The Nagahara-Galway Collaboration
“If you can Imagine it, you can do it"
-Sir James Galway
A Glimpse Back to the First Meeting
The Nagahara-Galway collaboration began on the year of 2005 shortly after the first meeting between Kanichi Nagahara and Sir James Galway at the Vancouver Flute Festival. Sir James found the Nagahara booth, a fairly new company in the industry and decided to give it a try. Not knowing what his reaction would be, Kanichi Nagahara waited patiently while Sir James tried his flute #56, a 14k gold instrument with silver toneholes and mechanism (still at our shop to this day!). A crowd began to gather and soon came a question to the audience from Sir James who was comparing back-to-back his then current personal instrument vs. the Nagahara, asking the listeners "which one sounds best?". Mr. Nagahara quickly became worried of the situation, yet kept a cool and calm front letting the feeling of confidence over his work wash over him. The response was almost unanimous: the Nagahara flute had won the hearts of the audience who said with amazement that the sound was "fuller...richer...more versatile and expressive".
Shortly after, Sir James Galway ordered his very first all 14k gold flute (#501) which became his primary instrument from then on, and as they say, the rest is history. In Sir James' words:
"This flute was so very easy to play and I could see that a flute like this would give me the ease of playing
I had always looked for...Kanichi delivered it personally to me in New York. The number was 501 and from the
moment I got it I never played anything else. This was a flute with a great response, a bigger range of tone colors,
a really wonderful action and I fell in love with it straight away."
-From Sir James Galway's website blog: Nagahara 501
Since then, Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway have chosen to perform exclusively on their Nagahara flutes, owning various instruments in 14k, 18k, 20k gold and most recently Platinum.
A Masterful Collaboration
Before the Galway Model flute and headjoint was created, there were other early projects in which Sir James greatly inspired and advised Kanichi Nagahara from the stand point of a master flutist. The Galway Locking Crown was the first ever project collaboration between Nagahara and Galway. Additionally, he was the inspiration of the 20k gold signature alloy created in 2007.
Finally, after years of wanting to collaborate with a maker in creating a flute ideal to meet the high demands of the professional flutist, Sir James Galway approached Mr. Nagahara in 2008 about the idea to make a Galway Model Flute. Together they discussed the specification of this project and enhancements to be made to the current instrument. The Galway Model Flute was succesfully launched at the 2009 National Flute Association Convention in NYC. Because this instrument was developed with the inspiration of the already-know-as "Man with the Golden Flute", the Galway Model flute was only to be made in gold tubing option. At that time it was agreed to keep the Standard Model headjoint on the Galway model flute, as that was the headjoint style Sir James preferred most.
Two years later, Kanichi Nagahara decided it was time to develop a headjoint that would allow every flutist to have the same ease of playing and expression that was projected every time he heard Sir James Galway perform. With Sir James' approval, he observed greatly his and other flutist's style of playing to create the new headjoint model. This project led to the creation of not only a new embouchure cut but also a different lipplate design. After much experimentation and research, the Galway Model Headjoint was debuted for the first time at the 2011 Galway Japan Tour.
The latest creation to date that has surfaced in the midst of this long lasting and masterful collaboration is the new Platinum Galway model flute made in early 2015. Sir James had played a platinum flute of another make years before and remembered the great projection power it had. Mr. Nagahara has never been a fan of platinum as every flute he tried that was made of this very dense material seem to have a "one tone-color trick", was too heavy, stuffy and hard to express through. However, he accepted the challenge of making a platinum flute but with the idea to make a change for the better. He started with getting a much thinner tube than the standard platinum tube in the industry. Since the tubing manufacturer could not get the tube quite as thin as he wanted, Mr. Nagahara took it upon himself to meticulously sand down the tube’s OD by hand to get the right thickness desired for this special flute A lighter mechanism was also in mind for this instrument so he created a 9k Rose Gold alloy matching the same color as the 14k, 18k, 16k, and 20k gold alloys offered by Nagahara. The end result of this work was astonishing. Upon delivering the instrument to Sir James Galway at the 2015 Galway Masterclass in Weggis Switzerland, Sir James quickly disappeared from the room to go try this new masterpiece, and three hours later showed up at the opening Gala Concert of the Festival with the new Platinum flute! The audience, who was composed of long time colleagues, students and Galway concert goers all had the same reaction: What an Amazing Sound!!
Much lighter in weight that Sir James' 20k gold flute, this platinum flute holds the potential for greatness. Projection, expressiveness, color change, delicate nuance, beauty in tone, these are all things heard from this newly created masterpiece. The Galway Platinum Flute is the featured item of discussion at the 2015 Nagahara National Flute Association Convention Exhibitor Showcase and will be available at the convention for special viewing.
Going forward, the Galway-Nagahara bond continues to grow with much respect for each other's art sharing the interest to make improvements for the benefit of the flutist and a special friendship making all the work more fun than ever!