Sir James Galway has been making heavenly music on his golden flute after playing a duet with an astronaut hundreds of miles away up in space.
He also revealed he has had a lifelong ambition to take off into outer space himself.
But he admitted: “At 71, I realise now it’s not likely to happen that I become an astronaut.”
So Sir James has done the next best thing.
With his feet firmly planted on terra firma, the knight of the earthly realm linked up with a flute-playing astronaut Cady Coleman, who resides currently some 200 miles up in orbit on the International Space Station, to play a duet.
The Nasa flight engineer was delighted at the result.
She and Sir James played a duet by prolific 17th century composer German composer Georg Philipp Telemann — despite never meeting once face to face.
After the duet she switched on her camera and took Sir James and his wife of 26 years Jeannie, who is also an international flautist, on a visual tour of the space platform.
“The piece Cady and I played together was simple and appropriate for a sky-high occasion,” recalls Sir James. “It went on for quite a few minutes with her fellow |astronauts on the Space Station listening.
“Others in training back on earth were quite impressed too.”
Sir James made his unique contribution to the American space programme from the Galveston Island base.
At the Nasa complex in Houston, Texas, he also met astronaut Chris Hatfield, who will be the captain on the space agency’s next mission.
Speaking in his native Belfast for a concert with the Ulster Orchestra, Sir James said: “I made the trip to Galveston specially.
“I was on an American tour on which I played with the world-|famous Emerson String Quartet, but performing with an astronaut was a whole new chapter in my |career.
“Cady told me that she takes her flute and a penny whistle into space with her to cheer up the crew during their rest periods.
“It was a great idea to perform this duet.
“I’ll never get my live music so high again.”
Now Sir James is about go all hi-tech, setting up the first online coaching programme for the flute.
It will go out around the world on the internet in several languages including Korean, Japanese and Chinese.
He and New York-born Lady Galway are working together |to set up their website this |summer.
“Budding flautists will be able to tune in and see film of instruction and be given pieces to learn, and on occasions be tutored by the man himself. “I will be available to give live lessons too,” explains the Man with the Golden Flute.
“Visitors to the website will also be able to buy memorabilia and flutes.”