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Dame Evelyn Glennie

Interview

Percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, appearing in Time Unwrapped, discusses her approach to performance with Amanda Holloway.

Inspirational percussion soloist Dame Evelyn Glennie has been in the public eye for over 40 years, since her 1976 debut in an all-girl Scottish percussion band, the Cults Percussion Ensemble. Winner of awards from Grammys to the Polar Music Prize, she has had over 200 works written for her by composers from James MacMillan to John Corigliano. For Time Unwrapped she joins O/Modernt Quartet for a programme that promises to ‘explode, condense and stretch time’.

What’s your favourite instrument?

Whichever instrument is in front of me is my favourite. I don’t play one more than the other so they’re all my special ‘babies’.

How do you practise?

I have no routine as each day is so different. When on tour I grab any time I can whenever there is access to instruments or space. Percussion is more challenging than most other instruments because you cannot set them up in a hotel room or easily carry them. I try to play little but often rather than hours at a time.

What’s the weirdest object you’ve ever played?

Flower pots, wrenches, nails, radiator, lorry silencer, etc.!

What clothing and footwear do you wear for your best performance?

I often don’t wear shoes at all when performing. The times I do wear shoes are based on the height of the heel in relation to the instruments I’m playing. Comfort and ease of movement is paramount.

How important is the concept of time to a percussion player?

Time is important for all musicians, not only percussionists. Time changes according to the acoustics, piece of music, instruments, audience, mood of players – so many factors alter time naturally.

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