On the Road with Joanne Robinson: Show #228 Athens, GA

We had an amazing taping this past weekend in Athens, Georgia featuring a very special guest – Sir James Galway, the man with the golden flute! He was fantastic to be with, mentoring our young performers, joking with them, and putting everyone at their ease.

Sometimes before a taping, we need to make last minute changes, and this was one of those times. What transpired was some very amusing chaos featuring the very good-natured Sir James! Here, Music Producer Tom Vignieri explains what went down after our music rehearsal:

“We made a repertoire change at the last minute following our first rehearsal the night before the taping. My good friends, Michael Heald and Maggie Snyder, professors of violin and viola at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia, were in attendance and the moment it became clear we needed the Poulenc Flute Sonata for Sir James and Chris O’Riley to perform, they began working their iPhones, contacting everyone they knew who might get us the music at that late hour.

The first reply was from a former UGA student, Katherine Isbill, who is now in Seattle, Washington working on a doctorate in flute performance. Trouble was, there’s a history of playing practical jokes in the department and she didn’t believe it when we explained the music really was for James Galway. So we were standing backstage trying to figure out how to convince her when we decided to just hand the phone to Sir James.

He took the phone and was totally cheery and polite as he always is and said in his Irish brogue, ‘I know how I can prove to you that I’m actually James Galway. Ask me any question you want about James Galway!’

So she thought of a question and we listened as Sir James repeated it with somewhat of a perplexed look on his face, ‘When was my last major appearance in the US?’

There was a long pause, and then he said with a laugh, ‘You know what, I can’t recall!’ So it turns out James Galway was NOT the best person to convince Katherine that he was actually James Galway!

Then he said, ‘I know!’ and he picked up his flute. First he just played some scales, but then he broke into this outrageous performance of Carnival of Venice, dazzling everyone with his virtuosity.

He got back on the phone and a huge smile came across his face as it was clear she now believed she was actually on the phone with the great James Galway. In an email exchange after the taping Katherine wrote ‘The fact that I helped THE greatest flute player of our time has kept me on cloud nine for the past several days!’”

In the picture above, you can see Michael Heald holding up his iPhone while Sir James played for Katherine.

Make sure to tune in to our Athens show featuring the great Sir James Galway the week of March 21, 2011!