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Flute legend James Galway keeps pure classical music alive - The Red and Black : Variety

Flute legend James Galway keeps pure classical music alive

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Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 9:00 am | Updated: 10:01 am, Wed Mar 6, 2013.

The living legend of the flute is coming to Hodgson Concert Hall.

Thursday, flute virtuoso James Galway will make Athens the second stop on his “Legacy Tour.”

In the performance, the flutist will embrace several musical genres and time periods, with compositions by W.A. Mozart, Claude Debussy, Henry Mancini and others.

“Through the years, I’ve played many concerts, and I’ve seen all the pieces that the people like,” Galway said. “I thought, ‘This is a good opportunity to do pieces that I like to play and that the public like to hear.’”

Galway has performed with a myriad of artists, including Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell and Pink Floyd — not to mention leading orchestras around the world.

Still, Galway called the combining of classical and pop music “a waste of time.”

“A Haydn symphony is a Haydn symphony,” he said. “It’s written in a very particular time frame, historically speaking, and you can’t rock ‘n’ roll it. If you try to use these popular techniques to a Haydn symphony, you really don’t get anywhere because in the end, it sounds much better played on original instruments and with a forceful performance given by people who really care about the music.”

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Galway studied flute in London and Paris before playing in the Royal Philharmonic and London Symphony orchestras. In 1975, he decided to pursue a solo career.

Now, he has performed for three American presidents, several monarchs — even a pope. Queen Elizabeth II honored Galway with the Order of the British Empire in 1979 and a knighthood in 2001 for his services to music.

But success doesn’t come easily. Behind Galway’s accomplishments are thousands of hours of dedicated practice.

“You can be as talented as you want,” he said. “If you don’t do the work, you won’t get there. Now, you know, the reason that you do all this work is to fine-tune — here’s a pun — fine-tune the performance that you’re going to give. Now, if you don’t do all the exercises and everything like that, you ain’t gonna get there.”

Galway recently filmed 15 high-definition flute lessons, which will be the first installment in the “James Galway Online Flute Tutor Series.” The interactive series is an attempt to offer flutists around the world access to comprehensive flute instruction.

“This is a very expensive sort of thing to do, and it will be the highest quality that you will see of anything like this,” Galway said. “At the end of 15 lessons, you should be able to play the flute reasonably.”

But for now, Galway has simple counsel for aspiring performers — focus.

“The only advice I can give these kids is to steer clear of bad influences,” he said. “A rock ‘n’ roll concert’s gonna occupy your mind for several days. And it’s distracting. I mean, I’m a big fan of the Pink Floyd and, you know, Mick Jagger and all these guys. I mean, they do a fine job of what they do, but the two things are different. And if you wanna do classical music, you have to really concentrate on classical music, and you have to take it seriously. But the bottom line is — start practicing. Because for every minute you’re not practicing, somebody else is.”

JAMES GALWAY with Lady Jeanne Galway and the Galway Chamber Players

WHEN: March 7, 8 p.m.

WHERE: Hodgson Concert Hall

PRICE: $5 (students), $20-59 (public)

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