Timeline of Evelyn’s Journey





July 1965


Born in Aberdeen

On 19 July 1965 Evelyn Elizabeth Ann Glennie was born to Isobel and Arthur Glennie in Aberdeen, Scotland. Evelyn was taken back to the family farm outside Methlick – a small village in the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside.

Image: Bryan Hutcheson (licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

July 1965


Born in Aberdeen


On 19 July 1965 Evelyn Elizabeth Ann Glennie was born to Isobel and Arthur Glennie in Aberdeen, Scotland. Evelyn was taken back to the family farm outside Methlick – a small village in the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside.

Image: Bryan Hutcheson (licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)





1960s & ’70s


Growing-up on the Farm

Evelyn grew-up in rural surroundings on the family farm, beginning her lifelong love of animals. She and her two brothers, Roger and Colin, had a modest and traditional upbringing (she still speaks Doric, the local dialect). Nobody suspected that the little girl running round with the chickens would become one of the world’s most renowned musicians. Yet, Evelyn showed creative flair from an early age. She took part in country dancing contests, won a national art competition at the age of 5 and was playing piano in old people’s homes at the age of 10.

Evelyn's Early Years

1960s & ’70s


Growing-up on the Farm


Evelyn grew-up in rural surroundings on the family farm, beginning her lifelong love of animals. She and her two brothers, Roger and Colin, had a modest and traditional upbringing (she still speaks Doric, the local dialect). Nobody suspected that the little girl running round with the chickens would become one of the world’s most renowned musicians. Yet, Evelyn showed creative flair from an early age. She took part in country dancing contests, won a national art competition at the age of 5 and was playing piano in old people’s homes at the age of 10.


Evelyn's Early Years




Sleeve Image: Ellon Academy - One

August 1977


Entering Ellon Academy

Evelyn’s Secondary School years would prove to be some of her most formative. It was at Ellon Academy that she met her first percussion teacher, Ron Forbes, who remains a lifelong friend. This was also when she discovered she was losing her hearing. Ron was quick to help Evelyn achieve her goal of becoming a percussionist. Together they worked on new ways of thinking about hearing and feeling instruments. Ever the determined woman, Evelyn took part in an 8-hour non-stop marathon of solo piano and percussion playing to raise money for a Phonic Ear for herself and her school.

Evelyn’s time at Ellon Academy included other important milestones. In 1979, she appeared on two publically available recordings for the first time, one with Cults Percussion Ensemble and one with fellow Ellon Academy musicians (pictured). At the age of 13 she composed A Little Prayer, a simple chorale for solo marimba, which has endured as one of her most popular and celebrated compositions.

Image: © Ellon Academy

August 1977


Entering Ellon Academy


Evelyn’s Secondary School years would prove to be some of her most formative. It was at Ellon Academy that she met her first percussion teacher, Ron Forbes, who remains a lifelong friend. This was also when she discovered she was losing her hearing. Ron was quick to help Evelyn achieve her goal of becoming a percussionist. Together they worked on new ways of thinking about hearing and feeling instruments. Ever the determined woman, Evelyn took part in an 8-hour non-stop marathon of solo piano and percussion playing to raise money for a Phonic Ear for herself and her school.

Evelyn’s time at Ellon Academy included other important milestones. In 1979, she appeared on two publically available recordings for the first time, one with Cults Percussion Ensemble and one with fellow Ellon Academy musicians (pictured). At the age of 13 she composed A Little Prayer, a simple chorale for solo marimba, which has endured as one of her most popular and celebrated compositions.

Image: © Ellon Academy






September 1982


Moved to London

Intensely focussed on pursuing a career as a solo percussionist, Evelyn left Scotland to continue her training in London. Initially unable to enter the Royal Academy of Music or the Royal College of Music, the Academy changed their mind about Evelyn’s deafness being a problem and offered her a second chance. Evelyn quickly proved to be a pioneering musician, developing relationships with performing groups around London and commissioning composers to write new repertoire for solo percussion. It was at the Royal Academy of Music that Evelyn met another highly influential teacher, the revered percussionist James Blades.

Image: MattJP (licence: CC BY 2.0)

September  1982


Moved to London


Intensely focussed on pursuing a career as a solo percussionist, Evelyn left Scotland to continue her training in London. Initially unable to enter the Royal Academy of Music or the Royal College of Music, the Academy changed their mind about Evelyn’s deafness being a problem and offered her a second chance. Evelyn quickly proved to be a pioneering musician, developing relationships with performing groups around London and commissioning composers to write new repertoire for solo percussion. It was at the Royal Academy of Music that Evelyn met another highly influential teacher, the revered percussionist James Blades.

