Flautist Galway tells awards audience of his 'bug' for practicing

Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:02pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - James Galway, known as "the man with the golden flute", attributed his success in part to his "video-game-like" style of practicing as he received a lifetime achievement award at the Gramophone Classical Music Awards on Wednesday.

Galway, 74, who has sold more than 30 million records over a half century, and had a top-10 hit in Britain with an instrumental version of John Denver's "Annie's Song", said that when he was young he spent as much time practicing as young people today spend playing video games.

"When I was a kid growing up I just played the flute all the time, it was like a bug, you know, like kids have their video games now, well I had a similar approach to the flute," Galway, 74, said before accepting the award at a ceremony in London.

A cycle of Brahms symphonies by the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, under the baton of Riccardo Chailly, was chosen as recording of the year at the awards event, which bills itself as "the Oscars" of the classical music world.

British conductor Sir Neville Marriner received an Outstanding Achievement Award for his lengthy career, which still finds him conducting at the age of 90.

Asked about his longevity as an active musician, Marriner joked, "I chose my parents quite carefully because they were both quite long-lived." He also said music was a great way to keep the mind alive and occupied.

Greek violinist and conductor Leonidas Kavakos, named Artist of the Year in an international public vote, said the award "comes from the voting of the audience -- that is, the people who love music and come to the concerts -- and in that respect I think it's the greatest honor".

Galway, who plays a 20-carat Nagahara flute made specially for him, had one of the first crossover hits with his 1978 version of "Annie's Song".   Continued...