I had the great pleasure tonight of seeing Evelyn Glennie perform with the Austin Symphony, at the Bass Concert Hall. If you've never heard of Evelyn, she is the subject of a documentary film, Touching the Sound. She is a world class percussionist and quite adept at a number of Tuned percussion instruments including the Vibraphone. What is absolutely amazing, is that she has been deaf since childhood.
Evelyn performed two pieces
- Schwantner's Percussion Concerto - An interesting piece with 3 movements. Evenlyn had a large array of instruments both in the front (Vibraphone, Timpanis, Gongs, Triangles and a Large Bass Drum) and the back (Marimba, Toms and Bass Drum) of the stage. It had a very 20th century feel and ostinatos clearly borrowed from or influenced by Javanese/Balinese Gamelan music. There were at least 6 or 7 other percussionists on stage playing Bass Drum, Tubular Bells, Xylophone, playing with her for the first movement. The last 2 movements were filled with extensive soloing and did not disappoint.
- Evelyn's arrangement of Vivaldi's Piccolo Concerto - Played with a smaller string ensemble, harpsichord and Evelyn playing Vibraphone. This was absolutely incredible to watch. It was performed flawlessly at a very fast tempo, with considerable variation in the dynamics.
She performs barefoot, which I assume provides some additional tactile feedback for her. I also spent considerable time trying to comprehend how she manages to play so impeccably, given her challenges.
Bottom line: If you have the chance to watch the film or better yet, see her live. Do it. If I didn't already have tickets to go see Robben Ford tomorrow night, I might be tempted to go catch tomorrow night's show, as well.