Interview with Evelyn Glennie: We each have our inner orchestra and there is the orchestra of everyday living: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz percussianist, vibraphonist Evelyn Glennie. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Evelyn Glennie: – I grew up on our family farm approximately 25 miles north-west of Aberdeen. Looking back on my childhood I realise that being born into a farming family brought responsibility, helping the family as part of a team. From a very young age I helped to wean the young lambs and take care of those whose mothers had rejected them. Chores were the order of the day for my two brothers and I which we shared and in the main enjoyed. Like my father and brothers I attended Cairnorrie School, a tiny school in the middle of the country side about 1.5 miles from the farm I grew up in.

Because both my parents had some sort of musical background, music was always a big part of my life. My mother played the piano at home and although she was not an organist she played hymns on the organ at the local village church. I would sit on the hard wooden pew and absorb the church paintings as she played. I was lucky to have been brought up in a time when our family get-togethers was spent singing songs, dancing, telling stories or even reciting poetry in Doric.

We actually enjoyed power cuts in the winter time because they added further excitement to our creative processes when the lights went out and we just had candles to see by. I continue to enjoy engagement with audiences for the same reason today.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the percussion?

EG: – Throughout my education I consider myself very fortunate in that my schools offered free music education to every child. I began to play piano at the age of 8 followed by clarinet at 10 and then I focussed my time on percussion from 12, after seeing the school orchestra playing. I was so impressed that I immediately knew I wanted to be part of it.

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today?

EG: – I never get tired of praising my primary and secondary school teachers for encouraging me to pursue my musical career – in particular my peripatetic percussion teacher, Mr Ron Forbes and my general class music teacher My Hamish Park. I first learned to recognize high and low sounds by placing my hands on the inside wall of the music room while the teacher played timpani. Some of the pitches made my fingers tingle, while others were felt all the way down to my wrists and other parts of my body. With the help of Ron Forbes, I realized my body acted like a resonating chamber.

One day Ron Forbes sent me home with a snare drum, but no stand and no sticks. I started tapping it and pinching it and scraping it, and the next week he asked how I’d got on. I said I didn’t know. He said: “Now create the sound of a storm. Now create the sound of a whisper.” Suddenly I had this picture I had to put into sound. This opened up my world. It was the best lesson I ever had. After that it was just constant exploration.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

EG: – It’s always evolving, I would never want my sound to stand still and it could never do that anyway, due to all the different instruments and acoustics I deal with on a daily basis.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

EG: – Listening. Everything begins and ends with listening. I can’t say I have a routine, I base my exercises on the repertoire I’m learning/performing at the time. I don’t play an exercise in isolation as an exercise but always as a musical experience.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

EG: – I don’t have a preference as I have the philosophy of whatever harmony or instrument is in front of me is my favourite. The music I play is so diverse that it would be close to impossible to pick and choose: fromcontemporary free-jazz improvisation to more structured written out contemporary jazz, to music written by today’s composers, to creating soundscapes, ragtime, baroque, and so on.

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

EG: – The best advice that I can ever give anyone is to not give up. Even when it seems impossible to carry on. You are the best tool you will ever have, make the best of it. Invest in your education, practice like your life depends on it – because it does. And always keep an eye out for opportunities. Do not rely or expect anything to happen from others – create your own path and be part in as much as you can.

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

EG: – I’m not sure I understand this question. Jazz is very much a business in my mind and jazz musicians are as respected as musicians from so many diverse approaches to music-making. Some of our greatest musicians, past and present, have been jazz musicians.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

EG: – Jazz doesn’t only consist of the standards. There can be different approaches for young people and one is to explore their instruments and play them in unorthodox ways or taking a phrase from a standard but making it a completely different experience as regards to exploring one’s instrument. It’s about keeping an open mind and the will to explore new interpretations.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

EG: – We each have our inner orchestra and there is the orchestra of everyday living. It’s harmonizing the two that is the aim which boils down to listening inwardly and outwardly.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

EG: – I prefer not to focus my attention onfeelings such as fear or anxiety,I prefer a more positive approach to life in general. To me the future is always bright and that mind-set has always helped me – everything is possible.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

EG: – For the last few years I’ve been working in putting together a Centre that will bring together my legacy and beliefs, a place to offer people access to experiences and alternative perspectives concerning the nature of listening. A Centre that will create a venue for events, which will be provided by a range of experts, and a space for the public to engage with sensorial learning experiences.

I want this Centre to deliver the best possible environment for people to deconstruct the act of listening in order to understand what it really involves. We all need to realise why listening amounts to more than hearing.

While I work towards bringing this Centre to live, I’ll carry on embracing a series of projects and collaborations. These next few months a series of new recordings will be released, the result of collaborations with several different people and musical genres: Dreamachine; The Core-Tet Project, where each improvised concert is a new and spontaneous work of art much like the organ duels of the baroque period and the great cadenzas of the romantic composer/performers [in collaboration with Jon Hemmersam, Szilard Mezei and Michael Jefry Stevens; Time Standard, with jazz Trio HLK which will be followed by a series of live performances throughout 2018. And, of course, the usual flow of performances all over the World: I’m wrapping up 2017 with concerts in Lithuania, Russia and the UK [with the premiere of ‘Echoes From the Birdcage’, the result of my yearlong residency as the first King’s Cross Musician in residence]after having just been in Germany and Spain.

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

EG: – Yes, we are all dealing with the same musical ingredientssuch as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, texture, sound colour and so on, but it’s how we put them together and place those ingredients that can make the difference. It’s interesting to think that improvisation was a basic skill for composers and performers from the Baroque period all the way through to experimental music. Of course we take it for granted that all jazz musicians develop the art of improvisation.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

EG: – I’m not a big listener of music because I don’t like to overload myself with sound. Sound is my profession so whoever I meet or see during those times can often create wonderful collaborative surprises.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Evelyn Glennie

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