Evelyn Glennie and Emanuel AX

Percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who’s been deaf since childhood and performs by feeling her instruments’ vibrations, plays drums, vibraphone, marimba, cymbals, gamelan–you name it. She’s done chamber events, soloed with orchestras, even collaborated with Icelandic pop diva Bjork. Onstage she’s a marvel of precision and drama and childlike glee. She claims to be the first–maybe the only–full-time solo percussionist, performing more than 100 concerts per year. She’s had more than 90 works written for her, and some of her recordings have been nominated for a Grammy. If she has a flaw, it’s her penchant for pumping up the volume and acting like a delirious rock drummer. But why complain? At this joint recital with pianist Emanuel Ax, Glennie gets a judiciously understated collaborator and a new work by British composer Harrison Birtwistle that’s been tailored to both musicians–The Axe Manual, an intricate work that plays with the musical ideas of ostinato and toccata and extends the piano’s sonic palette with other percussion instruments. One surefire hit on the program is Keiko Abe’s Prism, a rearrangement of a rhapsody for marimba and orchestra. Also on the program are Debussy’s Images, Nebojsa Zivkovic’s Quasi Una Sonata for percussion and piano, and Zivkovic’s The Castle of the Mad King, which calls for Japanese drums. Thursday, March 22, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114.

Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Inns.