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. Not surprisingly, he has performed much modern repertory, including works written specifically for him, but he also delves into more mainstream fare. Currie has appeared with major orchestras from around the world and regularly appears in recitals at major international concert venues. He has collaborated with soprano Dawn Upshaw, the Labèque sisters, the Through the Looking Glass Ensemble, the Peterson String Quartet, and his ensembles, the Colin Currie Group and Colin Currie Quartet. In addition, Currie serves as a 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.
Currie was born in Edinburgh, 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. 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, 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. Currie's repertory includes standard works such as transcriptions of J.S. Bach and Ravel and concertos by Milhaud and Jolivet. More impressively, he has been the dedicatee of many new compositions by major contemporary composers, including Elliott Carter, Jennifer Higdon, Steven Mackey, Michael Torke, Michael Nyman, Thea Musgrave, Kalevi Aho, and others.
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, touring the U.S. in 2004 with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. In 2006, he founded the Colin Currie Group, a 12-member ensemble dedicated to performing the music of Reich; the group's highly successful debut took place that year at a BBC Proms concert. To offer a range of more varied music for percussion quartet, Currie founded the Colin Currie Quartet in 2018.
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, in 2011, and, in 2014, the Southbank Centre organized the Metal, Wood, Skin Festival, which was dedicated to Currie and featured the premieres of several new works for percussion. Among his more acclaimed recordings is his 2012 Ondine release of Einojuhani Rautavaara's Concerto for Percussion, Incantations. He created the Colin Currie Records label in 2018, issuing a recording of Reich's Drumming and the album Scene of the Crime that year. In 2020, Currie was featured on a BIS album of music by Aho.