Classical Music Awards: Personality of the Year - Evelyn Glennie

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The Independent Culture
'WHAT you see', she explains disarmingly, 'is what you get.' Evelyn Glennie intends that the personality on stage, and the personality off the stage, are seen to be one and the same. It always looks that way, and that is one of the reasons for her popular success: it's all about the love of music, writes Robert Maycock.

But the devotion inspires not only the urge to share it but the dedicated study and practice. 'Percussion is not a circus act. You have to be very energetic, very supple, but you have to be that with any instrument. You have to be a musician first.'

She enjoys telling the story of the tabla player who said he needed one year to work on the left hand, one year on the right, one year on both together; then, he said, you forget you have hands. She has a cause to fight, too: the standing of percussion itself. 'It's no longer the effect family in an orchestra.'

Glennie herself, in a still short solo career - she was born in Aberdeen in 1965 - has taken up a repertoire of 200 concertos. Some of these she has been responsible for originating or premiering: most recently from Dominic Muldowney, composer of the Awards theme, and from James MacMillan whose Veni, Veni Emmanuel was a highlight of the 1992 BBC Henry Wood Proms; indeed for many of us, in the hall or watching on television, that performance, culminating in her triumphant ascent to the back of the orchestra to set off pealing tubular bells, was a musical highlight of the year. She commissions solo works, and has established an Evelyn Glennie Percussion Composition Award for British composers.

All this music, new and old, reaches the widest possible audience, far from the confines of specialists. As a model of personal achievement she has inspired many thousands with her determination, skill, spirit, and charm. As an artist she touches the hearts of millions. The award will have delighted them all.

(Photograph omitted)

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