Image: MattJP (licence: CC BY 2.0)





January 1985


First Television Appearance

Recorded the previous year amid a flurry of activity in her blossoming career (which included receiving a Shell/London Symphony Orchestra scholarship), the BBC broadcast a documentary about Evelyn’s incredible story entitled A Will to Win. Yorkshire Television followed quickly with their own documentary, Good Vibrations, marking an emerging trend of regular TV appearances, which continues to this day. One of Evelyn’s television highlights was her appearance on Sesame Street alongside Oscar the Grouch. She has been seen all over the world talking and performing on chat shows (including The Late Show with David Letterman) and featured in yet more biographical documentaries (including episodes of The South Bank Show and the BBC’s What Do Artists Do All Day?). Evelyn has also made musical and on-screen contributions to commercials and feature films, most notably Thomas Riedelsheimer’s award winning Touch the Sound in 2004.

Image: Susan E Adams (licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Nothin' on TV 4

January 1985


First Television Appearance


Recorded the previous year amid a flurry of activity in her blossoming career (which included receiving a Shell/London Symphony Orchestra scholarship), the BBC broadcast a documentary about Evelyn’s incredible story entitled A Will to Win. Yorkshire Television followed quickly with their own documentary, Good Vibrations, marking an emerging trend of regular TV appearances, which continues to this day. One of Evelyn’s television highlights was her appearance on Sesame Street alongside Oscar the Grouch. She has been seen all over the world talking and performing on chat shows (including The Late Show with David Letterman) and featured in yet more biographical documentaries (including episodes of The South Bank Show and the BBC’s What Do Artists Do All Day?). Evelyn has also made musical and on-screen contributions to commercials and feature films, most notably Thomas Riedelsheimer’s award winning Touch the Sound in 2004.

Image: Susan E Adams (licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Nothin' on TV 4




February 1989


Playing at the Rio Carnival

Percussion seems to be found in all human cultures throughout traceable history. Whether used for communication, ritual or celebration, percussion is an indispensable part of human life. Evelyn’s vast collection of instruments, which exceeds 2,000 pieces, includes examples from a great number of different cultures. Having the opportunity to learn about those instruments from the people who make them, play them and live with them is always exciting. In 1989 one such opportunity arose in spectacular fashion. Evelyn had the chance to delve into the vibrant Brazilian Carnival tradition, taking part in perhaps the most famous Carnival of them all, Rio de Janeiro’s.

Image: Christian Haugen (licence: CC BY 2.0)

February 1989


Playing at the Rio Carnival


Percussion seems to be found in all human cultures throughout traceable history. Whether used for communication, ritual or celebration, percussion is an indispensable part of human life. Evelyn’s vast collection of instruments, which exceeds 2,000 pieces, includes examples from a great number of different cultures. Having the opportunity to learn about those instruments from the people who make them, play them and live with them is always exciting. In 1989 one such opportunity arose in spectacular fashion. Evelyn had the chance to delve into the vibrant Brazilian Carnival tradition, taking part in perhaps the most famous Carnival of them all, Rio de Janeiro’s.

Image: Christian Haugen (licence: CC BY 2.0)





February 1989


First GRAMMY Award

Evelyn has received three GRAMMYs in her career so far. The first, awarded for a recording of Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, came in 1989. Just 23 at the time, Evelyn featured alongside revered names: Sir Georg Solti, Murray Perahia and David Corkhill, principal percussionist of the Philharmonia Orchestra when the recording was made. She would release her first solo album, Rhythm Song, later the same year.

Evelyn’s subsequent GRAMMYs were awarded for her recording of Corigliano’s percussion concerto The Conjurer (with the Albany Symphony Orchestra under David Alan Miller) and for Béla Fleck’s crossover album Perpetual Motion on which she featured as a guest artist.

Image: [A25] (licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

February 1989


First GRAMMY Award


Evelyn has received three GRAMMYs in her career so far. The first, awarded for a recording of Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, came in 1989. Just 23 at the time, Evelyn featured alongside revered names: Sir Georg Solti, Murray Perahia and David Corkhill, principal percussionist of the Philharmonia Orchestra when the recording was made. She would release her first solo album, Rhythm Song, later the same year.

