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Sir James Galway and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra

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Leslie Schallock

Staff writer

On Sun. Nov. 7, the Roanoke Civic Center hosted the world-renowned flautist, Sir James Galway with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra.  The Irish gentleman is known for his unique interpretation and style of classical music. 

He is busy year-round with numerous concert tours and flute clinics. He brought his wife, Lady Jeanne Galway with him on this tour.  Born in the U.S., Lady Galway is also a flutist and frequently performs with her husband.

Sir Galway performed the famous Flute Concerto No. 2 in D Major, K. 314 by W. A. Mozart.  This three-movement piece he made all his own, incorporating his iconic vibrato and unprecedented breathing patterns. Never the less, his runs up and down the flute were flawless and effortless and made the piece come together in true style.

“I have never heard anyone play like Galway.  His vibrato, in particular, is truly like no other player.” Libby Compton ’14, who attended, remarked on his performance.

The Symphony performed Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides, Op. 26 “Fingal’s Cave” afterward.  This selection was exceptional.  For this smaller orchestra, they easily filled the massive hall with intense sound.

Eventually, Lady Galway made her appearance on stage with her husband for Cimerosa’s Concerto for Two Flutes in G Major.  The audience could tell how much the two loved to perform together at this bright, fun piece.

The audience seemed unanimously impressed at the musical accomplishments of Lady Galway.  Despite her accomplished partner, she held her own and blended beautifully with her notes and rhythms.

As an unexpected addition to the performance, Sir Galway played a few “traditionals,” as he called them.  After a few Irish anecdotes, he gave the audience an arrangement of Danny Boy, Shenandoah, and the traditional classical flute excerpt, Badinerie, from Johann S. Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B Minor.

After all was said and done and the crowd began to disperse, Sir James Galway came out serenading all with an Irish jig on a penny whistle.  Truly, his classical style derives from his lightness and adroitness of fingering techniques.

The Roanoke Civic Center hosts an array of live entertainment year-round, as does the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra.  Check their websites for details on events and student ticket pricing.