Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Renowned percussionist Evelyn Glennie teaches master class at DU

Evelyn Glennie is perhaps the busiest musician in the world. 

She gives more than 100 performances a year worldwide, stars in BBC television programs, designs jewelry, gives motivational talks, lobbies for more motorcycle parking — and still finds time to mentor the next generation of musicians. 

Percussion students at the Lamont School of Music will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with Glennie when she presents a master class and lecture Jan. 27, 1 p.m.–2:30 p.m. in room 130 at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts.

Glennie, a Scottish native, is the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist. Over the course of her career, she has performed with conductors, orchestras and artists worldwide. Glennie has collaborated with a diverse pool of artists, including Bela Fleck, Bjork, Bobby McFerrin, Emmanuel Ax, Sting, Kings Singers, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Fred Frith. 

She has released 22 albums and has won two Grammies. In 1993, she was awarded the Officer of the British Empire for her services to music and has received approximately 80 international awards.

Glennie was the subject of Touch the Sound, a 2004 documentary by Thomas Riedelsheimer. The documentary captured Glennie drumming in the New York’s Grand Central Station, on the roof of a skyscraper, in the Guggenheim Museum’s lobby and against a trash can on a Santa Cruz beach. 

Deaf since the age of 12, Glennie performs barefoot so she can feel more connected to sound and vibrations. She can distinguish notes’ rough pitch by associating where on her body she feels the sound. Glennie is reluctant to speak about her loss of hearing. 

“It is only journalists and other media forces who tend to concentrate on the hearing issue,” Glennie wrote on her Web site.

Glennie will be in Denver for a performance with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra on Jan. 28. 

“She is a world class artist and has broken ground for percussion soloists worldwide,” says John Kinzie, principal percussionist for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and chair of Lamont’s percussion department. “This provided a good opportunity to have her come to the school and work with our students.”

Students will perform a prepared piece for Glennie, who will offer tips for improving their performances. 

The public is welcome to observe the free sessions, but only Lamont students may perform. The music school encourages Denver-area music enthusiasts, teachers and students to attend.

“Anytime you see someone of this caliber talking or performing, the audience is bound to understand some insight from the artist,” says Kinzie. “Ms. Glennie has achieved such a high level of performance through hard work and talent, her energy will be infectious.”

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