Scotland has produced two world-renowned percussionists, Evelyn Glennie and Colin Currie. Newer on the scene, Currie is a veteran, nevertheless, having drawn international notice from around the turn of the century. Besides standard orchestral percussion instruments, Currie plays marimba, vibraphone, bongo drums, glockenspiel, brake drum, waterphone, wood blocks, and others. Not surprisingly, Currie has performed much modern repertory, including works written specifically for him by Elliott Carter, Jennifer Higdon, Steven Mackey, Michael Torke, Michael Nyman, Thea Musgrave, Kalevi Aho, and others. But he also delves into more mainstream fare, including transcriptions by J.S. Bach and Ravel, and plays concertos by Milhaud and Jolivet. Currie has appeared with the major orchestras of Glasgow, London, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Dublin, Amsterdam, Lyon, Turku, Los Angeles, Dallas, and countless others. He regularly appears in recitals at major international concert venues and has collaborated with soprano Dawn Upshaw, the Labèque sisters, Through the Looking Glass Ensemble, the Peterson String Quartet, and his own ensemble, the Colin Currie Group. In addition, Currie serves as visiting professor at both London's Royal Academy of Music and The Hague's Royal Conservatory of Music. He has recorded for EMI, Naxos, Telarc, and other major labels.
Colin Currie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on September 25, 1976. He began piano studies at five and took drum lessons from age six. From 1990-1994 he studied percussion with Pamella Dow and piano with Sheila Desson at Glasgow's Royal Conservatory of Scotland.
Meanwhile, he won the gold medal at the 1992 Shell/London Symphony Orchestra Music Scholarship competition. Two years later, he became a finalist at the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, the first percussionist to do so. His final-round performance there of Errollyn Wallen's Concerto for Percussion was broadcast live over BBC television.
1998 was a pivotal year for Currie: he graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London, and his first recording, Striking a Balance — Contemporary Percussion Music, was issued by EMI. A collection of works by Chick Corea, Steve Reich, Ney Rosauro, and others, the album garnered international acclaim.
In 2001 Currie was given the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award for the year 2000. In 2002 he debuted in the U.S. and Japan, and in 2003 premiered Joe Duddell's percussion concerto Ruby at the BBC Proms with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop.
Currie was a BBC New Generation Artist from 2003-2005. He toured the U.S. in 2004 with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. In 2006 he founded the Colin Currie Group, a 12-member ensemble whose highly successful debut took place that year at a BBC Proms concert.
In 2007 Currie played the Higdon Percussion Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Alsop. This acclaimed live performance was issued on the LPO label in 2009 and became a 2010 Grammy winner for Best Contemporary Composition. Currie was appointed artist-in-residence at Southbank Centre, London, for the 2011-2012 season. Among Currie's more acclaimed recordings is his 2012 Ondine CD of Einojuhani Rautavaara's Concerto for Percussion, Incantations.