If you're one of the millions who has seen or memorized lines from a little film called Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, you'll be familiar with the work of master flutist Sir James Galway, who performs Howard Shore's music on the Oscar-winning sound track. For Galway, one of the biggest names in classical music today, being a part of that film is just another accomplishment in his long and diverse career. When asked how he became a collaborator in such a monumental project, he casually replies with laughter, "Howard Shore asked me. It's very simple isn't it?" Galway will perform music from the film next month on Live From Lincoln Center, along with such unexpected classics as "The Pink Panther" and "Baby Elephant Walk" by Henry Mancini. Beverly Sills will host the evening in Lincoln Center's intimate Kaplan Penthouse. The flutist will be accompanied by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
Having crossed many genres of music, including his success with a cover of John Denver's "Annie's Song" in 1981, Galway continues to push his own boundaries. "I do this to show diversity of style," he explains. "Imagine one actor who was only a tragic actor and never did anything else but tragedy. Don't you think people would say, 'He's okay, but all he can do is that?'"
Since the recent release of his newest album, Wings of Song, fans have shown their support for his traditional work as well. "Do you know this album made history in music?" says Galway. "It was issued on September 13 and on the 20th it was number one on the charts. This is a total classical album."
Sir James has had three other reasons to celebrate in 2004: this year is his 50th stage anniversary, his 20th wedding anniversary to his wife and fellow flutist, Jeanne, and his 65th birthday, which is December 8. Three weeks later, on Wednesday, December 29, tune in to WNET, Channel 13 at 8 p.m. (check local PBS listings elsewhere) to see the man with the golden flute.