Dame Evelyn Glennie becomes Cued Speech UK’s new patron
Cued Speech UK is delighted to welcome Dame Evelyn Glennie, as patron to our charity.
Dame Evelyn Glennie is known as the first person to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist. Evelyn performs internationally, with the finest orchestras, conductors and artists of our times. She reflects on having played the first percussion concerto in the history of The Proms at the Albert Hall in 1992: ‘Playing at an event like that was proof that music really affects all of us, connecting us in ways that the spoken word cannot.’ This paved the way for orchestras around the world to feature percussion concerti.
“My first experience with percussion was inspired by my school orchestra at the age of 12. I knew I needed something else to go alongside my piano playing, which was my main instrument at the time. It was an inexplicable feeling but as soon as I saw the percussion section I knew this was the family I belonged to”.
‘I still remember the smell of the tiny annexe room where my first ‘trial’ percussion lesson took place. I also remember the ecstatic feeling of holding a pair of drum sticks and striking a snare drum for the first time.’
Evelyn had the honour of playing a leading role in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games in collaboration with director, Danny Boyle. In 2018, Evelyn built upon this inter-disciplinary experience by composing the score for Gregory Doran/The Royal Shakespeare Company’s visionary new production of Troilus and Cressida and joined forces with Jazz Trio ‘HLK’ among a roll-call of other superb sound and performance artists.
Throughout her career, Evelyn has had the privilege of working with diverse artists, from Bjork to Fred Frith:
‘‘Working with Bjork allowed me to break away from the written page and fall into a completely different arena, audience-wise. Giving totally improvised performances with Fred Frith is always an exhilarating experience. In this situation, we are asking the audience to listen in a completely different way.’
Evelyn’s solo recordings, which now exceed 30 CDs releases, are as diverse as her career on-stage. Shadow Behind the Iron Sun, Sound Spirits and The Core-tet Project continues to be the bestselling albums that demonstrate her virtuosic improvisational skills. Evelyn recalls: ‘the freedom I had in choosing whichever instruments I wanted – playing what I wanted and how I wanted – was the most liberating experience I have ever had in a studio.’
Evelyn is a leading commissioner of over 200 new works for solo percussion from many of the world’s most eminent composers. ‘It’s important that I continue to commission and collaborate with diverse composers whilst recognising the young talent coming through’. A double GRAMMY award-winner and BAFTA nominee, Evelyn is in demand as a composer and is commissioned to write music for film, television and library companies such as Audio Network. The film ‘Touch the Sound’ and her enlightening TED speech remain key testimonies to her approach to sound-creation.
As a keen collector of percussion instruments, Evelyn has gathered a private collection of global instruments, consisting of over 2,000 items. “I realized as soon as my parents bought me my second pair of sticks that I was going to be a collector of something!”
Evelyn was awarded an OBE in 1993 and now has over 100 international awards to date, including the Polar Music Prize and the Companion of Honour. Evelyn continues to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life. Her masterclasses and consultations are designed to guide the next generation. ‘Listening is the backbone to every aspect of our lives. The challenges we face in business and at home can usually be overcome with better listening skills.’
Evelyn is currently embarking on the formation of The Evelyn Glennie Collection. The vision is to open a centre that embodies her mission to Teach the World to Listen. She aims to ‘improve communication and social cohesion by encouraging everyone to discover new ways of listening as proven in her book ‘Listen World!’. We want to inspire, to create, to engage and to empower’.
‘My career and my life have been about listening in the deepest possible sense. Losing my hearing meant learning how to listen differently, to discover features of sound I hadn’t realized existed. Losing my hearing made me a better listener.’
Evelyn lives in the beautiful countryside of Cambridgeshire in the East of England.
You can learn more about Evelyn’s work on her website: www.evelyn.co.uk
Cued Speech makes spoken language visible for deaf babies, children or adults. To find out more, visit our website: www.cuedspeech.co.uk. Why not learn to use Cued Speech yourself – We’d love to see what you’re saying!