Workshops and Recording with Dame Evelyn Glennie

Thursday 6th December

The Audiovisability team attended Dame Evelyn Glennie’s studio in Cambridgeshire where Laurentia received music lessons with Evelyn. Evelyn showed Laurentia a range of instruments, and challenged her to describe sounds in different ways – for instance, was the sound thick or thin, cold or warm, big or small? Laurentia had never considered describing sound in this way before and initially found it quite a challenging task; however, finding ways of describing and interpreting sound enables it to be more easily applied and adapted to mood, emotions, and performance. Evelyn described how she uses the instrument as an extension of herself, much like Laurentia and Sherlock ‘become one’ when they perform together.

Laurentia and Evelyn found that there were many parallels in their work – for instance, Laurentia described how she treats her reins like a ‘telephone line’ to communicate with Sherlock through subtle movements, understanding the level of sensitivity for optimum responses. Similarly, Evelyn’s mallets are the most crucial tool to communicate with the instrument in front of her, bringing out the subtleties in sound and adding layers of expression to the performance.

Friday 7th December

Ruth asked Tom Hunt to replace the electronic piano part of his composition with an acoustic marimba part (to be played and recorded by Evelyn Glennie at her studio). The piano part was one of the main elements of the composition, with a clear structural outline, so it made sense to adapt this for marimba. Evelyn practiced and performed the music while listening to a track consisting of the other instrumental parts and a metronome click, which is why she can be seen wearing headphones during the recording.

This day gave Laurentia the chance to see what the music looked and sounded like. Evelyn’s expressive playing also portrayed many of the emotions in the music, which is described as positive and upbeat, with Afro/Latin-inspired elements. While Evelyn practiced and performed, Ruth guided Laurentia through the score, breaking each section down into colours to demonstrate where themes return. This gave Laurentia a much bigger picture of the whole score of how it all comes together and greater understanding of the World Equestrian Games music.