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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 December 2006, 00:43 GMT
Evelyn Glennie's good vibrations
Evelyn Glennie
Glennie has received more than 70 international awards
Evelyn Glennie, who has become a dame in the New Year Honours, is one of the world's most celebrated percussionists.

Born in Aberdeen on 19 July, 1965, she studied music from the age of 12, by which time she was profoundly deaf.

Undeterred, Glennie - who experiences music by absorbing vibrations - won a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London where she later became a fellow.

A gifted composer and performer, she has won two Grammy awards and was made an OBE in 1993.

She made her debut as a percussionist at the Wigmore Hall in 1986, and now performs up to 100 concerts a year, as well as giving masterclasses and motivational speeches.


Believed to be the first full-time solo percussionist in the West, Glennie has performed with nearly all of the world's major orchestras in front of several presidents and world leaders.

Evelyn Glennie
Glennie presented the Sound Bites series for the BBC
In concert, she plays up to 60 instruments including the gamelan, xylophone, marimba and timpani. Outside percussion, she is also adept on the great highland bagpipes.

Her personal collection includes 1,800 instruments, several of which Glennie designed herself, and she keeps percussion kits in six countries to facilitate her hectic touring schedule.

Outside the world of classical music, Glennie has achieved fame for her collaborations with pop and rock artists including Sting, Ray Davies and Bjork.

Her own compositions have also received acclaim, and she received a Bafta nomination for the soundtrack to the TV series Trial and Retribution in 1997.

She has also appeared as a presenter on two series of the BBC documentary programme Sound Bites.

Charity work

Glennie is reluctant to speak about her loss of hearing, and says she regards herself as a normal person.

"My hearing is out of the ordinary as others might see it, but not for me," she writes on her website.

"I'm used to my hearing in the same way that I'm used to the size of my hands."

On stage, the percussionist performs barefoot in order to feel vibrations from her instruments, and often stands at 90 degrees to the audience so they can see the drum skins vibrating.

She is the vice-president of Hearing Concern and Deafness Research UK, and president of The Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children, which provides musical therapy units to schools for the deaf and partially-hearing across the UK.

Glennie said she was surprised and delighted with her honour.

"I hope the seeds I have sown will be taken up by those who will follow me because the journey I have begun cannot be undertaken in isolation," she added.

"There is much I still aspire to achieve and as with all awards of recognition, this gives me the impetus to continue to try to make a difference on a global scale throughout my many fields of interest and activity."

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