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Evelyn Glennie

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

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 1
  • Career 2
  • Deafness 3
  • Collaborations 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Recognition 6
  • Albums 7
  • Films 8
  • Autobiography 9
  • Television appearances 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Early life

Glennie was born and raised in 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 performed at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in London 2012, leading a thousand drummers in the opening piece of music, and then playing the Aluphone during the ceremony for lighting the Olympic cauldron.


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 what she described as mostly inaccurate reporting by the media, 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]
  • Polar Music Prize 2015

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. 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)
  • Music: The Sound Of Hope (2012): contributed to a DVD and CD project in aid of The Clarence Adoo Foundation


  • 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

  • ZingZillas (2010). Appeared in episode 19 ("Hide and Seek") playing tubular bells on the BBC channel CBeebies.[13] and in episode 50 ("Where's the Bug?") playing the waterphone.[14]
  • Sesame Street (2001). Appeared playing percussion with Oscar The Grouch's Grouchkateer Trash Band.[15]
  • 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony (27 July 2012), leading a 1,000-drummer ensemble performing And I Will Kiss in the Pandemonium segment.

See also


  1. ^ a b Lauren Vogel Weiss. "Percussive Arts Society: Hall of Fame: Evelyn Glennie". Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  2. ^ "Cults Percussion Ensemble". Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  3. ^ "Tartan Details – The Scottish Register of Tartans". 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  4. ^ a b "PBS Interview". 14 June 1999. Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  5. ^ Glennie, Evelyn (1993). "Hearing Essay". Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 April 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Culture, Arts and Entertainment". Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  7. ^ "Profile: Leonard Slatkin: Last night of the maestro who hit a wrong note". London:  
  8. ^ " News". Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  9. ^ "UK | Rod and Zara top New Year Honours". 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  10. ^ "BBC Two – What Do Artists Do All Day?, Evelyn Glennie". 2014-10-30. Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  11. ^ Pasles, Chris (9 September 2005). "To hear, one must truly listen".  
  12. ^ Evelyn Glennie (3 May 1990). Good Vibrations: My Autobiography. Hutchinson.  
  13. ^ "BBC – CBeebies Programmes – ZingZillas, Series 1, Hide and Seek". Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  14. ^ "ZingZillas – CBeebies". Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  15. ^ "Sesame Street: Evelyn Glennie Plays the Drums". 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2015-06-10. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Evelyn Glennie at TED
    • "How to truly listen" (TED2003)
  • Evelyn Glennie interview by Bruce Duffie
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