Evelyn’s subsequent GRAMMYs were awarded for her recording of Corigliano’s percussion concerto The Conjurer (with the Albany Symphony Orchestra under David Alan Miller) and for Béla Fleck’s crossover album Perpetual Motion on which she featured as a guest artist.

Image: [A25] (licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)






July 1989


First Appearance at the BBC Proms

The annual BBC Proms season is the most significant festival in the UK’s classical music calendar, not to mention a cultural event. Evelyn made her Proms debut at Kensington Town Hall in 1989, a week after her 24th birthday. The programme featured the world première of John McLeod’s The Song of Dionysius, several Proms premières plus one of Evelyn’s own arrangements. She took to the stage alongside pianist Philip Smith, who has remained an important performing partner and collaborator throughout her career.

Evelyn has appeared at the Proms many times since, including at the famous last night of the festival at the Royal Albert Hall (pictured). In 1992 she gave the world première of James Macmillan’s Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, a piece which became the most performed concerto composed in the 1990s. It was also the first ever performance of a percussion concerto in the history of the Proms, lending the concert extra historical significance. Evelyn was invited to give a concert at the 2015 Proms season to celebrate her 50th birthday, where she appeared alongside Philip Smith once again.

Image: Paul Hudson (licence: CC BY 2.0)

July 1989


First Appearance at the BBC Proms


The annual BBC Proms season is the most significant festival in the UK’s classical music calendar, not to mention a cultural event. Evelyn made her Proms debut at Kensington Town Hall in 1989, a week after her 24th birthday. The programme featured the world première of John McLeod’s The Song of Dionysius, several Proms premières plus one of Evelyn’s own arrangements. She took to the stage alongside pianist Philip Smith, who has remained an important performing partner and collaborator throughout her career.

Evelyn has appeared at the Proms many times since, including at the famous last night of the festival at the Royal Albert Hall (pictured). In 1992 she gave the world première of James Macmillan’s Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, a piece which became the most performed concerto composed in the 1990s. It was also the first ever performance of a percussion concerto in the history of the Proms, lending the concert extra historical significance. Evelyn was invited to give a concert at the 2015 Proms season to celebrate her 50th birthday, where she appeared alongside Philip Smith once again.

Image: Paul Hudson (licence: CC BY 2.0)





May 1990


Autobiography Released

By her mid-20s, Evelyn’s career had covered such ground and her story captured so many imaginations that she was encouraged to write an autobiography. The book was well received, being reprinted in 1995 and translated for her large Japanese audience in 1993.

May 1990


Autobiography Released


By her mid-20s, Evelyn’s career had covered such ground and her story captured so many imaginations that she was encouraged to write an autobiography. The book was well received, being reprinted in 1995 and translated for her large Japanese audience in 1993.






Early 1990s


Before Turning 30

By the early 90s Evelyn had established her position as a global superstar. Not yet 30, she had proved to be a pioneering and enduring musician. However, Evelyn refused to become complacent. She continued to find new avenues to explore. In 1992 she undertook a special tour of the UK, flown between cities by helicopter, marking the launch of Classic FM, the UK’s only radio station devoted entirely to classical music. Evelyn had already visited several prisons in the late 80s and continued to do so in the 90s, giving recitals to inmates. In 1994 she wrote and performed the score for a series of ground-breaking interactive television commercials for Mazda. This would be Evelyn’s first of many media and film music projects.

Image: © Dominic Old

Early 1990s


Before Turning 30


By the early 90s Evelyn had established her position as a global superstar. Not yet 30, she had proved to be a pioneering and enduring musician. However, Evelyn refused to become complacent. She continued to find new avenues to explore. In 1992 she undertook a special tour of the UK, flown between cities by helicopter, marking the launch of Classic FM, the UK’s only radio station devoted entirely to classical music. Evelyn had already visited several prisons in the late 80s and continued to do so in the 90s, giving recitals to inmates. In 1994 she wrote and performed the score for a series of ground-breaking interactive television commercials for Mazda. This would be Evelyn’s first of many media and film music projects.

Image: © Dominic Old





November 1998


‘The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie’ Registered

Living-up to her Scottish heritage, Evelyn commissioned a new tartan called The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie, which was officially registered in 1998. The tartan has appeared on instruments and clothes made especially for Evelyn. Her Monster Practice Pad, shaped like the Loch Ness Monster, borrows its colour scheme from The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie, too!

