‘His tone is not just beautiful but finely graded over the widest dynamic and expressive range.’ (GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE)
Cristo Barrios has developed an illustrious international career as a soloist and chamber musician, combining a classical and romantic repertoire with new creations, along with a particular interest in 20th-century music. In addition, his shows for clarinet, dance and free improvisation make him a versatile and unique performer.
His soloist career has taken him to perform in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, such as Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, Palau de la Música in Barcelona, Palau de la Música in Valencia, Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall in London, Konzerthaus in Berlin and Viena, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Carnegie Hall in New York. As a chamber musician he has appeared with the Elias, Minetti, Endellion, Arditti and Brodsky string quartets and with soloists Asier Polo and Maxim Rysanov.
Cristo plays with Quantum Ensemble since 2013, a chamber ensemble of which he is a founding member, and which is distinguished by an ambitious way of programming that combines the contemporary repertoire with works from the last three centuries.
His commitment to contemporary music and to the creation of new works for his instrument have led him to give a number of world premieres, including Gustavo Díaz-Jerez’s Symphonic Poem Ayssuragan with the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antoine Marguier, and Nino Díaz’s Second Clarinet Concerto with the Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev.
His interest not only in contemporary compositions, but also theoretical issues related to the collaborations between composers and soloists (and pertaining to the disciplines of musicology and philosophy), motivated him to develop an ambitious doctoral research project. This research allowed him to work in depth on some of the key works in the recent repertory for clarinet in direct contact with composers such as Einojuhani Rautavaara, Helmut Lachenmann, Kaija Saariaho and Jörg Widmann. He was awarded a PhD in musicology by the Complutense University in Madrid in 2017.
His recording projects stem from his passion for providing new musical creations to as broad an audience as possible, along with his enthusiasm for developing personal interpretations of the established repertory. Thus, Cristo Barrios recorded The Voice of the Clarinet (Divine Art Records), a CD with original transcriptions of lieder; 20th Century Music for Clarinet (Metier Records), which includes works by Bernstein, Bax, Berg, Brotons and Honegger; and IAMUS (Melomics Records), a CD with music created through an innovative project at the University of Málaga involving composers, musicians and scientists; and Deep Light, a selection of works by Weber, Finzi, Vaughan Williams, Schumann and Françaix (Ibs Classical). Cristo also recorded together with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra the work Ayssuragan by Gustavo Díaz-Jerez, a symphonic poem for clarinet solo and orchestra (Signum Classics).
As for his teaching career, Cristo Barrios has given master classes at the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra Superior Conservatory in Lisbon, the University of Arts in Zürich, the Strasbourg Conservatory, the Norwegian Academy of Music, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, the Cologne Conservatory, the Liszt Academy in Budapest and the Amsterdam Conservatory. His pedagogic endeavours are remarkable for the employment of new methodologies that introduce interdisciplinary innovations including the use of free improvisation, singing and dance in order to improve the performance skills of his students.
Cristo Barrios is honorific associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and is currently teaching at the Centro Superior Katarina Gurska, in Madrid. He is a Buffet Crampon, Vandoren and Silverstein artist and he worked with the clarinet maker René Hagmann, who made significant improvements in his clarinets.