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Concert at Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Fundación Barrié celebrates its 50th anniversary with a concert at Santiago Cathedral in which a musical tribute will be paid to the Portal of Glory.

Carlos Núñez leads an unprecedented project, accompanied by 75 musicians, which gathers for the first time all of the instruments featured in the Portal of Glory. These comprise four generations of Galician and overseas musicians, both from ancient and traditional music, who will materialize this unique musical recreation, led by one of our most universal artists and also one of the best bagpipe players in the world.

Wooden replicas of the instruments carved in the Portal of Glory will be used for this concert. With it, Fundación Barrié celebrates half a century of existence, simultaneously adding value to projects of heritage recovery developed in Galicia and, in particular, originating in Santiago’s Cathedral. Some of these are the wooden reconstruction of the instruments carved in the Portal of Glory; the reconstruction of the stone choir; the cataloguing and digitalization of the Notary’s protocols of the Cathedral archives; the restoration of the Cathedral organ, or the restoration of the Portal of Glory, currently under way.

The Sound of Stars

Fundación Barrié celebrates its 50th anniversary and wants to commemorate it by means of the image and symbolism conveyed by music. Close to the Portal of Glory (whose research it has supported for many years with projects of international scope), and with a concert led by Carlos Núñez, in which Heritage, the guarantor of our identity and values, is understood as something which should not only be taken care of, but also transmitted.

This author can bear witness, as a 30 year long collaborator of Fundación Barrié, of the wide range of projects and initiatives, of a more or less academic nature, where ancient music and tradition went hand in hand with another aspect carefully protected by our Foundation. (I’m referring here to the publishing of songbooks, conferences on the Codex Calixtinus, Galician carols, instruments in the Portal and their reconstruction, symposia on Said Armesto, etc.) That aspect is education and dissemination of results, through publications, concerts, young musicians’ cycles, grants or school visits, keeping in line with its institutional statement: “regional commitment and a broader outward mission, fully concerned with the present while always aware that our true responsibility is to the future, this is the essence of Pedro Barrie’s dream, who always considered education to be the basis for all possible social and individual improvement”.

Which is the best way to render it into some sort of simultaneous interpretation of the results? By allowing a revision of the past interpretation (helping us to handle and to transform the concepts of authenticity, tradition and modernity, among others); supporting Galician builders who are nowadays present everywhere with their replicas of the instruments in the Portal; with technical or pedagogical editions which are international references (La Música Medieval en Galicia, Cantigas do Mar. Homenaxe a Joan de Cangas e Martín Códax, Los Villancicos Gallegos, El Códice Calixtino y la Música de su Tiempo); or by opening the pages of Galician songbooks (those by Casto Sampedro-Filgueira Valverde, Martínez Torner-Bal y Gay, or Schubert-Santamarina) to new readings and live performances, such as the concert we will enjoy today; with assignments, re-editions, contests, etc. We are always there at the forefront of communication, with appealing systems of dissemination and presentation.
As a synthesis of that tangible and intangible achievement of the Fundación Barrie’s management, let me quote another text containing those principles which ruled this Foundation for 50 years of continuous surveillance: “Heritage is a collective responsibility that demands both immediate care and long-term planning. For these reasons, we have always emphasized collective efforts in our initiatives. We consider Heritage as something that is received and must be transmitted, not only in its material qualities, but more fundamentally, in its immaterial qualities, and as something that should also bear the mark of all those who have enjoyed and benefitted from it”.

I should recall, before referring to this concert we will enjoy today, that this whole musical context emerges as a replica of the former one held before the Portal of Glory at this Cathedral on November 27, 1991, with attendees such as Her Majesty the Queen Sofía, the Archbishop of Santiago and the President of the Foundation, Ms. Carmela Arias y Díaz de Rábago. The replicas of the Portal debuted on that occasion, at the feet of Master Matthew’s work, with the groups In Itinere, from the University of Santiago, and Kalenda Maya, from Oslo, both of them conducted by me. There were also a dozen luthiers who also wish to commemorate the anniversary today as builders and musicians. The unforgettable show titled Os Sons do Portal travelled for years through Europe and America, bringing recitals and exhibitions to the main instruments museums in the world.
My admired friend Carlos Núñez, who used to attend our first concerts in Vigo back in the 1970s, when he was just 8 or 9 (holding his dad’s hand while holding a recorder in the other), to watch us playing the “ancient” instruments, would later on go to release his first solo record, A Irmandade das Estrelas, in 1996, one year after our Portal project was brilliantly completed with a synthesis book titled Los Instrumentos del Portal, su Construcción y a Música de su Tiempo. This was published in two volumes by Prof. López-Calo, together with the CD by In Itinere Los Sonidos del Portal.