November 1998


‘The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie’ Registered


Living-up to her Scottish heritage, Evelyn commissioned a new tartan called The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie, which was officially registered in 1998. The tartan has appeared on instruments and clothes made especially for Evelyn. Her Monster Practice Pad, shaped like the Loch Ness Monster, borrows its colour scheme from The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie, too!






October 1998


Charles Way Writes ‘Playing from the Heart’

Playwright Charles Way turned the incredible story of Evelyn’s early life into a stage drama aimed specifically at children’s theatre companies. Playing from the Heart was first produced by Polka Theatre in Wimbledon 1998, opening on 1 October and running until 14 November. Since then it has enjoyed productions elsewhere in the UK, Ireland, Germany and America.

Image: © Imagination Stage/Scott Schumann

October 1998


Charles Way Writes ‘Playing from the Heart’


Playwright Charles Way turned the incredible story of Evelyn’s early life into a stage drama aimed specifically at children’s theatre companies. Playing from the Heart was first produced by Polka Theatre in Wimbledon 1998, opening on 1 October and running until 14 November. Since then it has enjoyed productions elsewhere in the UK, Ireland, Germany and America.

Image: © Imagination Stage/Scott Schumann






Early 2000s


Height of Touring Schedule

As the twenty-first century dawned Evelyn’s touring schedule reached astronomical heights. Giving over 100 concerts a year, including lengthy tours of the United States, Europe and Asia, Evelyn not only proved it was possible to be a solo percussionist, but that there was public demand for her new, exciting repertoire. By the early 2000s new names in solo percussion were taking their place on the international stage. The world recognised that Evelyn was not just a ‘one off’ – this was a musical career path open to everybody.

Image: © James Wilson/Evelyn Glennie

Early 2000s


Height of Touring Schedule


As the twenty-first century dawned Evelyn’s touring schedule reached astronomical heights. Giving over 100 concerts a year, including lengthy tours of the United States, Europe and Asia, Evelyn not only proved it was possible to be a solo percussionist, but that there was public demand for her new, exciting repertoire. By the early 2000s new names in solo percussion were taking their place on the international stage. The world recognised that Evelyn was not just a ‘one off’ – this was a musical career path open to everybody.

Image: © James Wilson/Evelyn Glennie





January 2001


Motorcycle Licence Attained

Not content with her life on four wheels, her adventures in the air (including a flying lesson in 1986), or the adrenaline fuelled concerts she gives, Evelyn decided to take motorcycle lessons, receiving her licence at the beginning of 2001. She is the proud owner of a MV Augusta F4 motorbike.

January 2001


Motorcycle Licence Attained


Not content with her life on four wheels, her adventures in the air (including a flying lesson in 1986), or the adrenaline fuelled concerts she gives, Evelyn decided to take motorcycle lessons, receiving her licence at the beginning of 2001. She is the proud owner of a MV Augusta F4 motorbike.






May 2003


Campaigned for UK Music Education

Alongside Sir James Galway, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Kamen, Evelyn spearheaded a consortium aimed at improving music education in schools. In the early 2000s there was very little money available to support basic musical activities or a thorough music education. After a successful campaign, the government of the day made a £332 million investment in state music education.

Image: Marc Barker (licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

May 2003


Campaigned for UK Music Education


Alongside Sir James Galway, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Kamen, Evelyn spearheaded a consortium aimed at improving music education in schools. In the early 2000s there was very little money available to support basic musical activities or a thorough music education. After a successful campaign, the government of the day made a £332 million investment in state music education.

Image: Marc Barker (licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)






January 2007


Investiture of Damehood

Following her OBE in 1993, Evelyn was deeply touched (and a little surprised!) when she received a Damehood 14 years later. Evelyn was lucky enough to receive her honours from Queen Elizabeth II on both occasions. Ever the busy person, she had to fly in from the USA for her Damehood investiture, rushing from the airport to get to the ceremony. With barely enough time to register what had just happened, she was quickly whisked off to Italy!

Image: © Martin Keene/PA Wire

January 2007


Investiture of Damehood


Following her OBE in 1993, Evelyn was deeply touched (and a little surprised!) when she received a Damehood 14 years later. Evelyn was lucky enough to receive her honours from Queen Elizabeth II on both occasions. Ever the busy person, she had to fly in from the USA for her Damehood investiture, rushing from the airport to get to the ceremony. With barely enough time to register what had just happened, she was quickly whisked off to Italy!

