Sir James Galway, flute
The living legend of the flute, Sir James Galway is regarded as both the supreme interpreter of the classical flute repertoire and a consummate entertainer whose appeal crosses all musical boundaries.
Sir James has made himself a modern musical master, whose virtuosity on the flute is equaled only by his limitless ambitions and vision. Through his extensive touring, over 30 million albums sold, and his frequent international television appearances, Sir James has endeared himself to millions worldwide and is a tireless promoter of the arts.
Still sharing his love of performing, Sir James opened his 2014/15 season receiving the coveted Gramophone Classical Music Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the classical music industry, in a star-studded ceremony in London. His concert schedule opened with a tour through Asia, Canada, and the U.S., incorporating his educational work alongside his concert performances. A long-awaited South American tour will be preceded by a special Birthday Tribute Concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall in aid of Music Education and Autism. A return to Europe saw Sir James performing a JS Bach tribute in London, closing the year with his annual New Year’s Eve concert in Switzerland.
The New Year brought in more educational work and a tour of South Africa with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. The first South African Galway Flute Festival concluded with a spectacular Starlight Classics concert in Cape Town, incorporating flute students from the festival. Spring brought in a return to the U.S. with concerts in NY and LA to name a few, followed by a return to various performances throughout Europe.
Sir James devoted most of the summer to his educational outreach programmes, including First Flute, his online Flute education community.
In celebration of Sir James’ legacy to music, Sony Classics has honored the “Master of the Flute” with the release of a special box set containing 71 CDs—all his recordings for Sony/RCA (available at Amazon.com).
Belfast born, Sir James studied in London and Paris before embarking on his orchestral career in such prestigious orchestras such as the Sadlers Wells and Royal Covent Garden Operas, The BBC, Royal Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestra, before taking up the coveted position of solo flautist with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan.
Since launching his successful career as a soloist in 1975, his busy touring schedule sees him performing with the world’s leading orchestras and most prestigious conductors. From Galway’s lips have come definitive treatments of classical repertoire and masterworks by Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart. He also features contemporary music in his programs, including new flute works commissioned by him and for him by composers such as Adamo, Amram, Bolcom, Corigliano, Heath, Lieberman, and Maazel. Recent commissions include a concerto “Linen & Lace” by Bill Whelan (composer of Riverdance); concerto by Elaine Agnew “Dark Hedges” commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for the Royal Albert Hall Proms, and a Double Flute concerto for 2 flutes written especially for Sir James and Lady Galway by the Northern Irish Composer, Philip Hammond.
Alongside his busy performing schedule he makes time to share his wisdom and experience with the young through the 10-day “Galway Flute Festival” he holds each year with his wife, Lady Jeanne Galway, in Switzerland and the USA. Through these, and the numerous other classes they hold worldwide throughout the year, they are able to have a hands-on mentoring of the students they meet (www.galwayflutefestival.com).
Launched in December 2013, is the ground breaking “First Flute. ” Sir James’ online Educational Network is geared for students, teachers, and music lovers, allowing them to have first-hand access to Sir James’ invaluable expertise (www.firstflute.com).
Sir James continues commissioning new works for the flute, publishing articles, flute studies, and books. To celebrate his legacy and commitment to flute players all over the world, he has recently collaborated with Nagahara Flutes of Boston who have created a special “James Galway Nagahara flute series”; as part of their 125th Anniversary, William S. Haynes have also produced a James Galway Q Series edition.
A discography of over 70 CDs with BMG Sony Classics and Deutsche Grammophon ranging from the great classics such as Mozart and Bach, his performing on the sound track of Lord of the Rings (Return of the King), and his recording of “O’Reilly Street” with the Cuban timba group, Tiempo Libre, reflects his mastery of musical diversity.
Sir James has played for such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth II, Pope John Paul II, President Clinton, President George W. Bush, President George H.W. Bush, President Mary McAleese, President Michael D. Higgins, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Prince Charles, HRH The Princess Royal, The Empress of Japan, The Queen of Norway, Queen Sofia of Spain, Princess Diana, TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent, President Shimon Peres and most recently, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and shared the stage with an amazing array of entertainers including Stevie Wonder, Henry Mancini, John Denver, Elton John, The Chieftains, Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, Jessye Norman, Cleo Laine, and Andrea Bocelli. He performed with Pink Floyd in their memorable concert at the Berlin Wall, was part of the Nobel Peace concert in Norway and performed at the G Seven summit hosted by Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace.
He also devotes much of his free time supporting charitable organizations such as SOS, FARA, Future Talent, Youth Music (UK), The Caron Keating Foundation, Lorin Maazel’s Châteauxville Foundation, Shimon Peres Peace Center educational project and UNICEF, with which he holds the title of special representative. He is also Ambassador to the European Brain Council.
Among the many honors and awards for his musical achievements are: the Gramophone 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award; the Grammy President’s Merit Award; Classic Brits Lifetime Achievement Award; The Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame; The National Concert Hall Dublin Lifetime Achievement Award, and numerous gold and platinum CDs. In December 2009, Sir James was awarded the honor of being made the first Artist Laureate of the Ulster Orchestra. He has been honored twice by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with The OBE in 1979 and again in 2001 with a Knighthood for his services to music.
Sir James lives with his wife and family in Switzerland and currently plays on the 20K “Galway” Nagahara Flute, especially commissioned for him.