You might think it's the Three Tenors. Or maybe Yo-Yo Ma, or even Leonard Bernstein. But the most televised classical music artist in history is none of the above. It's Sir James Galway...

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You might think it’s the Three Tenors. Or maybe Yo-Yo Ma, or even Leonard Bernstein.

But the most televised classical music artist in history is none of the above. It’s Sir James Galway, the jolly Irish flutist who has been the toast of the airwaves for his 50 years on the stage.

Sir Jimmy’s latest televised performance starts at 8 p.m. tomorrow, when his recital, “Galway at the Penthouse,” will be broadcast on “Live From Lincoln Center” on KCTS/Channel 9 in Seattle, and on PBS stations nationwide. He’ll be joined by the Grammy-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, as well as his flutist wife, Lady Jeanne Galway, and pianist Phillip Moll. The recital is set in an intimate salon ambience, in Lincoln Center’s Kaplan Penthouse.

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The show will be rebroadcast on Channel 9 at 1 a.m. Sunday.

On the program: works of Bach, Saint-Saëns and Vaughan Williams. We’d love to tell you more about the show — but it’s a live broadcast, so no one’s been able to do an advance screening. One thing you can count on: it won’t be a bore. Don’t be surprised if Galway, an irrepressible raconteur who loves his audiences, grabs the microphone for some off-the-cuff remarks.

At 65, he recently told The Seattle Times, “I’m playing better than I ever played — and better than anyone else, either.” Astonishingly, Galway is right. His recital this past March in Benaroya Hall took the listener’s breath away with the sheer quality and exuberance of his playing and the brilliance of his technique.

Galway’s distinctive, lush flute sound has been heard on the more than 30 million copies of his classical and crossover albums sold worldwide, and most recently on the soundtrack of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” His newest solo release, “Wings of Song” (Deutsche Grammophon) has enjoyed a long run at the top of the classical charts.

On TV



“Live From Lincoln Center: Galway at the Penthouse”
will air at 8 p.m. tomorrow on KCTS/Channel 9.


The Belfast-born flutist is a veteran of eight performances on “Live From Lincoln Center,” a series currently in its 28th season. He’s a teacher and a humanitarian who works hard on the nonprofit organization Flutewise (donating instruments to low-income students and young people with disabilities). For details, check out his Web site, www.superflute.com.

But Galway is just the tip of the classical-music iceberg this season on KCTS/Channel 9. Here’s what awaits you on New Year’s Day and beyond:


Washington National Opera: “Die Fledermaus”

12-2:30 p.m. Saturday, repeats Monday, 1-3:30 a.m.

The frothy and tuneful Johann Strauss Jr. operetta is a lighthearted story of love in the upper classes — and the lower ones, too — in 1890s Vienna. This comedy, sung in English, centers on the flirtatious and well-born Rosalinde; her would-be lover, Alfred; her erring husband; a masquerade ball; and hidden identities. The fine cast includes June Anderson as Rosalinde; Wolfgang Brendel as Rosalinde’s husband, Gabriel von Eisenstein; Hoo-Ryoung Hwang as Rosalinde’s servant, Adele; Elena Obraztsova in the “pants role” of Prince Orlofsky; Jesús Garcia as Rosalinde’s suitor, Alfred; and Peter Edelmann as Eisenstein’s friend Dr. Falke.

There’s an extra player in this cast: The ball scene features a cameo appearance by famed tenor Plácido Domingo (one of the Three Tenors; he’s also director of the Washington National Opera). Heinz Fricke conducts the Washington National Opera Orchestra. Staging is by Lotfi Mansouri, the former longtime general director of San Francisco Opera. It’s all good fun.


Great Performances: “From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2005”

8-9:30 p.m. Saturday, (repeats 3-4:30 a.m. Jan. 4)

New Year’s Eve is a huge deal in Vienna every year, with major revels at the Vienna Philharmonic. Now you can be in the audience, so to speak, when noted conductor Lorin Maazel leads the Vienna musicians live in “From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2005.” Program host Walter Cronkite celebrates his 21st season leading viewers through lots of extracurricular amusements, including beautiful Viennese palaces and other landmarks — while the familiar Strauss waltzes and polkas play in the background.

Among the program’s highlights: “Tales From the Vienna Woods” (as the cameras move to the actual woodland locale); “The Blue Danube Waltz,” danced by the Vienna State Opera Ballet at the Belvedere Palace; and the “One Heart, One Mind” polka, with the American Ballet Theatre’s Vladimir Malakhov leading members of the Opera Ballet at the Coburg Palace in his own choreography.


Great Performances: Keeping Score: MTT on Music: “

The Making of a Performance — Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony,” 3-4 p.m. Jan. 9, (repeats 3-4 p.m. Jan. 14). This is a documentary about the creation of a symphonic performance, with the San Francisco Symphony and its music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, at the center of this behind-the-scenes show. Tilson Thomas’ tremendous enthusiasm is evident throughout the program; he’s an articulate and impassioned advocate for music in general and Tchaikovsky in particular. We see this charismatic maestro behind the wheel of his Volvo, at the piano in his study, conferring with the concertmaster before rehearsals. Culminating the show, in the following hour, is the performance of the Tchaikovsky Fourth in Davies Hall, home of the San Francisco Symphony. That performance airs from 4 to 5 p.m. Jan. 9, repeating Jan. 14 at 4 a.m.


Great Performances: “Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ in Concert,”

9-11 p.m. Jan. 13, (repeats 2-4 a.m. Jan. 17 ). The late, great Leonard Bernstein isn’t around to conduct his own operetta “Candide,” but his protégée Marin Alsop is — and she leads a stirring performance of this sparkling score at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.

Starring in “Candide,” with its brilliant overture and such arias as “Glitter and Be Gay,” are Broadway’s Kristin Chenoweth and Patti Lupone, and opera’s Paul Groves and Sir Thomas Allen, achieving a real synthesis of musical theater and operatic traditions. Lonny Price directs Bernstein’s 20th-century take on the Voltaire 1759 classic.

Melinda Bargreen: mbargreen@seattletimes.com