Sir James Galway relives childhood summers in festival trip to Derry

Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway who will star in this year's Walled City Music Festival in August
Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway who will star in this year's Walled City Music Festival in August

Sir James Galway will return to Derry this summer - as he often did during his childhood summer holidays - only this time he’ll be taking to the stage alongside his wife Lady Jeanne at the Millennium Forum as the highlight of the Walled City Music Festival.

Sir James is regarded as both the supreme interpreter of the classical flute repertoire and a consummate entertainer whose appeal crosses all musical boundaries.

Sir James has made himself a legend, a modern musical master whose virtuosity on the flute is equalled 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.

“I am really looking forward to coming to Derry again for the Walled City Festival,” said Sir James.

“When I was young we used to holiday in Derry, at a hotel on the Strand Road. I loved it there. It was right across the street from the Lough Swilly Station. It was paradise, within two minutes from the shipyard. To us kids it was magic.”

Music was in Sir James’ blood since he was a child growing up in Belfast.

“I grew up in the docks area of Belfast,” says James. “I started playing the flute at 9 years old. My uncle Joe taught me. My father played the flute, my grandfather before him. Music was in the family.

“I played in the marching bands in Belfast. They may have a negative name due to the Orange Connection but infact our band was half Catholic, half Protestant.”

Sir James nurtures young talent and devotes much of his free time supporting charitable organizations such as SOS, FARA, Future Talent, Youth Music (UK), The Caron Keating Foundation and UNICEF, with which he holds the title of special representative. He has some words of wisdom for those with dreams and aspirations of greatness.

“I would advise young people, regardless of their art, to specialise in something. Be that mathematics, art, music. It depends on what you want to do with your life. If you want to be middle of the road, be middle of the road. If you want to do something outstanding, you have to pay attention to that all the time, the whole day long. You have to be talking it, doing it, emersing yourself in it, letting it consume you.”

Sir James is very much looking forward to coming to Derry for the Walled City Music Festival.

“Northern Ireland is a prosperous place. Derry is beautiful. When I was a kid getting the train from Belfast to Derry there was a lot of space, green fields. Now it has been filled with warehouses, businesses and things.

“I’m really looking forward to staying in Derry for a few days, and playing at the Millennium Forum for the Walled City Music Festival.”

Sir James lives with his wife and family in Switzerland and currently plays on the 20K ‘Galway’ Nagahara Flute – especially commissioned for him.

Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway will take to the stage at the Millennium Forum on August 7th. Tickets are available through the Millennium Forum Box Office on 0287 1264 455.

The Walled City Music Festival runs from July 29th to August 7th.

The opening night, Friday, 29th of July, will see Bass-Baritone Jonathan Lemalu lift the eaves at the Guildhall. Saturday the 30th of July will see the Kronos Quartet take to the stage at the Great Hall, Magee at 8pm. Sunday is the turn of the Gould Piano Trio. On Wednesday musicians will thrill the audience with a gala variety performance. Friday sees the Houston Winds take to the stage at Guildhall. Saturday sees violinist Ye-Eun Choi and Cathal Breslin perform at Guildhall and the festival rounds off on Sunday, August 7th with a performance by the king of classical music, flautist Sir James Galway alongside his wife Lady Jeanne.

All concerts begin at 8pm. Tickets are available through the festival website www.walledcitymusicfestival.com and through the Millennium Forum Box Office on 0287 1264 455.