Dame Evelyn Glennie DBE
Dame Evelyn Glennie is the first person in history to create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist, performing worldwide with the greatest orchestras and artists. She grew up on a farm in the north-east of Scotland and was influenced by Scottish traditional music. Evelyn’s hearing declined from the age of 8 but she became a proficient pianist and later was introduced to percussion at the age of 12. She gained a place at The Royal Academy of Music in London at the age of 16 where she studied percussion and piano. She quickly realised there was a life for percussion outside the orchestra and became determined to define a new genre of solo percussion. Evelyn paved the way for orchestras globally to feature percussion concerti when she played the first percussion concerto in the history of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in 1992.
Evelyn has commissioned over 200 pieces from many of the world’s most eminent composers. “It’s important that I continue to commission and collaborate with a diverse range of composers whilst recognising the young talent coming through”. Evelyn composes music for film, television, theatre and music library companies and is a double GRAMMY winner and BAFTA nominee. She regularly provides masterclasses and consultations to inspire the next generation of musicians. “
Throughout her career, Evelyn has worked with diverse artists from the worlds of pop, jazz, folk, classical and contemporary music. Evelyn’s solo recordings currently exceed 40 CDs, are as diverse as her career on-stage. These range from original improvisations, collaborations, percussion concerti and ground-breaking modern solo percussion projects.
Leading 1000 drummers, Evelyn collaborated with director, Danny Boyle, in her prominent role in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games which featured a new instrument, the Glennie Concert Aluphone.
“Playing at an event like that was proof that music really affects all of us, connecting us in ways that the spoken word cannot”. In 2018, Evelyn built upon this inter-disciplinary experience by composing the score for Gregory Doran of The Royal Shakespeare Company’s visionary new production of Troilus and Cressida. The Evelyn Glennie Podcast was launched in 2020 featuring popular personalities from the worlds of music, television, sport and academia.
Evelyn was awarded an OBE in 1993 and has over 100 international awards to date, including the Polar Music Prize, the Léonie Sonning Music Prize and the Companion of Honour. She is President of Help Musicians, only the third person to hold the title since Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Since 2021 she has been Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Evelyn is the patron of several charities and regularly participates in events to raise money and awareness for diverse causes.
Evelyn curates The Evelyn Glennie Collection which includes in excess of 3,800 percussion instruments. “I realized as soon as my parents bought me my second pair of sticks that I was going to be a collector of something!” The collection also encompasses concert programmes, awards, photos, paintings, letters and scores spanning her remarkable career.
Continuing her life-long mission to Teach the World to Listen she founded The Evelyn Glennie Foundation in 2023, which aims to improve communication and social cohesion by encouraging everyone to discover new ways of listening in order to inspire, to create, to engage and to empower. “Listening is the backbone to every aspect of our lives. The challenges we face in business and at home can usually be overcome with better listening skills.” The film ‘Touch the Sound’ and her enlightening TED Talk remain key testimonies to her unique and innovative approach to sound-creation.
“My career and my life have been about listening in the deepest possible sense. Losing my hearing meant learning how to listen differently, to discover features of sound I hadn’t realized existed. Losing my hearing made me a better listener.”
Evelyn lives in the beautiful countryside of Cambridgeshire in the East of England.