Rhinegold Woolf works with Sir James Galway

Lucy Thraves


Premieres: March’s new music

9:00, 1st March 2019

Alex Woolf’s Golden Rhapsody was recorded by Sir James Galway in 2017, but it will receive its first live performance this month. The composer takes us behind the scenes…

For Golden Rhapsody, my musical starting point was Sir James Galway himself. Keenly aware that writing for him was an extremely rare privilege, I was determined to write music borne out of everything I love about him as an artist: a golden rhapsody for ‘the man with the golden flute’. In particular, I’ve aimed to capture the exquisite intimacy and lyricism of his playing, with a dash of dazzling virtuosity thrown into the mix too. It’s these qualities too that make the flute such an attractive instrument to write for; there’s its silky-sweet tone, of course, but also a really tangible connection to breath and a general vocality that gives the flute a uniquely human character.

I spent such a happy afternoon with Sir James, recording Golden Rhapsody for Classic FM at the RTÉ Studios in Dublin. I was struck not only by his warmth and wit but by his attention to detail and meticulous craftsmanship. Determined to find precisely the right sound for my piece, he tried the piece out multiple times on several of his famous golden flutes, and I was astonished at the array of different colours he found instantly. It was like experiencing my piece in ultra-HD technicolour for the first time.

I’m delighted that Daniel Shao and I will be performing it at the 1901 Arts Club this month. I’ve known Dan since we were both in the National Youth Orchestra together – he’s such a brilliant performer, gifted communicator, and the perfect person to take up this piece’s baton from its original dedicatee!


Alex Woolf Golden Rhapsody (Daniel Shao, flute, Joseph Havlat, piano, 1901 Arts Club, 7pm)




Jan Dismas Zelenka Dixit Dominus in A Minor UK prem (Newcastle upon Tyne Bach Choir, Newcastle Baroque, University of Newcastle: King’s Hall, 7.30pm)


Brad Mehldau New work UK prem (Ian Bostridge, tenor, Brad Mehldau, piano, Wigmore Hall, 7.30pm)


Michael Boyle New work (Cambridge University Sinfonia, West Road Concert Hall, 8pm)


Claudia Montero Vientos del Sur (Winds of the South): Concerto for Piano Accordion and Orchestra (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Ksenija Sidorova, accordion, Vasily Petrenko, conductor, Philharmonic Hall, 7.30pm)


Oscar Bianchi ORANGO UK prem (London Sinfonietta, Queen Elizabeth Hall, 4pm)

Brad Mehldau Piano Concerto UK prem (Brad Mehldau, piano, Clark Rundell, conductor, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm)

Jukka Tiensuu Hehkuu Ondřej Adámek New work UK prems (Wu Wei, sheng, Philharmonia Orchestra players, Jonathan Stockhammer, conductor, Queen Elizabeth Hall, 6pm)

Donna Mckevitt Amica Mea; Arvo Pärt And I heard a voice… UK prem (ORA Singers, Suzi Digby, LSO St Luke’s, London, 7.30pm)


Richard Ayres No.50 (The Garden) (Joshua Bloom, bass, London Sinfonietta, Queen Elizabeth Hall, 7.30pm)


Alex Woolf Golden Rhapsody (Daniel Shao, flute, Joseph Havlat, piano, 1901 Arts Club, 7pm)


Donghoon Shin Sheng Concerto (Wu Wei, Sheng, Julien Leroy, conductor, CBSO Centre, Birmingham, 7.30pm)


Donghoon Shin New work (London Symphony Orchestra, François-Xavier Roth, conductor, Barbican, 6pm)


Kate Soper Nadja UK prem (Albion Quartet, Birmingham Town Hall, 7.30pm)


Sally Beamish Divertimenti (Divertimenti Ensemble, Bournemouth University: Kimmeridge House, 3pm)

Mieczyslaw Weinberg The Golden Key, Suite no. 4 UK prem (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Gidon Kremer, violion, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, conductor, Birmingham Symphony Hall, 7pm)


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