Blend of cultures at The Broad
As the light slowly turned down and a warm, dim hue was focused on the stage, the noises from the excited audience in the crowded concert hall dimmed to an almost complete silence.
Shortly after, Carlos Núñez appeared on stage and played the first chord on his traditional bagpipe called a gaita.
He was then joined by his fellow band members who soon enough had the audience clapping along to the instrumental rhythm of the opening song “Reels” which increased in tempo.
Núñez, a multi-instrumentalist, and his band appeared at The Broad Stage on Friday night where they would fill the concert hall with a phenomenal intercultural mix of traditional music that took the audience around the world.
Núñez, who grew up in the Galician port of Vigo in Spain, is well known for being one of the world’s most famous players of the bagpipe known as the Galicia gaita. He is also known for his unique instrumental style which mixes traditional Celtic music with influences from Scottish, Brazilian, and Irish melodies.
During the first part of the concert, Núñez, supported by band members Stephanie Cadman on fiddle and step-dancing, Pancho Alvarez on guitar, and Xurxo Núñez on drums, played a variety of slow and high tempo songs such as “Camino de Santiago” and “Amanecer.”
But what gave the show a special touch were the short historical introductions by Núñez which took the audience to various regions of the world.
As Nunez explained the histories behind the songs it was impossible not to dream away to the romantic countryside of Spain or to a local bar in Ireland alive in the evening.
Núñez's unique style and the Celtic sounds had the audience enthralled but the evening's real high point took place when a guest band, Cambalache, a Chicano-Jarocho group from East Los Angeles, joined the show. They began playing an exhilarating number in a classic style from Veracruz, Mexico known as Son Jarocho.
The mixture that Cambalaches’ South American rhythms played on wooden guitars and the Núñez band's Celtic touch evoked an almost spiritual happiness of intercultural collaboration.
“It was a real surprise, and a pleasure to watch,” said audience member Gabi Chazanas.
She explained that the collaboration with Cambalache turned out to be her favorite piece of the night.
Chazanas was not the only visitor who was impressed by both the show and how different traditional melodies can mingle.
Toni Caldos, who had never been to a Núñez show before, arrived at the concert expecting mostly traditional Celtic music
“The variability completely blew my mind,” said Caldos. “It was absolutely phenomenal.”
By the end of the concert the audience was no longer in its seats.
Cadman put her fiddle to the side and walked down into the crowd, proceeding to form a human chain with audience members while the rest of the Núñez band played a song called “An Dro.” Soon a dancing snake of people moving hand in hand made its away around the Broad stage.
Every chord, every step taken, and every song that was performed was invigorating.
After the last performance, Núñez and his band left the stage to a standing ovation and rousing applause.
But the audience were not the only ones who felt overwhelmed by the experience. Band members also felt the magic.
“It was absolutely amazing," said Cadman after the curtain closed. "The response was so filled with life.”