Cristina Pato (Ourense, 1980)
Galician bagpiper, pianist, educator, writer & producer.
Silkroad: Artist and Advisor.
New York University: King Juan Carlos Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization
Harvard University: Silkroad Arts and Passion-Driven Learning Institute Director – (Educational co-chair)
Internationally acclaimed Galician bagpiper master, classical pianist and passionate educator, Cristina Pato enjoys an active professional career devoted to cultural exchange and to creating new paths for her unique instrument. Her dual careers have led to performances on major stages throughout the world, including regular tours in the U.S. and Europe and sporadic tours in India, Jerusalem , Angola, China, Korea, Mexico, Turkey, and her native Spain. Ms. Pato serves as Learning Advisor for Silkroad (founded by Yo-Yo Ma) and is an active touring artist and composer.
In 1999, Cristina Pato became the first female gaita player to release a solo album, and since then she has collaborated with world music, jazz, classical and experimental artists (including Chicago Symphony, Yo-Yo Ma, Arturo O’Farril, New York Philharmonic, Paquito D’Rivera and dancers Damian Woetzel and Lil’ Buck). Ms. Pato’s unique and powerful style, full of passion and energy, has been acclaimed by The New York Times as “a virtuosic burst of energy“; The Wall Street Journal has called her “one of the living masters of the gaita.” Ms. Pato fuses the influences of Latin music, jazz, pop and contemporary music, and uses her artistry and unprecedented virtuosic skill to bring her musical vision to life.
An active recording artist and performer since age 12, Ms. Pato has released and produced six solo gaita recordings and two as a pianist. She has also collaborated on more than 40 recordings as a guest artist, including the Grammy Award winner Yo-Yo Ma and Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace (SONY BMG 2008) and the jazz album Miles Español: New Sketches of Spain (Entertainment One Music, 2011). She is also featured in the documentary “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble” directed by academy award winner director Morgan Neville. Cristina is the leader of the Cristina Pato QUARTET (USA), the Cristina Pato GALICIAN TRIO (Europe) and an active producer and artistic director of multidiscipinary events (including her own festival Galician Connection).
Ms. Pato has given more than 600 concerts with her own band, many of them recorded and broadcast by television stations such as RAI, BBC, TVG, CNN and RTVE; her work has been praised by newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, El Pais, Downbeat Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.
Such an active touring and recording career has not thwarted her scholarship. Ms. Pato holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University (NJ), where she was awarded the Edna Mason Scholarship and the Irene Alm Memorial Prize for excellence in scholarly research and performance. Ms. Pato holds degrees in Piano Performance, Music Theory and Chamber Music from the Conservatorio de Musica del Liceu (Barcelona). She also holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Digital Arts (Computer Music) from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona).
These academic and artistic pursuits have contributed to her educational endeavors. Ms. Pato serves as learning advisor for Silkroad, collaborating closely in planning residencies and learning activities, including the multi-year partnership with Harvard University. She has served as a panelist, mentor and faculty member in various projects Silkroad is developing with the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, including The Arts and Passion-Driven Learning summer institute for artists and educators. Her belief that the power of the arts in education benefits the ecosystem of society has led her to create her own multidisciplinary festival: Galician Connection.
In 2012 Cristina wrote “My Lethe Story: The River of Forgetfulness”, a storytelling-chamber music piece commissioned by Silkroad and premiered at Harvard University. The piece combines Cristina’s passion for neuroscience and the personal story of her mother’s memory loss. With that piece she has developed a new path of understanding the power of combining arts and sciences in academic institutions. In 2014 she was named Mellon Visiting Artist in Residence for the 2014-2015 season at the College of Holy Cross. In 2016 she began an on-going collaboration with University of California, Santa Barbara with her pilot class: “Memory: An Interdisciplinary Exploration” co-created and co-taught by Cristina Pato, Prof. Ken Kosik (Neuroscience), Prof. Kim Yasuda (Spatial Art) and Prof. Mary Hancock (Anthropology). In 2017 she served as Blodgett Distinguished Artist in Residence at Harvard University (Department of Music). In 2019, Cristina was appointed as the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization for the 2019-2020 academic year at New york University.
Cristina Pato also designs short-term residencies and lectures connected to the topics explored in her performing career. Cristina’s lecture “Transcending Disciplines: The Sustainable Artist of the 21st Century” has been presented fully or in sections at institutions like John Hopkins University, University of Santiago de Compostela, Pratt Institute in Manhattan, University of California, Santa Barbara and Harvard University.
Her records LATINA (Sunnyside Records 2015) and MIGRATIONS (Sunnyside Records 2013) have been the basis of her explorations of cultural identity through the arts in US academic settings. As an independent artist she has been hired to lecture, teach and perform by: Princeton University, UCSB, UC Davis, University of Wisconsin, UNC Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania and University of Texas to name a few.
In 2014 Cristina’s groundbreaking Gaita and Orchestra Commissioning Project was awarded a grant from New Music USA to build a repertoire for gaita and symphony orchestra. Galician bagpipe concertos commissioned by Pato have been premiered with Sphinx Orchestra in Detroit, Chicago Sinfonietta in Chicago, Real Filharmonía de Galicia, Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès in Barcelona and Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.
Cristina Pato is a member of the Artist Committee of the arts advocacy organization, Americans for the Arts. An active lecturer, writer, panelist and public speaker, Cristina writes a popular weekly column for Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia titled “The Art of Restlessness”.
Ms. Pato is a resident of New York City and is married to photographer Xan Padrón.