Evelyn Glennie

About Evelyn Glennie

Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie aims to teach the world to listen. An international recording artist, Glennie has singlehandedly expanded the repertoire for percussion instruments associated with the orchestra. She’s the world's first full-time solo percussionist, commissioning over 200 pieces since 1985, the year the BBC broadcast the documentary A Will to Win, about the then-rising star. Born in 1965 in Aberdeen, Glennie was influenced by Scottish indigenous music and learned to play the piano as a child. Her hearing started to deteriorate when she was eight. Undeterred, she started playing in the percussion section of her school orchestra at 12, learning to feel the vibrations in her body. In 1982, she entered London’s Royal Academy of Music, where she met longtime percussion professor James Blades, a lasting influence. She made her BBC Proms debut in 1989, premiering John McLeod’s The Song of Dionysius. For Glennie, who usually performs barefoot, hearing is a specialized form of touch; true listening calls for an augmented sensory experience, not just passively letting sound reach your ears. The way her philosophy of sound translates in performance has been captured in more than 40 recordings, including the Grammy-winning Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion by Bartók (rec. 1988) and a riveting account of contemporary composer Joseph Schwantner’s Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra (rec. 1997).

Aberdeen, Scotland
July 19, 1965

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