Back to basic buys -- Tower Records is James Galway's Big Apple pick for favorite classical music store

I have a pretty well stocked collection — easily over a thousand black vinyl records and six or seven hundred CDs. My favorite record store in the U.S. is the Tower Records up the street from Avery Fisher Hall, at Lincoln Center. It’s so convenient. After a rehearsal, you can bop over and get whatever you want. So whenever I’m playing in New York, which is about three or four times a year, I just dip in.

The thing that really attracts me to Tower is that the store is up front with the latest things. You see the newest CDs or cassettes from BMG Classics or CBS or whomever on display. It doesn’t seem to be dominated by one particular company, as some record stores are. Tower has a very comprehensive collection of what’s being recorded in the world today.

Also, the people are really helpful. There’s a salesman in the classical department who’s a tuba player and an absolute gold mine of information. His name is Richard Schneider. He knows when every record was made, when it was issued or reissued, where it was recorded, who plays on it — all that stuff. He even knows who plays second flute!

Usually when I go in, I have a specific record in mind. But sometimes I’ll run into Richard and he’s really enthusiastic about something, so I’ll pick it up. Last time I bought a whole schmear of early music on the Deutsche Harmonia Mundi label.

The people upstairs in the pop section are also really well informed. I recently bought a Duke Ellington CD collection there, and some Benny Goodman. And Phil Collins and Whitney Houston. She hasn’t made that many records, but the ones she has made have sold well. Of course, my kids (they’re 16 and 18) think she’s over-the-hill. They’re now into rap. (Based in Lucerne, Switzerland, Irish flutist James Galway enjoys an active international solo career in concerts and recordings. He has more than 35 recordings in the BMG/ RCA Victor Red Seal catalog.)

reporting by Susan A. Elliot