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”.
The Belfast-born flautist “not only put the flute on the musical map in modern times, but has been a powerful advocate for classical music”, Gramophone Editor-in-Chief James Jolly said.
As for the recording of the Brahms symphonies by the world’s oldest orchestra, Jolly said, “Riccardo Chailly can be guaranteed to make us listen anew to the classics of the repertoire, and this Brahms set is no exception. With the Gewandhausorchester on magnificent form, this is a recording that epitomizes classical music’s way of reinventing itself and staying relevant to every generation.”
The magazine chose British independent Delphian Records as its Label of the Year while the Copenhagen-based Nightingale Quartet was chosen as Young Artist of the Year.
In the category awards for recordings, the winners were:
Baroque Instrumental: CPE Bach, Wurttemberg Sonatas, Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord.
Baroque Vocal: CPE Bach “Magnificat”, soloists, RIAS Chamber Choir, Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, Hans-Christoph Rademann, conductor.
Chamber Music: Schubert “Death and the Maiden”, Pavel Haas Quartet and Danulo Ishizaka, cello.
Choral: Mozart, Requiem, Dunedin Consort, John Butt, conductor.
Concerto: Prokofiev Piano Concertos Nos 1-5, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet piano, BBC Philharmonic, Gianandra Noseda, conductor.
Contemporary: Benjamin “Written on Skin”, soloists, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, George Benjamin, conductor.
Early Music: Marenzia, First Book of Madrigals, La Compagnia del Madrigale.
Instrumental: Mompou, Piano Works, Arcadi Volodos, piano.
Opera: Ravel, “L’heure espagnole” and “L’enfant et les sortileges”, soloists, Glyndebourne Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Kazushi Ono, conductor
Orchestral: Brahms, Symphonies, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Riccardo Chailly, conductor.
Recital: “Arise my muse”, Iestyn Davies, countertenor, Richard Egarr, harpsichord.
Solo Vocal: Schubert “Winterreise”, Jonas Kaufmann, tenor, Helmut Deutsch, piano.
Reporting by Michael Roddy; Editing by Ruth Pitchford