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Q&A | 28 Questions for Sir James Galway

By Michael Vincent on October 20, 2014

Sir James Galway

Every so often, MT poses 60 questions to a local or visiting artist in Toronto who has made our classical music community that much more interesting. They pick and choose. The minimum response is 20 answers. A kind of Rorschach personality test, if you will.

Nicknamed “The Man With the Golden Flute”, Sir James Galway is one of the most accomplished flautists in world. He has performed for Presidents, Popes, Emperors and Queens, and shared the stage with entertainers including Liza Minnelli and B. B. King, Pink Floyd and Jessye Norman. With over 70 recordings and 30 million albums sold, Sir James is a force to be reckoned with. In September 2014, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Gramophone, and this fall, in celebration of Sir James’ 75th birthday, Sony Classical released The James Galway Complete RCA Album Collection, a 71-CD and 2-DVD collection. 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. Most recently, Sir James has released an online series of lessons geared for flute students and music lovers available here.

Sir James Galway will be performing on October 25 , 2014 at Koerner Hall, Toronto, ON. Ticket info and details here.


Your first three record store purchases

Bach Brandenberg Concerti, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, and the Beethoven String Quartets.

Drink/cocktail of choice?

Whiskey or Whisky.

Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure?


What is your ancestry?

100% Irish.

Your three favourite films?

Dickens’ Little Dorrit, Some like is Hot, and Gone with the Wind.

What is the best thing about your work?

I really enjoy playing the flute.

What is the worst thing about your work?

Traveling, airports.

The talent that you wish you possessed?

I would love to play the piano.

What is the game that you’re best at?


Your first memory?

Moving house and losing my teddy bear.

The first album that made you love music?

John Amadio (Australian flutist), playing on a 78.

Three pieces, songs, or arias that you could listen to on repeat for an hour?

The Flying Dutchman, Rigoletto, La Bohème.

Your role models?

Jesus, Pavarotti, Domingo, Dame Kiri.

Your favourite sound?

The Berlin Philharmonic.

Your least favourite sound?

Rap music.

Your favourite smells?

Grilling foods.

Your least favourite smells?

Exhaust fumes

Is there a local music store that could sell you anything?

Yes. I bought my Steinway grand in a local store in Luzerne.

If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you?


Where did you go to school?

Belfast [where he grew up], London[ Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School], and Paris [Paris Conservatoire].

Your most regrettable purchase ever?

Shares in a music publishing venture.

What was the luckiest moment in your life?

When I met Jeanne Helen Cinnante.

What was the unluckiest moment in your life?

When I fell down the stairs. [Accident at Sir James’ home in 2010 which resulted in a fractured left wrist and shattered right elbow.]

The biggest mistake you’ve ever made?

Don’t know as I’ve made so many!

What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

What is the one animal that scares you the most?

Bengal tiger.

If you had a motto, what would it be?

Hard work produces a master.

Have you ever fired a gun? If so, what were the circumstances?

Yes, at a rifle club in Perth, Australia.

The best way to die?

When it happens I will tell you!

The piece of music you want played at your funeral?

The Mozart Requiem.


Michael Vincent
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