Friday 30 September 2011

Who is Dame Evelyn Glennie?

From Wordle-images
I counted myself lucky to still get a ticket to see Dame Evelyn Glennie, the world renowned musician, give a motivational speech at the joint Business Club / Inspired Group event last night. I was not disappointed as she riveted us in a marimba accompanied journey. All this in support of three charities, East Anglia Childrens Hospices, Scotsdales Charitable Foundation and Able Child Africa.

Full Photo Album by 361 Photography here 
Of course, when she began with a dramatic piece on the marimba, it matched with my preconceptions of Dame Evelyn Glennie, Percussionist. But then she explained how and why she played the piece the way she did and we began to understand that she was something more …

When Evelyn receives a composition as sheet music, she listens to her inner feelings and emotions, looks to the audience and venue and then gives her intensely personal interpretation. Sharing with us how the music could be played by rote and then comparing it with her interpretation was a dramatic illustration as the difference was so great once heard. We were also introduced to an important part of what Evelyn saw fundamental to her approach to life, being a …

“Of course!” You might say, “She's a musician!” But Evelyn meant more than that. It was taking time to listen to her inner self, to listen to others and listen to the wider environment. Then she would digest and work through the information to come up with a plan of action. Musically, this could be finding out about a score, the venue and audience, and creating a vision of that performance, one that would be radically different between a venue such as cathedral and the Albert Hall. From a career perspective, it was noticing as a young woman the scarcity of percussion scores and the perception at the time of what was expected of a percussionist. Her solution was radical and yet simple, showing another facet to Evelyn Glennie …

Evelyn wrote several hundred letters to composers (in the days before e-mail and push button mailing lists!), asking for percussion compositions. This was well before she was a recognised artist. Yet some did respond and as time went on, international compositions also arrived, expanding her experience and repertoire. She created her own opportunities. Of course this took time! So inbetween, Evelyn added another string to her bow as a …

Motivational Speaker?
It began with visiting schools and helping ignite the musical sparks in the young. As her career as a musician grew, Evelyn also expanded her motivational skills to encompass all walks of life, all ages. She is now equally renowned internationally for her motivational talks as her musical ability. As a member of the Hunts Speakers (part of Toastmasters International) I was impressed not only with her incredible lack of “ums” and “ers” but also with the fantastic vocal variety, passion and enthusiasm with which she talked.

But who/what IS Dame Evelyn Glennie?
Why the question marks for her different facets above? They are boxes. The undercurrent of both Evelyn's talk and the passionate presentation was; Whatever simple description for her or set of facets that you apply; They are merely pigeon-holes.

Dame Evelyn Glennie is herself, and she is constantly changing.

For me personally, the message at the end of the evening was: Be yourself; Seek out new challenges; Do your best.

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