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James Galway: So, what's the mood music like in BBC Northern Ireland now?

By Colin O'Carroll

Published 06/06/2015

Sir James Galway at the BBC Music Day Event
Sir James Galway at the BBC Music Day Event

The Man with the Golden Flute did not have quite the same precious touch when it came to marketing last night's prime BBC musical event.

The mood music at the corporation changed key dramatically following Sir James' ponderings on politics and history.

While everyone is talking about his appearance at the BBC's first live televised concert from Belfast's Crumlin Road Gaol as part of the publicly-funded broadcaster's Music Day event, it is not for the same reasons that BBC chiefs probably would have hoped.

The world-renowned flautist will still be a big draw, but BBC bosses are no doubt regretting their decision to let him be interviewed live on the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster.

They would have expected he would big-up the event and make some of the usual comments about how much better things in Northern Ireland are these days, but instead it was like cymbals crashing as he launched into an attack on Ian Paisley, Britain and its empire and Presbyterians, despite himself being a Knight of the realm.

Sir James has got some form for speaking out when people least expect it, and he has made comments about nationality before, but they have usually been a bit more veiled.

He has previously spoken at concerts about his feelings on the Ireland issue and being Irish, but coming from a man who lives in Switzerland, they have mostly been taken with a pinch of salt, such is he revered in the music world.

To be fair, no one could have predicted he would drop such a clanger over what seemed such an innocuous question. But let us pity the poor producers - you could almost just see their fingers hovering impotently over the mute button.

One would think that those at the BBC who decided to let Sir James loose on live radio will be dancing to a slightly different tune the next time they invite the world's greatest flautist over as their star performer.

Belfast Telegraph

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