Khamsa

Instrumentation: Percussion Quintet

Perc 1: Snare drum, lo woodblock, hi cowbell, 20″ ride cymbal
Perc 2: 2 Tom-toms (med/hi),2 bongos, maracas, clave (hi)
Perc 3: BD, medium wind gong, 2 congas (lo, med), brake drum (med)
Perc 4: 2 Tom-toms (low/med), 2 bongos (lo/med), tambourine, clave (low)
Perc 5: Snare drum, cowbell (lo), woodblock (hi), 18″ ride cymbal

Duration: 6:30

Commission
UVA Percussion Ensemble

Premiere
4/11/15, UVA Percussion Ensemble
Old Cabell Auditorium
Charlottesville, VA

Program Note

The title, Khamsa, which means ‘five’ in Arabic, refers to an ancient palm-shaped amulet that has been used as a sign of protection against the ‘evil eye.’ It has meaning in all three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, though it predated all of them. During this current time of turmoil in the Mideast and Africa, I chose this title, and designed a structure based on the five digits, as a way of expressing hope for better times ahead, for protection for all people against intolerance based on religious creed and ethnicity. Each of the five members of the quintet represents the fingers of the open palm. The music is intensely dramatic, with powerful gestures to ward off evil. Khamsa was commissioned by the UVA Percussion Ensemble and its director I-Jen Fang on the occasion of their tenth anniversary and is dedicated to them.