Sir James Galway is regarded as both a supreme interpreter of the classical flute repertoire and a consummate entertainer whose appeal crosses all musical boundaries. As the most televised and recorded classical artist performing today 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. As an instructor and humanitarian, Sir James is a tireless promoter of the arts. Indeed, in addition to keeping a busy touring schedule in which he gives recitals and performs with the world's leading orchestras, Sir James conducts annual master classes. He devotes much of his free time discharging his duties as president of Flutewise, a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that donates instruments to low-income students and young people with disabilities.
Born in Belfast, Sir James Galway began playing the penny whistle as a small child before switching to the flute. He continued his studies at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, followed by the Paris Conservatory. He began his career at the Sadlers Wells Opera and the Royal Opera Covent Garden, which led to positions with the BBC Symphony Orchestra where he played piccolo, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra where he was Principal Flute. In 1969 he was appointed Principal Flute of the Berlin Philharmonic. In 1975 Sir James launched his career as a soloist and within one year he had played 120 concerts, including appearances with all the London orchestras.
Since then, he has travelled extensively giving recitals, performing with the world's leading orchestras, participating in chamber music engagements, popular music concerts and giving masterclasses. From Galways' lips have come definitive treatments of classical repertoire and masterworks by Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart. In addition to his performances of the standard classical repertoire, he features contemporary music in his programs, including new flute works commissioned by and for him. Works from composers such as Amram, Bolcolm, Corigliano, Heath and Lieberman also grace his repertoire.
Sir James Galway tours extensively in the US, Asia and Europe. Highlights of the 2004-2005 U.S. season include orchestral performances with orchestras such as: the National Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony Orchestra and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and recital engagements in cities such as: New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Ann Arbor, Bowling Green and others.
Sir James' European presence is never ending, with performances at the Musikverein in Vienna, Salzburg Festival, Royal Albert Hall in London, Munich, Hamburg, Venice, Dublin and Belfast.
Most recently Sir James has taken up the baton, and in addition to numerous play/conduct engagements around the world he holds the illustrious position of Principal Guest Conductor of the London Mozart Players. This season's highlights with the London Mozart Players include two special Christmas Concerts in the Birmingham Symphony Hall, London's Royal Festival Hall as well as two concerts in Glasgow and Edinburgh with the young harpist Catrin Finch.
From the outset of his career, Sir James Galway has dazzled viewers young and old with his virtuosity and his engaging personality through appearances on such television programs as the Tonight Show, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Sesame Street, and PBS's Live from Lincoln Center, and as host of his own holiday specials. On July 4, 2000, Sir James helped celebrate the first Independence Day of the century as a guest soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra in a nationally televised PBS special entitled "A Capitol Fourth," broadcast live from the West Lawn of the Capitol. In July 1999 he appeared on the acclaimed PBS series, Live from Lincoln Center for the opening performance of New York's Mostly Mozart Festival. He also participated in the historic "The Wall" concert in Berlin. In December 1998, Sir James appeared on the Fox Family channel broadcast of the Nobel Peace Concert in Oslo, Norway, where he was the only classical musician sharing the stage with such pop stars as Elton John, Phil Collins, Alanis Morissette, Shania Twain and Enrique Iglesias among others. Sir James has also shared the stage with and performed for such dignitaries as President Clinton, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and Pope John Paul II.
Galway has frequently collaborated with award-winning musicians such as Henry Mancini, Irish pianist Phil Coulter, John Denver, The Chieftains, Cleo Laine. Sir James' 1997 album "Legends" spent 29 weeks in the Top 5 of Billboard magazine's World Music Charts, while Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson narrated their 1998 effort "Winter's Crossing." Galway performed at a St. Patrick's Day 1999 concert at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City to benefit victims of violence in Northern Ireland. They reprised the performance at the White House in Washington, D.C.
Galway was named the 1997 Musician of the Year by Musical America and has received Record of the Year awards from Billboard and Cash Box magazines, as well as the Grand Prix du Disque for his recordings of the Mozart Concerti. His 60th birthday was commemorated with 1999's "Sixty Years," a 15-CD retrospective of his works for the RCA Victor Red Seal label. Twice Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England has honored him, in 1979 with an Order of the British Empire and in 2001 with a Knighthood for services to music. In February 2004, Sir James was given the President's Merit Award from the Recording Academy at the Grammy's 8th Annual "Salute to Classical Music."
Sir James Galway recently signed a recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. His first release "Wings of Song" reached number one on the Classical charts only one week after it's release in August 2004. Sir James has a discography of over fifty albums on the RCA Victor Red Seal, reflecting his mastery of repertoire ranging from the traditional masters to Japanese and Irish folk music and now jazz. Even his more recent releases reveal the breadth Galway brings to his music making. The summer of 2002 saw the release of: "The Best of James Galway", a two-CD set featuring both classical and pop work; the children's oriented classical collection "Music For My Little Friends"; and "A Song of Home: An American Musical Journey", a collection of North American folk music which Galway performs with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason. In January 2004 he released, "Quiet on the Set - James Galway at the Movies" including music from movies such as, Cinema Paradisio, Il Postino, Emma, Braveheart, and Notting Hill. Sir James Galway also performs on several tracks from the soundtrack for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" in a score composed, orchestrated and conducted by Academy Award-winner Howard Shore.
James Galway is the author/editor of several books, including a series of performance editions of flute works for G. Schirmer, and a series of books by noted musicians about their instruments. He has recently completed a book on how to play the flute titled "Boehm Twelve Grand Studies op. 15 - The 1848 editions plus a Master Class by James Galway".
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