Carols Nunez - photo: Fontaneda

Celtic Connections, Glasgow

Celtic Connections, Glasgow

The story of Celtic music’s migration from Wales, Scotland and Galicia to America and Patagonia to be performed at Celtic Connections in Glasgow.

Welsh musicians will join the world famous master Galician piper Carlos Núñez to perform a brand new commission at Celtic Connections 2015 (21 January, Royal Concert Hall) alongside musicians from Scotland and South America.

A Brazilian accordionist from the Chico Cesar band will join the line up, as will Argentina’s foremost accordionist Chango Spasiuk, with leading Scottish accordionist Donald Shaw, the Artistic Director of the Celtic Connections festival joining as special a guest.

Welsh fiddler Angharad Jenkins, a member of the Welsh folk band Calan, met Nunez in October in Santiago when they were visiting for WOMEX. She will be joined by Calan’s pibgorn and fiddle player Patrick Rimes and harpist and singer Gwenan Gibbard as well as one of Scotland’s most exciting young folk bands – Rura.

Other featured artists include the iconic Scottish singer Karen Matheson from Capercailie, young Gaelic singer and clarsach player Mischa MacPherson with guitarist Innes White, Decker Forrest from the Isle of Skye and legendary Scottish piper Angus MacDonald.

Speaking about the ideas behind the commission, Nunez said "The Atlantic corridor that connected the western coast of Europe wasn’t just the fringe of the Old World but the bridge towards the New.

"That’s why we find Celtic Music in the Americas, all the way from Cape Breton to Patagonia."

"Latin American music is still full of jigs and tunes that feature drones and pipe scales, mixed with their own rhythms and styles.

"In Argentina people are already well aware of this connection but elsewhere they’re surprised how natural it sounds when they listen to their own music played on the pipes!"

"I'm so happy to finally be able to collaborate with Welsh artists in a show! Through the years I've met several Welsh pipers and I always was very curious when they told me they played Galician gaitas because they felt the Welsh pipes once were probably similar. This actually connects with the start of this project for Celtic Connections, a quote by one of the foremost Scottish highland pipes experts who talks about "the interesting possibility that the bagpipe arrived in Scotland by way of an Atlantic corridor, and that its closest relation is the Spanish Gaita which itself seems to represent the archetype bagpipe of the European Middle Ages".

I'm thrilled that we will have a Welsh Pibgorn piper, Patrick Rimes, joining us in this "Atlantic Corridor" show, together with other young Welsh, Scottish and South American musicians. Patrick has sent me some beautiful Welsh tunes from Anglesey, where it seems there's a church named after a bishop, Maelog, who according to legends is connected to the Galician bishop Maeloc who founded a place called Britonia that still exists in Galicia.

Patrick has also sent me some Welsh tunes that are played in Ireland and Scotland too. Actually when I was in the Isle of Skye researching for this show, I was told that the ancient music of the Highland pipes, pibroch, actually originated in the harp, or clarsach as they call it and that it was related to the oldest harp music preserved in Europe, the Welsh Robert ap Huw manuscript. It seems there even was an encounter in Ireland in the Middle Ages of harpists from Wales and Ireland to set the basis of this music. So the Welsh harpist Gwenan Gibbard will be playing some of that pure "Atlantic Corridor" music. She'll also be singing a song that the Welsh brought to Patagonia. I've often played in Argentina for the last 20 years, as there are tons of Galicians there, but never in Patagonia, so I hope now I'll be able to finally go with my new Welsh friends and introduce them to the Galicians in Buenos Aires and other places!

And then in the show we'll also have Angharad Jenkins, whom I met in Galicia, in Santiago de Compostela. She came to a presentation I was doing during Womex and she ended up jamming with us with a fiddle borrowed from Rura, a Scottish band who's in the show too who also were around that day. Angarad's mum, harpist Delyth Jenkins, played and recorded some Galician tunes with the bands Cromlech and Aberjaber and even played in Galicia in the late 1970s, bringing new influences from Galicia to Welsh music. She's also been working lately with artist Iwan Bala who was in Galicia too and has painted beautiful work based on the Cambrian period in which Wales and Galicia were "cheek to cheek", so to speak, and on their similar names : Gales / Galicia !

