The Spanish piper of joy and energy

By |
Entertainment,Music,Emily Cary

Carlos Nunez opens the Barns at Wolf Trap season with a concert that promises to be extraordinary.

The native of Vigo, Spain is a master of traditional Spanish music. His instrument is not the guitar but the gaita, a traditional Galician bagpipe that is related historically to the Irish pipes. Not surprising, he has collaborated and recorded frequently with the Chieftains, the premier Irish band.

"My instrument works well with them because it brings a spark of flamboyancy to the music," Nunez said, speaking from Milan. "Paddy [Moloney] says the happy sound of my pipes makes him smile and all problems go away. The Scottish bagpipe was developed 200 years ago by the British army for war, so it has fire. The Irish pipes are very secret, almost afraid, while the Galician bagpipe comes from the middle of the Earth. It has great energy and a mysterious, magic power. The Scottish bag is made of goat skin, while mine is made of kangaroo skin from Australia, the very finest."

Nunez began playing the gaita at a very early age. Like every schoolboy in his part of the country, he started with the flute and later studied the recorder at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid. He remembers that his teachers cautioned him to avoid moving his foot, but when he came to America, he cast that rule aside. Along the way, his friend Ricky Skaggs noticed that they both have the same feeling for music.

Onstage
Carlos Nunez
Where: The Barns at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Info: $22; 877-954-3872; wolftrap.org

His innate connection with all kinds of music is emphasized in his blockbuster two-disc recording, "Discover." In addition to the Chieftains, the diverse artists appearing on it with him include Linda Ronstadt, Los Lobos, Jackson Browne, Sinead O'Connor and the Buena Vista Social Club.

Since his U.S. debut in 1994 in a Carnegie Hall performance with the Chieftains, he has toured in this country, Europe and Latin America extensively.

Nunez recently expanded his attention to Berber music from North Africa. Unlike the music of Egypt, which is Oriental in style, the music from Morocco is connected with that of Ireland and Galacia. He confesses that he did not play Spanish flamenco music for many years because he associated it with bullfights, Franco and the history of that period. Now he embraces it.

"Wherever I perform, I love to play with local musicians to learn and share with them," he said. "I look forward to playing at the Barns of Wolf Trap and will bring along my band of four, which includes a young Irish girl from Boston. What I love most about music is inviting local pipers to join us, filling the room with energy, speaking with the audience after the concert, opening a bottle of wine to share with them and making lots of friends."

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Emily Cary

Special to The Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner