Academy students Zach Mitchell and Bonnie Scott performing with the City Lit Percussion Orchestra

To mark the occasion, Evelyn visited a workshop at City Lit, where she is also a Fellow. She collaborated with the Percussion Orchestra, performing and improvising alongside the participants and passing on her expert insights. Current Academy percussion student Zach Mitchell, who has worked with the CLPO for over a year, took part in this session along with Academy harpist Bonnie Scott and Adam Collins, a recent graduate and tuba player, who is a long-standing volunteer musician with the orchestra.

'To meet all the members of the Percussion Orchestra, witness their wonderful achievements, feed off their focus and dedication and to learn so much from the sheer sensitivity, commitment and expertise of tutor Alex Thomas and the three Royal Academy of Music musicians meant it was a day I will not forget.'

Evelyn Glennie

It’s wonderful that Evelyn has agreed to become the Patron of the City Lit Percussion Orchestra. Her extraordinary artistry, creativity and understanding of the relational aspects of music making bring such inspiration for everyone, orchestra members and visiting Academy students alike.

Julian West, Head of Open Academy

'I was in awe. Starting out with percussion at 14, Evelyn's pieces were some of the first I learnt, now here I am improvising beside her.'

Zach Mitchell, Academy student
Image of Dame Evelyn Glennie working with a member of the City Lit Percussion Orchestra

The session began with the group's regular social circle where they discussed the nature of the class and meanings of interpretation. Together they performed a rendition of Terry Riley's In C, a work that Evelyn had not played before. The students were then treated to a masterclass from Evelyn, where she stressed the importance of 'finding your own sound story.' She also led an introduction to new percussion techniques and tools, demonstrating unique instruments, some of which she had made herself. These included homemade superball mallets and a set of Korean metal chopsticks. The session ended with a group improvisation led by Evelyn and Zach, and solo improvisations from Bonnie and Adam on harp and tuba which gradually opened to the group and led to a jam with all participants, encouraged by Evelyn.

'Collaborating with the Royal Academy of Music has done so much for the Percussion Orchestra. The support, feedback, creativity, and patience that their students, fellows and generous volunteers provide on a weekly basis is truly remarkable and we are very excited to continue our musical journey with them.'

Alex Thomas, Project Leader of City Lit Percussion Orchestra

City Lit is a long-standing partner of Open Academy, the Academy’s community and participation department, which works with around 6,000 music makers, beyond our enrolled students and staff, each year. Through the work of this department, students can develop their musicianship, make connections with people from all walks of life and reflect upon the contribution they can make to society through their artistry.

Images © Frances Marshall