Image: © Martin Keene/PA Wire





July 2009


First Jewellery Range Released

Evelyn has always been passionate about jewellery and decided to release her own designer range. She chose to work with Ortak, a company based in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. Evelyn feels a strong connection with the rugged, wild landscape of the Orkneys, not least because she has relatives living there. Ortak’s beautiful work with silver and their attention to detail made them the perfect choice. The Percussion range was released in 2009, followed by other ranges in subsequent years.

Image: © Rachel Blackwell

July 2009


First Jewellery Range Released


Evelyn has always been passionate about jewellery and decided to release her own designer range. She chose to work with Ortak, a company based in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. Evelyn feels a strong connection with the rugged, wild landscape of the Orkneys, not least because she has relatives living there. Ortak’s beautiful work with silver and their attention to detail made them the perfect choice. The Percussion range was released in 2009, followed by other ranges in subsequent years.

Image: © Rachel Blackwell






December 2010


Climbed Kilimanjaro

For many years Evelyn has been patron of AbleChildAfrica, who work tirelessly towards a world in which Africa’s disabled children are fully included as equal members of society and able to achieve their full potential. At the end of 2010 – along with her Business Adviser, Brenda, and a team from the charity itself – she travelled out to Tanzania on a fundraising adventure! The group made their way to Africa’s most famous summit and the world’s highest free standing mountain, Kilimanjaro. Evelyn and Brenda finally reached the peak, 5,895 metres above sea level, on 2 December.

December 2010


Climbed Kilimanjaro


For many years Evelyn has been patron of AbleChildAfrica, who work tirelessly towards a world in which Africa’s disabled children are fully included as equal members of society and able to achieve their full potential. At the end of 2010 – along with her Business Adviser, Brenda, and a team from the charity itself – she travelled out to Tanzania on a fundraising adventure! The group made their way to Africa’s most famous summit and the world’s highest free standing mountain, Kilimanjaro. Evelyn and Brenda finally reached the peak, 5,895 metres above sea level, on 2 December.






July 2012


Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games

In 2012 London played host to the Olympic Games for the third time, becoming the first city in the history of the modern games to do so. The 2012 games were notable for their radical opening ceremony – a cultural and historical kaleidoscope featuring thousands of participants and spectacular set pieces, all directed by Danny Boyle. Evelyn played two roles in the ceremony. In the early stages, as picturesque scenes of bygone pastoralism gave way to industrial revolution, she led the percussive drive of Underworld’s anthemic And I Will Kiss. Accompanied by the Pandemonium Drummers – 965 strong, comprised of musicians and non-musicians alike – Evelyn set the tone for a truly memorable ceremony. Later, as the Olympic Flame made its way into the stadium, she performed Caliban’s Dream on the aluphone, which was a newly created instrument at the time.

Image: © International Olympic Committee 

July 2012


Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games


In 2012 London played host to the Olympic Games for the third time, becoming the first city in the history of the modern games to do so. The 2012 games were notable for their radical opening ceremony – a cultural and historical kaleidoscope featuring thousands of participants and spectacular set pieces, all directed by Danny Boyle. Evelyn played two roles in the ceremony. In the early stages, as picturesque scenes of bygone pastoralism gave way to industrial revolution, she led the percussive drive of Underworld’s anthemic And I Will Kiss. Accompanied by the Pandemonium Drummers – 965 strong, comprised of musicians and non-musicians alike – Evelyn set the tone for a truly memorable ceremony. Later, as the Olympic Flame made its way into the stadium, she performed Caliban’s Dream on the aluphone, which was a newly created instrument at the time.

Image: © International Olympic Committee 





Summer 2015


Celebrations as Evelyn turns 50

2015 turned out to be a bigger year for Evelyn than first imagined. No more than a month either side of her 50th birthday, she stood in the limelight amid huge celebrations. In June she was awarded the prestigious Polar Music Prize, described by the Times as the Nobel Prize for musicians, receiving her award from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. In August she returned to the BBC Proms giving a portrait concert to celebrate her 50th year and decades of success as the world’s most famous solo percussionist.

Image: © Annika Berglund/Polar Music Prize

Summer 2015


Celebrations as Evelyn turns 50


2015 turned out to be a bigger year for Evelyn than first imagined. No more than a month either side of her 50th birthday, she stood in the limelight amid huge celebrations. In June she was awarded the prestigious Polar Music Prize, described by the Times as the Nobel Prize for musicians, receiving her award from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. In August she returned to the BBC Proms giving a portrait concert to celebrate her 50th year and decades of success as the world’s most famous solo percussionist.

Image: © Annika Berglund/Polar Music Prize