Galway Flute Festival: Reflections of Weggis Stephen Clark

When did you first meet Sir James?

I first met Sir James and Lady Jeanne when I was 16 years old at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in Scotland. They performed there as part of Sir James’ 60th birthday recital tour. I started to study with him seriously in 2014 when I was 29 years old. And haven’t stopped since.

How Sir James has inspired you?

Sir James has the absolute best practise ethics I’ve ever experienced. He is constantly thinking and trying to make things better. He takes no chances. He works until he gets it perfect every single time. No excuses. It’s inspiring and motivating.

What is it about his teaching that you love the most?

He really has more experience than anyone. He knows exactly how to get things good in a practical sense. And it’s incredibly apparent that when he is teaching he is not interested in being impressed. He just wants to help. He wants his students to improve and ultimately succeed. It’s the absolute best quality in a teacher.

What do you love most about Weggis?

It’s an incredibly beautiful location and there is great camaraderie among the students and staff of all nationalities, ages and playing abilities.

Which Sir James album is your favorite?

Music for My Friends. It was the album which made up the repertoire of the recital he performed the first time I saw him play live. And it was breathtaking. As is the album. It shows his complete command of both the flute and music making at the highest level.

How about favorite Sir James moment?

In 2017, I performed the Rising Star recital at the Galway Festival. It was an amazing experience. But pretty terrifying. Essentially you are playing to an audience made up of the highest standard of flute playing I’ve ever heard as well as all the people watching the live stream online. About 15 minutes before the concert started I was in the dressing room warming up and Sir James popped his head in and asked if I had seen Lady Jeanne anywhere? I hadn’t. So off he went. 20 seconds later the door opened again and he popped his head in once more, shook my hand and said “Stephen go knock em dead." It meant a great deal. I won’t forget it. I knew I had at least one audience member on my side already.

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