Friday February 23, 2018 10:27 pm

First Lady of Percussion


Grammy Award-winning virtuoso percussion soloist, Dame Evelyn Glennie, one of today’s most eclectic and innovative musicians, made her highly-anticipated return to UCLA Live for the first time in ten years with a diverse recital that included J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music” and works by contemporary composers from France, Germany, Iceland, Spain, The Netherlands and U.S.

In a concert that began at 8 pm on Thursday, Dec. 6 at UCLA Live at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, Glennie performed with an assortment of traditional and unconventional instruments. The “profoundly deaf” musician, performing solo and barefoot as usual on only a fraction of her 1800 instruments, proved yet again that she is the ultimate master of innovation. She made percussion instruments out of the most unlikely objects, e.g., flower pots to convey fragility in Frederic Rzewski’s “To the Earth”, wood blocks, and yes, the human body – reciting apropos verses as she coaxed the most interesting musical sounds out of them with sticks or bare hands.

Devoting most of the concert to more traditional instruments, e.g., maracas to create complex polyrhythms in Javier Alvarez’s “Temazcal” (Burning Water), snare drum in Askell Masson’s “Prim” and marimbas in Matthias Schmitt’s “Sechs Miniaturen” and Leigh Howard Stevens’ “Rhythmic Caprice,” she produced a dazzling universe of sounds that mesmerized the audience and reaffirmed her stature as the FIRST LADY of SOLO PERCUSSION.



Frederic Rzewski To the Earth

Nebojsa Zivkovic Fluctus

Matthias Schmitt Sechs Miniaturen

Javier Alvarez Temazcal

Jacob Ter Veldhuis Barracuda Solo


J.S. Bach Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV565
arranged by Evelyn Glennie

Vinko Globokar – Corporel

Steve Reich – Clapping Music

Leigh Howard Stevens – Rhythmic Caprice

Askell Masson Prim


Scotland-born GLENNIE, the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist, to date is still the only profoundly deaf musician on the international concert stage. She has complemented her best-selling autobiography, “Good Vibrations” (published in 1991) and her now-famous “Hearing Essay” (to explain her condition and how she is able to overcome it as a musician) by collaborating with Fred Frith and renowned director Thomas Riedelsheimer on a 2004 film about her life and career entitled “Touch the Sound.”

Known as a groundbreaker in the classical music world, Glennie is also a gifted composer. As a performer she is constantly redefining the goals and expectations of percussion, single-handedly expanding her repertoire that now includes 147 new works for solo percussion commissioned eminent contemporary composers.

Glennie gives more than 100 performances a year worldwide, and has appeared with nearly all of the major orchestras and with conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Charles Dutoit, Leonard Slatkin and Esa-Pekka Salonen. She has also worked with classical artists such as Emmanuel Ax as well as pop singers such as Sting, Björk, Bela Fleck, and Bobby McFerrin, and other percussion groups such as the Kodo drum ensemble. Glennie is well-known for her TV appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman” and “Sesame Street.”

After 20 years in the music industry, Glennie has begun teaching privately, which allows her to explore the world of sound therapy as a means of communication. She has developed the EG Images photographic library and created EG Jewelry, which features designs based on her influences as a solo percussionist.

Since she became a FanFaire-featured artist several years ago, EVELYN GLENNIE has received in addition to her two Grammy Awards and approximately 80 international honors the coveted titles of distinction “Officer of the British Empire” and subsequently “Dame Commander of the British Empire” – which confers literal truth to the pronouncement that when it comes to percussion, “There is nothing like a DAME!”

Source: UCLA Live

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