Sean O’Boyle Partners with Percussion Master Dame Evelyn Glennie
By Alyssa D’Ippolito ’15
Australian composer Sean O’Boyle – Moravian College’s own artist-lecturer in composition – has partnered with a percussion master, Dame Evelyn Glennie, to compose a 25-minute Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra for the Tacoma Symphony. The piece, entitled “Portraits of Immortal Love,” will be performed by the symphony, under the direction of Maestra Sarah Ioannides, in October 2014 in Washington state.
Pulling his inspiration from the world as it was a century ago, O’Boyle’s vision of the piece is to show the desperate hope of lovers, whether it be a mother’s, father’s, wife’s or husband’s, during a time when the only means of communication was the written word. He wants to bring to life the love stories that have only grown with time.
“I want to show the great power and aching beauty percussion can bring to our emotional state,” said O’Boyle.
O’Boyle has already sketched the structure and several of the main themes in order to complete the piece by the end of May. Many of the percussion instruments that Glennie will play have also been selected after careful consideration from both O’Boyle and Glennie. The chosen percussion instruments range from traditional orchestral instruments, such as Bass Drum and Marimba, to more exotic sounds, such as Singing Bowls and a Waterphone.
Dame Evelyn is technically brilliant, a consummate artist, and one who has embraced all challenges that life has brought her.”
– Sean O'Boyle
O’Boyle was delighted to be given the chance to work with Glennie, who truly deserves the title of percussion master and has a remarkable story of personal perseverance.
Profoundly deaf since she was a teenager, Glennie began losing her hearing at the age of 8. However, her loss of hearing does not inhibit her ability to perform at an international level. (Glennie regularly plays barefoot during both live performances and studio recordings in order to feel the music better.)
Awarded Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2007, Glennie is the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist. As one of the most eclectic and innovative musicians in the classical world, she is constantly redefining the goals and expectations of percussion by creating performances of such vitality they almost constitute a new type of performance.
Most recently, Glennie won her third Grammy for best classical instrument solo at the 2014 awards.
“Dame Evelyn is one of the most inspiring musicians of our generation,” O’Boyle said.
She is technically brilliant, a consummate artist, and one who has embraced all challenges that life has brought her.”
When asked if he was excited to work on a piece for Glennie, O’Boyle replied with an inquiry of his own. “How excited would you be to win a gold medal at the Olympics?” he asked.
The Tacoma News Tribune also highlighted Glennie and O’Boyle’s collaboration earlier this year. Click here to read more.
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