The aim is for us to tour together in South America taking this exciting music to new audiences – and hopefully bring it back to Wales one day too."

The Atlantic Corridor concert is a new commission by Celtic Connections, developed in partnership with Sabhal Mor Ostaig and Wales Arts International.

It is part of a wider British Council programme called "Celtic Corridor" which connects musicians and the music industry in Scotland, Wales and South America to develop new pathways for collaboration and exchange.

Celtic Connections 2015 - Europe’s largest roots music celebration - will provide the launch pad for Celtic Corridor and some of the performers and collaborations that have already resulted, such as Brazilian singer-songwriter Criolo, a key figure in Sao Paulo’s hip-hop underground, who is playing alongside the Scottish folk band, Withered Hand.

Speaking about the Celtic Corridor project – and the Nunez commission - Dana MacLeod, Head of Arts at the British Council Scotland said "Although Celtic music is very popular in Argentina, there are almost no performances there by Scottish musicians, however, this could all begin change this year, thanks to Carlos Núñez who has spent years working in and touring all over Latin and South America and who has a huge profile there. He feels strongly that Latin American music has been influenced by the migration of the Celts – with Galicia acting as the ‘bridge’

Eluned Haf, Head of Wales Arts International added:

Although there is an awareness of Welsh culture in Argentina because of the Welsh community in Patagonia which is this year celebrating its 150 anniversary, the music of Wales is still unknown to most of south America. The mass Galician migration up until the 1960s to South America is partly why Celtic music is so popular in Argentina. By working with our Galician and Scottish partners during this important anniversary year will give us an unique opportunity to share our music and joint heritage in Patagonia with a wider audience in Latin America."

Núñez is offering support slots in his 2015 tour in South America, to Welsh and Scottish artists, to help promote Celtic musicians from the UK.

He said "Twenty years ago I first toured the US with The Chieftains. More recently, the Scots community warmly welcomed me in Canada. I’m very happy now to help young Celtic musicians to tour in South America where Galicians emigrated in the same way as the Scots went North and West."

Music professionals from Latin America and Wales will attend Showcase Scotland – an industry week of performances highlighting some of Scotland's best emerging talent, to maximise the potential of international bookings for Scottish artists.

Other Welsh artists performing at Celtic Connections are:



1. For more information about Wales’ presence and delegation at Celtic Connections, please contact Wales Arts International, the international agency of the Arts Council of Wales. For more information please call Eluned Haf on 07814 645811 or email or contact Elen Roberts on 07964 688809 or

2. Atlantic Corridor was commissioned in association with Sabal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelid College on Skye by British Council. For more information about this aspect please contact Giselle Dye or Sarah McDaid at Pagoda PR on 0131 556 0770 or email or

3. Celtic Connections runs from Thursday 15th January to Sunday 1st February 2015.The eclectic programme for next year’s festival includes some of the best-known musicians in traditional and roots music, world, indie, jazz, folk, soul and Americana. Over 2000 musicians from every corner of the globe will come to Glasgow. For more information contact Hannah Matheson, Media Officer, Glasgow Life mobile: 07825 864 631 T: 0141 287 3565 or email

4. Journalists wishing to interview Carlos Nunez please contact Fernando Conde, email: or Tel: +34 986 11 33 67. More information on the project can be found on Carlos’s Facebook page here

5. British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities; works in more than 100 countries; employ 7,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers; work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes. We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publically-funded grant provides less than 25% of our turnover which last year was £781 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally. follow us on Twitter @BCScotland

Full list of musicians playing in Atlantic Corridor are: Galicia: Carlos Núñez - Galician Pipes, Whistles; Xurxo Núñez – Percussion; Pancho Álvarez - Atlantic Guitar; Ireland:Tara Breen – Fiddle; Argentina: Chango Spasiuk – Accordion; Marcos Villalba - Percussion Brazil : Scotland: Mischa MacPherson - Vocals, Clarsach; Innes White – Guitar; Angus MacDonald - Highland Pipes; Decker Forrest - Highland Pipes; Karen Matheson – Vocals; Donald Shaw – Accordion; Wales: Gwenan Gibbard -Vocals, Welsh Harp; Patrick Rimes - Pipes; Angharad Jenkins -Fiddle

19 January 2015

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