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Evelyn Glennie

Evelyn Glennie
Evelyn Glennie at Moers Festival 2004
Background information
Birth name Evelyn Elizabeth Ann Glennie
Born (1965-07-19) 19 July 1965 (age 55)
Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Occupation(s) Percussionist
Instruments Percussion

Dame Evelyn Elizabeth Ann Glennie,[1] DBE (born 19 July 1965) is a Scottish virtuoso percussionist. She is announced as one of the two laureates for the Polar Music Prize of 2015.

Early life

Glennie was born and raised in Aberdeenshire. Her father was Herbert Arthur Glennie, an accordionist in a Scottish country dance band, and the strong, indigenous musical traditions of north-east Scotland were important in the development of the young musician, whose first instruments were the mouth organ and the clarinet. Other major influences were Glenn Gould, Jacqueline du Pré and Trilok Gurtu. She studied at Ellon Academy and the Royal Academy of Music, and was also a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. She was a member of the Cults Percussion Ensemble, formed in 1976 by local musical educator Ron Forbes. They toured and recorded one album, which was re-released on Trunk Records in 2012.[2]


Glennie tours extensively in the northern hemisphere, spending up to four months each year in the United States, and performs with a wide variety of orchestras and contemporary musicians, giving over 100 concerts a year as well as master classes and "music in schools" performances; she frequently commissions percussion works from composers and performs them in her concert repertoire.

She also plays the Great Highland Bagpipes and has her own registered tartan known as "The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie".[3] Glennie is in the process of producing her own range of jewellery and works as a motivational speaker. Evelyn also played the Aluphone in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games 2012.


Glennie has been profoundly deaf since the age of 12, having started to lose her hearing from the age of 8.[4] This does not inhibit her ability to perform at an international level. She regularly plays barefoot during both live performances and studio recordings to feel the music better.[4]

Glennie contends that deafness is largely misunderstood by the public. She claims to have taught herself to hear with parts of her body other than her ears. In response to inaccurate reporting by the media,[clarification needed] Glennie published "Hearing Essay" in which she discusses her condition.[5]


Glennie was featured on Icelandic singer Björk's album Telegram, performing the duet "My Spine". She has collaborated with many other musicians including former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Bela Fleck, Bobby McFerrin, Fred Frith and The King's Singers.

On 21 November 2007, the UK government announced an infusion of £332 million for music education. This resulted from successful lobbying spearheaded by Glennie, Sir James Galway, Julian Lloyd Webber, and Michael Kamen, who also (in 2002–03) together formed the Music in Education Consortium.[6]

In 2012, she collaborated with Underworld on the soundtrack to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games and performed live in the stadium.

Personal life

In 1994, Glennie married composer, sound engineer and tuba player Greg Malcangi, with whom she collaborated on several musical projects. They divorced in 2003 following her widely publicised affair with orchestral conductor Leonard Slatkin.[7]


Glennie has won many awards, including:

  • Best Chamber Music Performance in the Grammy Awards of 1989
  • Scot of the Year 1982
  • Queen's Commendation prize for all round excellence 1985
  • Scotswoman of the Decade 1990
  • Best Studio and Live Percussionist from Rhythm Magazine 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003 & 2004
  • Walpole Medal of Excellence 2002
  • Musical America Instrumentalist of the Year 2003
  • Sabian Lifetime Achievement Award 2006
  • Percussive Arts Society: Hall of Fame – November 2008[1][8]

She has been awarded 15 honorary doctorates from universities in the United Kingdom, the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1993, and was promoted to Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the New Year's Honours of 2007.[9] She owns over 2000[10] percussion instruments from all over the world and is continually adding to her collection. She was also a VIP of the music industry.[clarification needed][citation needed] Glennie is an Ambassador of the Royal National Children's Foundation (formerly the Joint Educational Trust) which helps support vulnerable, disadvantaged young people at state and independent boarding schools throughout the UK.


  • Rhythm Song (1990)
  • Dancin'
  • Light in Darkness (1991) (RCA Victor 60557-2-RC), with Philip Smith, Steve Henderson, Gregory Knowles, Gary Kettel
  • Veni, veni Emmanuel (1993) (Catalyst 09026-61916-2. All pieces composed by James MacMillan. Scottish Chamber Orchestra.)
    • Veni, Veni, Emmanuel
      • Introit – Advent
      • Heartbeats
      • Dance – Hocket
      • Transition: Sequence I
      • Gaude, Gaude
      • Transition: Sequence II
      • Coda – Easter
    • After the Tryst
    • " others see us..."
      • Henry VIII (1491–1547)
      • John Wilmot (1647–1680)
      • John Churchill (1650–1722)
      • George Gordon (1788–1824) and William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
      • Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888–1965)
      • Dorothy Mary Hodgkin (b. 1910)
    • Three Dawn Rituals
      • Larghetto
      • Allegro moderato
      • Andante
    • Untold
  • Drumming ( 11–15 December 1994)
  • Wind In The Bamboo Grove (1995)
  • Shadow Behind the Iron Sun (1999)
  • Touch the Sound (soundtrack of the film; 2004)
  • The Sugar Factory (featuring Fred Frith; 2007)


  • Touch the Sound (2004). Directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer, featuring a collaboration with Fred Frith. The farm where she grew up burned down during the production of the film, but her brother, Roger (who is featured in the film), and the animals, were unhurt.[11]


  • Good Vibrations: My Autobiography[12]

Television appearances


  1. ^ a b Lauren Vogel Weiss (n.d.). "Percussive Arts Society: Hall of Fame: Evelyn Glennie". 
  2. ^ Trunk Records album page
  3. ^ "Tartan Details – The Scottish Register of Tartans". 
  4. ^ a b "PBS Interview". 14 June 1999. 
  5. ^ Glennie, Evelyn (1993). "Hearing Essay". Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 April 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Julian Lloyd Webber: We're heading down Venezuela way, at last. Telegraph. Retrieved on 22 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Profile: Leonard Slatkin: Last night of the maestro who hit a wrong note". London: The Times. 12 September 2004. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Percussive Arts Society to Induct Roy Burns and Dame Evelyn Glennie to the PAS Hall of Fame at Pasic 2008. Percussive Arts 1 May 2008
  9. ^ 2007 Rod and Zara top New Year Honours . BBC News (30 December 2006). Retrieved on 22 January 2012.
  10. ^ BBC 4 "What Do Artists Do All Day? - Evelyn Glennie" Oct 30, 2014
  11. ^ Pasles, Chris (9 September 2005). "To hear, one must truly listen". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  12. ^ Evelyn Glennie (3 May 1990). Good Vibrations: My Autobiography. Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-174305-2. 
  13. ^ Hide and Seek
  14. ^ BBC – CBeebies – Zingzillas – Musical fun on a tropical island
  15. ^ Sesame Street: Evelyn Glennie Plays the Drums. YouTube (20 February 2009). Retrieved on 22 January 2012.

External links

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