Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie
Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie began her musical life with the piano and the clarinet and was heavily influenced by the indigenous musical traditions of north-east Scotland. She began to lose her hearing when she was 8 years old, and was profoundly deaf by age 12.
Her secondary school music teacher Ron Forbes helped her continue her training as a percussionist, teaching her to hear with parts of her body other than her ears. She learned that hearing is basically a specialized form of touch, in which the ear converts vibrations in the air to electronic signals interpreted by the brain. For example, she feels the upper drum from the waist up and the lower drum from waist down. Other sounds are felt in her skin, bones and muscles.
Evelyn was initially denied entry to the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music because of her deafness. However, the Academy changed their mind about Evelyn’s deafness being a disqualifier and eventually offered her a place, where she proved to be a pioneering musician.
She won her first Grammy award in 1988 for her recording of Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. In addition to her career as the world’s premiere solo percussionist, Evelyn is a sought-after public speaker and presenter. In 1993 she was appointed Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and was promoted to Dame Commander in 2007.
WXXI Classical promotes and supports inclusion for musicians of all abilities through programming and special events. WXXI’s Move to Include Initiative is made possible by a generous grant from the Golisano Foundation.
MUSIC: Alan Stout: Mexican Dance 2 - Evelyn Glennie, percussion, CD RCA 60242
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