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.
The BBC commissioned the documentary “BEING JAMES GALWAY” commentated by Jeremy Irons. It is already in international circulation, highlighting the magnitude this great artist continues to bring to his fans around the world.
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. 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 & Lady Galway by the Northern Irish Composer, Philip Hammond.
The Galway Flute Academy is Sir James and Lady Galway’s educational platform, where they share their wisdom and experience with the musical generation of tomorrow. The Academy, which includes daily master classes, weekend residencies and ten-day flute festivals, gives them such joy to be able to change and enhance the lives of flutists of all levels. To further connect them with students, educators and flute lovers, the Galway’s created First Flute www.firstflute.com, an online teaching series, which allows the student to learn from Sir James anytime, anywhere and takes them on a visual journey into his world of teaching. The latest addition to the Galway Flute Academy is the launch of LiveLearn. This allows everyone to connect with them like never before, through live streaming classes, webinars, private lessons and interactive Q&A sessions. www.galwayfluteacademy.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 Gemeinhardt Flutes introducing the Galway Crusader Headjoint. Nagahara Flutes of Boston have created a special ‘James Galway Nagahara Flute Series’; and as part of their 125th Anniversary, Wm. S. Haynes Co have also produced a James Galway Q Series edition.
A discography of over 70 CD’s with Sony BMG Classics and Deutsche Grammophon ranging from the great classics such as Mozart & Bach, his legendary performance 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. In celebration of Sir James’ legacy to music, Sony Classics honoured the ‘Master of the Flute’ with the release of a special box set containing 71 CD’s - all his recordings for Sony/RCA (available at Amazon.com).
Sir James has played for such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth II, Pope John Paul II, President William J. 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 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, 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; Honorary Doctorate at Birmingham Conservatoire; Honorary Prince Consort Professor at the Royal College of Music in London and most recently the Kennedy Center Gold Medal in the Arts. He is also the recipient of numerous gold and platinum CD’s. In December 2009, Sir James was awarded the honour of being made the first Artist Laureate of the Ulster Orchestra. He has been honoured 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 20 carat ‘Galway’ Nagahara Flute – especially commissioned for him.