18 January 2020
Sir James Galway stresses that there’s no other way to musical excellence than practicing. Photo: HKEJ
Sir James Galway stresses that there’s no other way to musical excellence than practicing. Photo: HKEJ

James Galway: Practice is the only way to excellence

Renowned flautist Sir James Galway, dubbed “The Man with the Golden Flute”, made a long-anticipated return to Hong Kong for a concert with the City Chamber Orchestra Jan. 31.

Tickets quickly sold out. Galway said he’s glad to know there are so many classical music lovers in Hong Kong.

He said he likes the city very much.

“I hope I will have more chances to play for Hong Kong audiences,” Galway said.

“My dream is to stay here for two or three weeks to teach the kids how to play flute.”

Having studied at, but never graduated from, two of the most prestigious music schools in England – the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Galway has played with the most distinguished orchestras in the world, from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was principal flautist.

He chose an all-Bach program for Hong Kong: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major and No. 4 in G major, and Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor.

Galway said these are his favorite pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach and that he had played them several times.

“They are beautiful and music that the audience has been listening to forever,” he said.

His wife, fellow flautist Jeanne Galway, performed with him this time.

Besides playing flute, Sir James devotes some of his time to music education.

He has established an online flute education center to share his thoughts and experience.

Galway advises pupils who learning to play the flute to practice more, in addition to “listening to the masterpieces, to know whom to learn from and to set a goal.”

The most important thing to being a good musician is practice, Galway said.

He stressed: “There’s no other way other than practice. You need to practice more. When I was in my 20s, I had already accumulated over 10,000 hours of practicing time. I practice every day.

“You can only be inspired by frequent practice. The composers always bring me inspiration through their music.”

Galway, 76, said the best way to recharge yourself is to have a good sleep.

“I usually sleep seven to eight hours a day and will sometimes take a nap in the afternoon,” he said.

In modern society, the life of a classical musician has been getting harder, Galway said.

But he believes classical music is irreplaceable and its lovers are everywhere.

He also likes different genres of music, especially jazz.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 2.

Translation by Myssie You

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Galway and other famous musicians perform at a concert in Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Photo: HKEJ

Galway has been received by heads of state such as Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and then US president Bill Clinton. Photos: HKEJ

Writer of the Hong Kong Economic Journal