Although I had already said so during my University lectures, and also with Carlos Núñez himself, I have always deemed his record -and those two labeling words-as the Notary’s file attesting the heritage of my Portal project. With the Brotherhood (“Hermandad”) Carlos gathered instrument players and singers who somehow tried to combine tradition with day to day modernity, coming and going along the endless ways to Santiago. The Codex Calixtinus already wrote, when describing the eve of the Apostle’s celebrations and the pilgrims of olden days (in the sermon Veneranda Dies) around 1140: “It is a pleasure and a joy to behold the pilgrims’ choirs at the foot of the altar of venerable Saint James in perpetual vigilance: the Germans on one side, the Franks on the other, the Italians next to them; they are in groups, the candles are burning in their hands, that is why the whole church shines as the sun on a bright day (…) Some play zythers, other lyres, others tympani, others flutes, chanters, trumpets, harps, violas, British or Gaulish rottas, while others sing with zythers, accompanied by various instruments, they keep awake all night.”

With a dome covered in stars, we find ourselves under the same roof of the Way of Saint James, so frequently traveled in the search for that necessary approach to ancient and traditional music. There were other Galician researchers who had already formulated it: Santiago Tafall, Said Armesto, Oviedo y Arce, Filgueira Valverde or López-Calo; this is a proposal which we may not close down definitely from a scientific perspective. However, aesthetically, we must reformulate it, in order to find the meeting point of our identity and self-esteem in the ancient and popular.

Undoubtedly, tonight’s program, with singers and players from that Brotherhood of Stars, is actually a recollection of the 1991 concert, and a sequel of Núñez’s recording from 1996: liturgical music such as the Salve attributed to S. Pedro de Mezonzo, or the polyphonic trope of Congaudeant Catholici in the Calixtinus; pseudo-liturgical music, such as the famous hymn of German pilgrims Dum Pater Familias, a Galician Christmas carol form Mondoñedo, or the sounds of chirimías from Galician cathedrals; cultivated and simultaneously popular music such as Holy Mary’s Canticles, or the Romance de Don Gaiferos (a beautiful Jacobean “invention” disseminated by Santalices) or the Hymn of the Ancient Kingdom of Galicia; or else popular pieces such as the beautiful Variacións sobre a Gayta.

Now we must literally repeat the text of the sermon Veneranda Dies) around 1140: “It is a pleasure and a joy to behold the pilgrims’ choirs at the foot of the altar of venerable Saint James (…) singing and playing varied instruments: some of them were direct protagonists and pioneers of the adventures related to the Portal (Francisco Luego or Luciano Pérez, two great builders); while others took part with me in our trips under the stars (Rodrigo Romaní, Xurxo Lois Varela, Valentín Novio). All the rest are entitled to my admiration and appreciation because they also tried to search for that harmony between the past, the present and the future: singing the Arabian-Andalusian repertoire, playing ancient instruments (organistrum, nyckelharpas, violas, bagpipes, flutes, chirimías, organ, harps or rottas…), making us believe that such a brotherhood under the stars will allow us to lift ourselves above what we so much dislike in our daily lives.

Carlos Villanueva, Professor of Music of Santiago University.


FLAVIA ALONSO – Portal harp, Celtic harp
PANCHO ÁLVAREZ – Portal Eight-shaped Vielle, Viola, Hurdy-Gurdy and Voice

ANTÍA AMEIXEIRAS - Portal Oval Vielle, Traditional Violin, Voice

MARCO AMBROSINI – Portal Vielle, Nyckelharpa

MARTI BELTRÁN –Portal Lute, Baroque Guitar

MARCOS CAMPOS – Galician Bagpipe
ANDONI CONDE – Portal Oval Vielle, Violin, Voice
ABRAHAM CUPEIRO – Portal French Horns, Horns

PEDRO ESTEVAN - Percussion
CARMEN GALLEGO – Portal Oval Vielle, Violin, Voice
MARIÑA GARCÍA - BOUSO - Portal Oval Vielle, Violin

RAÚL LACILLA - Medieval Cornamuse

FRANCISCO LUENGO - Xelmírez Palace Viola, Viola da Gamba
ÁLVARO VILLAMARÍN – Portal French Horn, Horn

TIN NOVIO – Portal Lute, Xelmírez Citole, Theorbo, Baroque Guitar

XURXO NÚÑEZ - Percussion
BEGOÑA OLAVIDE – Psaltery and Portal Rotta, Voice

LUCIANO PÉREZ - Organistrum

LAURA PUERTO – Portal Harp, Cross-Strung Harp, Voice

RODRIGO ROMANÍ – Portal Harp and Rotta, Celtic Harp, Voice

JOHANNA ROSE - Portal Eight-shaped Viola, Viola da gamba

SARA RUIZ - Portal Eight-shaped Viola, Viola da gamba

ALEJANDRO TONATIUH HERNÁNDEZ – Portal Oval Vielle, Violin, Voice

XURXO VARELA - Portal Viola, Viola da Gamba, Voice

AURORE VIZENTINI - Tenora, Whistle

XARABAL Bagpipes Band