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 legend, 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.
Arguably the busiest man in classical music, the 2011/12 season sees Galway appearing all over the world in concert – opening the season with a tour of China, Korea & Japan. An extensive tour of North America follows on, including performances with the Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit, Roanoke & Montreal Symphonies and recital performances in New York, Toronto and the American Midwest. European engagements include performances with the Orchestre National de Lyon and a New Years Concert with the Zurich Kammerorchestra. Other performances include a long awaited Spring Tour of South America followed by performances in Ireland, UK, Germany and Italy.
Belfast born, Sir James studied in London and Paris before embarking on his orchestral career in such prestigious orchestras such as the Sadlers Wells & 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. Recently commissioned are two new works; a Double Flute Suite for 2 flutes and piano written especially for Sir James & Lady Galway by the Northern Irish Composer, Philip Hammond; and the other an Irish concerto by Bill Whelan (composer of River Dance). Both to be premiered in the 2011/12 season.
The 1st James Galway International Flute Competition will be held in Belfast, Northern Ireland in June 2012, in collaboration with the Ulster Orchestra, BBC Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Northern Ireland Arts Council. As part of the legacy of Sir James, he has created this platform to help launch and promote young flutists through this competition.
Alongside his busy performing schedule he makes time to share his wisdom and experience conducting annual master classes, commissioning new works for the flute, publishing articles, flute studies and books (his latest autobiography, entitled The Man with the Golden Flute, a Celtic Minstrel, was published by John Wiley & Son). To celebrate his legacy and commitment to flute players all over the world, he has recently collaborated with Conn-Selmer Inc, in the development of a new, high quality student flute, aptly called ‘The Galway Spirit’. His website www.thegalwaynetwork.com is devoted to students and educators.
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, Prince Charles, HRH The Princess Royal, The Empress of Japan, The Queen of Norway, Princess Diana, TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent, and most recently President Shimon Peres, 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 and UNICEF, with which he holds the title of special representative.
Among the many honors and awards for his musical achievements are; the Recording Academy’s President’s Merit Award; Classic Brits Lifetime Achievement Award; numerous gold and platinum CD’s and most recently inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. 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. In December 2009, Sir James was awarded the honor of being made the first Artist Laureate of the Ulster Orchestra.
2009 saw the release of the spectacular Vivaldi DVD by Hardy Classics, with I Solisti Veneti, Claudio Scimone and Lady Galway recorded live at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, Italy.
A discography of over 65 CD’s with BMG Sony Classics and Deutsche Grammophon ranging from the great classics such as Mozart & Bach, his performing on the sound track of ‘Lord of the Rings’ (Return of the King) a recent release “O’Reilly Street” with the Cuban timba group, Tiempo Libre, reflects his mastery of musical diversity. Latest releases include a 70th Birthday compilation of some of the Maestro’s favourite collaborations. In March, Sony will be releasing as part of their ‘Sony Classical Masters’ series, a 12 CD box set titled “James Galway – The Great Flute Concerto Edition”.
Sir James lives with his wife and family in Switzerland and currently plays on the 20K ‘Galway’ Nagahara Flute – especially commissioned for him.