Scottish percussion virtuoso Evelyn Glennie comes to Estonia ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Evelyn Glennie.
Evelyn Glennie. Source: Caroline Purday

Noted Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie has given two concerts in Estonia this week, with the third, with her trio HLK, taking place in Tartu Friday night. ERR's culture portal caught up with Glennie to talk about her work.

Glennie, a two-time grammy winner, has been involved with Estonian music in the part through Erkki-Sven Tüür's 4th symphony, "Magma", where she performed percussion.

This time, the concerts feature music by Richard Harrold, a member of HLK. "This musical language was new to me," she said, mentioning that she would be adding marimba and vibraphone into the mix.

"I'm also adding a variety of sound colors created by small tympanums, plates and bowls."

Glennie, from Aberdeenshire, played the piano as a young child, but from age eight, her hearing started to get weaker. By age 12, she had lost around 90 percent of her hearing ability, but did not allow that to halt her love of music and performing.

"I wasn't being defined by my deafness or anything like that," Glennie told ERR.

"For me it was a natural progression to try percussion, to try the profession and business of music, because ultimately that's what it is, and see how I go. So it's been a really interesting journey."

"I get the impact of sound and the resonance you can actually feel through your body, and it's a very different experience when you're the participator with sound than being the listener in the audience. That's two very different feelings and sensations and experiences, so it has to be very clear for me as a participator I'm already practicing the music, looking at the scores, deciding what I want to do. There's all sorts of things that go on before you actually produce the sound. Sound comes from your feet upwards – it's a very important security blanket, really."

"We'll all physically be able to feel it, but not necessarily in the same way. So I might strike this bar, and I might feel it a certain way, because I'm used to playing this instrument, and also I'd be holding the mallet producing the sound, so there's all sorts of things feeding through the stick – so I'd have one feeling, and you'd have another feeling."

While Glennie has performed with such notables as Mark Knopfler, Björk, and also at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony in London, a lot of her work is for the media, she says.

"Most of my writing is to a picture, so I write for media purposes, for TV, radio, films, so you normally have a story board already. It could be that I'm writing music for a wildlife program, or detective drama, or something like that. Immediately that's a very different skill from writing to a concert platform, so when you're writing for media, a lot of it is about atmosphere."

A multi-instrumentalist, Glennie not only plays a wide range of percussion instruments such as marimba and vibraphone, but also woodwind instruments, including the Highland Great Pipes of her native Scotland, where she even has a tartan named after her.

"Whatever piece of music is in front of me, is my favorite piece; whatever instrument is in front of me, that's my favorite instrument, no matter who you're collaborating with, those are your favorite collaborators, There's always something to learn and to push your boundaries I suppose."

Her website is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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