More than five decades after he began performing, Belfast-born flutist James Galway on Wednesday (Dec. 12) received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II at London’s Buckingham Palace. He was awarded an MBE, or Member of the Order of the British Empire. The 62-year-old son of a shipyard worker, styled “the man with the golden flute,” has sold more than 30 million records of everything from Christmas carols to Celtic melodies and pop numbers.
“In March last year I underwent heart surgery so to be at Buckingham Palace today, being made a knight, is a tremendous feeling,” Galway said after the ceremony. “It’s not bad for a boy from Belfast.”
Galway, who entertained other award winners at the palace with an impromptu tune on the penny whistle, said he thought he was dreaming when the palace informed him that he had been awarded a knighthood — “but when I came to I was delighted.”
Last month, the artist completed a brief European tour with the London Mozart Players, performing Shubert’s Symphony No 5, among other selections. In September, he performed along with singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter and opera singer Frederica von Stade at “A Concert for America” Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., benefiting the United Way’s September 11th Fund.
Earlier this year, Galway’s RCA album “Love Songs” peaked at No. 8 on Billboard’s Top Classical Crossover albums chart.
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