallel music careers, one as a bagpiper and another a concert pianist. studied piano at the Barcelona conservatory. “With a piano it is easier to express yourself. It is an instrument with many resources. However, with a bagpipe you can only play a melody. Playing a bagpipe is a matter of performance rather than instrumentation, you have to have something special.”

For the recording of her first solo album, Tolemia (1998), Pato was able to recruit very well known musicians from the Spanish folk music scene, including Carlos Castro (Fia Na Roca’s percussionist), Paco Juncal (Berroguetto’s former violinist) as well as members from her former band Mutenrohi. Pato ventured into world music by fusing Galician Celtic music with African and southern Spanish sounds.

On her second album, Xilento, Pato wanted to explore the connections between Galicia and Portugal, its neighbor to the south. The recording features José Peixoto of the legendary Portuguese band Madredeus, Javier Vargas (Vargas Blues Band), Charlie MacKerron (Capercaillie), Carlos Beceiro and Diego Galaz (La Musgaña).

Cristina Pato has collaborated in international tours with bands such as The Chieftains, Hevia, Royal Pipe Band, Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Galicia Symphony Orchestra and in numerous recordings as a guest artist, including Yo-Yo Ma and Friends’ Songs of Joy and Peace (Sony Masterworks 2008), From Russia to Brazil (2006), Sete with Mutenrohi (2008), Andrés Duende’s “Astral Moon” (2008), Benito Cabrera’s “Puente del Sur” (2005), Fasero’s Mar de Mares (2000), and several recordings with the bagpipe band Real Banda de Gaitas: Cantigas do Mar (2003), “Gran Rapsodia de Aires Populares (2005), Gallaecia, Ano Santo , Adelita and Solistas da Real Banda.

Cristina Pato is a Doctor of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano from the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University (New Jersey). She was awarded with the Edna Mason Scholarship and the Irene Alm Memorial Prize for excellence in scholarly research and performance (May 2008). She holds both a Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance (with honors) and a Master of Music Degree in Music Theory and Chamber Music (with honors) from the Conservatorio de Musica del Liceu (Barcelona). There she studied with Luiz de Moura Castro, Carmen Martínez and Lourdes Pérez Molina.

Cristina Pato

She also holds also a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Digital Arts (Computer Music) from the Universidad Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona). Her final project, a multi-media piece entitled Ansiedad, has been exhibited at the international exhibition BAC03 (Barcelona Arte Contemporáneo) and at the Auditorio de Galicia (Premio Jóvenes Artistas 2003).

During recent seasons Pato has performed several world premieres of pieces such as From Air to Air (by Osvaldo Golijov) with the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma (Carnegie Hall, New York, September 2006); the chamber opera The Outlaw and the King (by Mark Zuckerman) at Rutgers University (New Jersey, December 2006); Norte dedicated to Pato (by Montserrat Torras) at the New England Conservatory (Boston, April 2007); Trio Guernica (by Octavio Vazquez) at the Via Stellae festival (Santiago de Compostela, Spain 2007, national premiere), the Piano Concerto (by Octavio Vazquez) at the Palacio de la Opera with Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia (Coruña, Spain, November 2007); and the symphonic work Rose of the Winds (by Osvaldo Golijov) with Yo-Yo Ma and Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Symphony Hall, Chicago, April 2007). All served to quickly bring her talents as both bagpiper and pianist into the spotlight.

In 2006 Pato produced, composed and performed the soundtrack of the Spanish film El Hombre de Arena, which premiered in November 2007.

The Galician Connection was realized over the course of five years, with recording sessions taking place in New York, Madrid, Galicia and Lisbon. On the self-produced 12-track album—which includes five works composed or arranged by Ms. Pato—the artist collaborates with accordionist Victor Prieto and his trio, Javier Cedron’s string quartet, bouzouki player Carlos Beceiro and band members Laura Amado, David G. Outumuro, Xan Padron and Raquel Pato. The album also displays Pato’s gift as a collaborative pianist, a skill for which she received a Doctorate in Musical Arts from Rutgers University.

In 2016 she participated in Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble’s Sing Me Home (Sony Music Masterworks).


Has Bailar, with Mutenrohi (1997)
Cousas da Lúa, with Mutenrohi 1999
Tolemia (1999)
Xilento (2001)
Misturados (2007)
Off the Map, with Silk Road Ensemble (2009)
Songs of Joy and Peace, with Yo Yo Ma (2009)
SOAS (2010)
The Galician Connection (2010)
Migrations (Sunnyside, 2013)
Rústica, with Davide Salvado, Anxo Pintos, Roberto Comesaña (Fol Musica, 2015)
Latina (Sunnyside, 2015)
Sing Me Home, with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (Sony Music Masterworks, 2016)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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