Cristina Pato is a Galician bagpiper (gaita), a classical pianist, a writer and a passionate educator. Hailed as “a virtuosic burst of energy” by The New York Times, her professional life is devoted to teaching and performance that explores the role of the arts and sciences in society.
In addition to her work as a performing and recording musician, Cristina has been artist-in-residence at universities including Harvard and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she co-created a groundbreaking class on memory with neuroscientist Kenneth S. Kosik and artist Kim Yasuda. She has also served as Learning Advisor for Silkroad, the organization founded by Yo-Yo Ma. Cristina is the founder of the multidisciplinary Galician Connection Festival, writes a weekly column for the Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia, and was the 2019-20 Chair of Spanish Culture and Civilization at the King Juan Carlos I Center at New York University.
Cristina holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Rutgers University, degrees in piano, music theory, and chamber music from the Conservatorio de Musica del Liceu, and a Master of Digital Arts from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.
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’Farrill, New York Philharmonic, Paquito D’Rivera, Damian Woetzel and Lil’ Buck). Cristina’s unique and powerful style, 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.” Cristina fuses the influences of Latin music, jazz, pop and contemporary music to bring her musical vision to life.
Cristina has published six 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). Cristina is an active producer, curator and artistic director of multidisciplinary events (including her own festival Galician Connection and Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach Project). As performer, she is the leader of the Cristina Pato QUARTET (USA), the Cristina Pato GALICIAN TRIO (Europe), and the co-creator of the Invisible(s) Project alongside composer and violinist Mazz Swift.
Cristina served as Learning Advisor for Silkroad, the organization founded by Yo-Yo Ma, 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 developed 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.
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 this piece she started to develop a new path of understanding the power of combining arts and sciences in academic institutions. In 2016 she began an on-going collaboration with the 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) and in 2019 she was appointed Chair of Spanish Culture and Civilization at the King Juan Carlos I Center at New York University.
In 2021 Cristina has been invited by Dr. Lisa Wong to collaborate with Harvard University’s Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative, co-creating and co-teaching a seminar named “Creativity at the Edge: Health, Music and Community”.
An active lecturer, panelist and public speaker, Cristina writes a popular weekly column for Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia titled “The Art of Restlessness”.
In 2020 Cristina won both the Afundación Journalism Prize: Fernández del Riego in its 17th edition for her article Parallel Realities and the Committed Artist Award granted by the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation. Cristina has received numerous awards for her career, including the Castelao Medal (the greatest honor presented by the Galician Government), the Premio Trasalba and the Galician Culture Award. She serves in a number of advisory boards including The Americans for the Arts Artist Committee and the Consello da Cultura de Galicia.
Cristina divides her time between New York City and Galicia and is married to photographer Xan Padrón.