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Glennie, Dame Evelyn (19th July 1965-Present)

She is a percussionist, composer and author born Evelyn Elizabeth Ann Glennie in Methlick, Aberdeenshire, Scotland who started losing her hearing when she was 8 years old until suffering profound deafness when she was 12 years old.  This did not deter her, however, from learning to play the piano and clarinet before moving onto percussion.  Her teacher assisted her in how to feel the music rather than hear it which is why she will often perform barefoot.

She was a student at Ellon Academy and toured, performed and recorded with the Cults Percussion Ensemble, formed in 1976, and also played with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. When she was 16 she went to study at London’s Royal Academy of Music.  In 1984 she won the Gold Medal in the Shell/London Symphony Orchestra Music Scholarship at a national percussion competition and in 1986 she took studies in Japan for a month.  She was also the winner of the James Blades Prize twice and was awarded the Queen’s Commendation Prize for all-around excellence both musically and academically.

Her career has seen her go on to perform with countless musicians and orchestras in over 40 countries and has led to her commissioning new solo percussion works. She also performs on the great Highland bagpipes and has also got her own “The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie” tartan.

In 1982 she was named “Scot of the Year”, later named “Scotswoman of the Decade” in 1990.  In 1989 she won the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance, published her autobiography Good Vibrations in 1990.  Also in 1990 she was a chosen guest on the TV series This Is Your Life  and in 1993 she was awarded an OBE.

In 1996 she was a featured artist in the duet “My Spine” performed with Bjork on her album Telegram and has worked with numerous other singers and groups on recordings.

In the new millennium she was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music as well as an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2002.  The 2004 film about her life in music Touch the Sound  was made in 2004.

She lobbied with Sir James Galway, Michael Kamen and Julian Lloyd Webber, with them forming the Music in Education Consortium for the UK government to put money into Music education, resulting in £332 million being provided in 2007.  She was made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the 2007 New Year Honours.  The following year she was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.

In 2012 she led a thousand drummers at London’s Olympic Games Opening Ceremony and performed Caliban’s Dream for the Olympic lighting of the cauldron, where she played on the Glennie Concert Aluphone.   She worked with the director and the electronic music group Underworld on the Opening Ceremony soundtrack.

Two years later in 2014 she won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrument Solo.  In 2017 she was appointed Order of the Companions of Honour in the 2017 New Year Honours list.

She was involved with composing music for a production of Troilus and Cressida with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the director Gregory Doran in 2018 and in 2020 she was involved in the composition of “The Grace of Silence” with the music charity Sound World which was recorded by the Bristol Ensemble and released for the Coronavirus Fund for Freelance Musicians.

In 2021 Robert Gordon University named her as its Chancellor.  By 2023 she has been award 20 honorary Doctorates and is an ambassador of the music charity Sistema Scotland.  She is the President of the charity Help Musicians and is a patron of the music charity Sound World and her many compositions are published by Faber Music and the library music company Audio Network.

Her recording output is huge with a selection including her own Mirage? Concertos for Percussion, Orange Red: Evelyn Glennie, Rhythm Song. Light in Darkness, Rebounds: Concertos for Percussion, Drumming, Street Songs, Shadow Behind the Iron Sun and Touch the Sound as well as John Corigliano: Conjurer; Vocalise with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Percussion Quartet by Backbeat, Telegram and The Iceland Mysteries by Bjork, Reflected in Brass with The Black Dyke Band, Cults Percussion Ensemble by Cults Percussion Ensemble, Perpetual Moon by Bela Fleck, Travelling Light by Leslie Garrett, Tuur: Magma with Paavo Jarvi, Cinematic Knopfler by Mark Knopfler, Bartok: Sonata for Two Pianos & Percussion; Brahms: Variations on a theme by Joseph Haydn for 2 Pianos Op. 56b with Murray Perahia and Georg Solti, Blast Live by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Out of the Silence: Orchestral Music by John McLeod with the Royal National Scottish Orchestra and Oriental Landscape with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

In the field of musical education she has held numerous master classes and performed concerts and clinics.  She has also been a teacher to several students.