Hearing Evelyn Glennie

Scottish virtuoso percussionist to perform with Calgary's Land's End Ensemble May 26


"The Shaman" is a percussion concerto written by Vincent Ho, PhD and award-winning composer.

It was his first collaboration with Dame Evelyn Glennie, a renowned Scottish percussionist set to join Calgary's own Land's End Ensemble to celebrate their 20th anniversary May 26 at the Bella Concert Hall through Ho's arrangement. First performed in Winnipeg, the piece received rave reviews as it travelled through concert halls in Toronto, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Singapore and New York's Carnegie Hall.

Glennie has become a muse to Ho. "Her fearlessness to explore unchartered territories combined with her inhuman musical abilities are what makes her an incredible force."

She earns high praise for her offstage accomplishments as well. "She's an incredible inspiration who brings out the best of every person she works with."

As Land's End's artistic director, Ho places a lot of trust in his fellow musicians. "We simply won't know how we will play as a group until the first day of our rehearsals."

Like any collaborating artists, they have to listen to each other. But when working with Glennie, this basic practice has a particular set of challenges.

Glennie became one of the world's top percussionists without the ability to hear.

Cellist Beth Root Sandvoss explains. "From my understanding, Evelyn approaches every sound with equal importance. While many musicians are trained to hear pitches and harmonies, she approaches all sounds with the same level of expressivity." Glennie's teachers helped her find ways to express herself by seeing every object she came across as a potential instrument for discovering new sounds.

Ho and Root Sandvoss, with their colleagues Susanne Ruberg-Gordon on piano and John Lowry on violin, make up the Land's End Ensemble. For the past two decades, they have been performing and debuting new music by Canadian and international composers and performing landmark chamber works of the 20th and 21st centuries.

How will they be approaching this collaboration? Ho explains, "(Glennie) tries to bring out the 'soul' of the work regardless of the sound it uses ― from an elegiac melody to polyrhythmic textures. She aims to bring out the musicality of every sound she creates as a means to transport us away from material existence."

In alignment with this 20th anniversary concert event, Land's End Ensemble will also be releasing a brand new CD. Among the new works they will be showcasing onstage they will feature compositions by Canadians like Omar Daniel, Derek Charke and Luna Pearl Woolf alongside those from the United Kingdom's James Keane and the legendary Arvo Part from Estonia.


"She's an incredible inspiration who brings out the best of every person she works with."

Vincent Ho, PhD


Root Sandvoss says that, "We'll be premiering works by many award-winning composers, many of whom will be travelling across the nation to attend this concert."

This pairing with Glennie will undoubtedly be among the most memorable creative experiences for the ensemble, with previous notable productions including the "Two Bit Oper-EH-shun", an oratorio on homelessness performed at One Yellow Rabbit's High Performance Rodeo in 2010, and 2014's Juno Awards Classical Showcase in Winnipeg, where they played Allan Gordon Bell's masterpiece "Field Notes" with clarinettist James Campbell. That piece, and its composer, later won the Juno Award for Classical Composition of the Year.

The ensemble works without a conductor most of the time, but has invited current resident conductor for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Karl Hirzer to take the podium for their 20 year celebration. This is a relationship likely fostered by violinist Lowry, who has been the CPO's associate concertmaster since 1987. Susanne Ruberg-Gordon, the ensemble's esteemed pianist, has been with the Mount Royal Conservatory for 25 years teaching chamber music and collaborating internationally with the acclaimed Morningside Music Bridge program. Finally, Beth Root Sandvoss has been teaching with The Conservatory for 18 years as a mentor to young cellists, instructing cello classes and chamber ensembles in the Academy Program. So, for an ensemble deeply rooted in The Conservatory culture, a performance at the Bella Concert Hall has a feeling of a "home ice advantage."

The Conservatory will undoubtedly roll out the red carpet for Glennie, who will be onsite at the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts rehearsing and visiting with students in the program. That magic of mentorship goes a long way in shaping the aspirations of young performers and further supports Ho's claim that she's a shaman. He claims, "She uses music and sound to take us into other realms."

The Bella Concert Hall will open its doors to the Land's End Ensemble and special guest Evelyn Glennie on May 26, 2017 for a performance that should be seen… and heard.

Use promo code MRUMAY for a 30% discount.

Please note we no longer offer rush-seating options to our concert season events. Please purchase tickets well in advance to secure your seats.

May 18, 2017 ― Jonathan Love


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