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Sir James Galway

About this Artist

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, Galway appears all over the world in concert – an extensive tour of the U.S. was followed by a tour of Asia and a long-awaited return to Australia – during the 2010/11 season. Other dates included stopovers in Russia, Israel, Hungary, Germany, Italy, and his adopted country of Switzerland. 2011 began with a rare UK appearance – with the Brandenburg Sinfonia at St Martin-in-the-Fields on January 25 – before the indefatigable maestro took off to the U.S. for a tour that sees him collaborating with the Grammy-winning Emerson Quartet for a series of concerts that will include Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. Continuing on in the U.S., Sir James will perform in Florida and Texas in recital with his wife, Lady Jeanne Galway, and the young Irish pianist, Michael McHale. He concludes with a performance of William Bolcom’s Lyric Concerto with the New Orleans Philharmonic.

Belfast-born, Sir James studied in London and Paris before embarking on his career in such orchestras as the Sadler’s Wells and Royal Covent Garden operas and the BBC, Royal Philharmonic, and London Symphony orchestras, before taking up the coveted position of solo flutist with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan.

Since launching his successful career as a soloist in 1975, Galway has maintained a busy touring schedule that 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 from composers such as Adamo, Amram, Bolcom, Corigliano, Heath, Lieberman, and Maazel. Recently commissioned are two new works – Chaconne by Cindy McTee for flute and strings, and an Irish concerto by Bill Whelan (composer of River Dance) – both to be premiered during the 2011/2012 season.

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,, 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 he has 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, the Classic Brits Lifetime Achievement Award, numerous gold and platinum CDs, and induction 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 CDs with BMG Sony Classics and Deutsche Grammophon, ranging from the great classics such as Mozart and Bach to the soundtrack of Lord of the Rings and 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 favorite collaborations. In March, Sony will release 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.