Everything about percussionist Evelyn Glennie is beyond the boundaries of your average world-class artist. The first full-time solo percussionist in the world, she has commissioned nearly 130 new works, gives about 110 concerts each year, travels with approximately two tons of equipment, personally owns more than 1800 instruments, has co-authored several school music books and penned her autobiography, Good Vibrations, and is the recipient of two Grammy Awards. Glennie has also been profoundly deaf since age 11, and performs barefoot on stage, hearing the music through the vibrations of the floor.
"My career, like that of Beethoven's and a number of others, is an impossibility," she says. "There are only three possible explanations: I'm not a musician, I'm not deaf, or the understanding of "deaf" or "music" must be incorrect. In truth, I simply hear in a different way than most people."
Glennie comes to Great Performers on October 24 to perform the New York premiere of Bright Sheng's Colors of Crimson with the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra. The occasion marks the Orchestra's first North American tour, and the ensemble will be making its New York debut under the distinguished baton of Bramwell Tovey. Lincoln Center connections abound. Tovey regularly conducts the New York Philharmonic; Glennie made her New York recital debut on the Great Performers series in 1998; and Sheng's works are frequently heard here, most recently his Concertino for Clarinet and String Quartet at the Chamber Music Society in 2004, and his music theater piece, The Silver River, at Lincoln Center Festival 2002.
"Colors of Crimson was the perfect combination of people, timing, and opportunity," says Benedikt Fohr, General Manager of the Orchestra. "We wanted to commission a work especially for our first North American tour, and we wanted a different kind of soloist‹everyone has a violinist or a pianist. Evelyn immediately came to mind. She had frequently collaborated with Maestro Tovey as soloist with the Vancouver Symphony, where is he also Music Director. Bright Sheng had worked with Tovey as well, and all three artists were friends. Everything just came together as if it were meant to be."
The Orchestra's program also includes works by Berlioz and Elgar, as well as a Vivaldi concerto transcribed for vibraphone and strings that features Glennie.