Globally renowned as the supreme interpreter of the classical flute repertoire, Sir James Galway is a consummate performer whose appeal transcends all musical boundaries. With over 30 million recordings sold worldwide, extensive international touring, frequent television appearances, tireless promotion of the arts and his passionate work in music education, Galway has been a household name for decades. His uniquely expressive interpretations of the flute literature span an extensive range of genres, from classical masterworks to high profile commissions, and provide the benchmark standard for all modern flautists. He has also collaborated on film soundtracks such as The Lord of the Rings, and partnered such popular artists as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell and Sir Elton John. The diversity of Galway’s repertoire reflects his impressive musical range, and has served to establish him as an artist of the very highest stature.
Belfast-born, Galway studied in London and Paris before embarking on his orchestral career in London’s major opera and symphonic orchestras. He took up the coveted position of solo flautist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan in 1969, before becoming one of the very first flautists to establish an international solo career in 1975. Since that time, Galway has performed worldwide with all of the leading orchestras and most prestigious conductors. He has a vast discography with 97 CDs to his name, and has enjoyed recording contracts with Sony Classics and Deutsche Grammophon. Sir James Galway maintains his busy international touring schedule, continuing to appear at major venues and festivals with many of the world’s top orchestras and conductors. After opening the 2015/2016 concert season with a sold-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London, forthcoming highlights this season include major recital and concerto tours of Asia, Europe and the United States.
Awarded the OBE in 1979, and subsequently a Knighthood for Services to Music in 2001, Sir James Galway has been the recipient of many honours and awards for his musical accomplishments. These include Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Gramophone (2014), the Classic Brits (2005), and the National Concert Hall Dublin (2013), the Grammy President’s Merit Award (2004), and addition to The Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame (2008) – as well as numerous gold and platinum recordings. In celebration of Sir James’ legacy to music, Sony Classics has honoured the ‘Man with the Golden Flute’ with the release of a special box-set containing all 71 of his Sony/RCA CDs.
As well as furthering the flute’s profile through repertoire commissions, Sir James has also published a number of articles, flute studies and books. He has collaborated with top flute-makers, Nagahara Flutes of Boston, who have created a special ‘James Galway Nagahara Flute Series’, and – to mark their 125th Anniversary – William S. Haynes also produced a James Galway Q Series flute.
Alongside his busy performing schedule, Galway devotes much of his free time to educational outreach programmes. These include the Galway Flute Festivals held around the world, and his own online flute community: First Flute (www.firstflute.com). Launched December 2013, the First Flute network allows students, teachers and music lovers first-hand access to Sir James’ expertise. Galway also gives a great deal of time to charitable organisations, including SOS, FARA, Future Talent, Youth Music (UK), The Caron Keating Foundation, Lorin Maazel’s Châteauxville Foundation, and the Shimon Peres Peace Center educational project – as well as UNICEF, for whom he is a Special Representative. He is also Ambassador to the European Brain Council.
Sir James lives with his wife and family in Switzerland.