Ku-Ka-Ilimoku was completed in 1978 on commission from the Syracuse Symphony Percussion Ensemble. The composer has written:
"In Hawaiian mythology, Ku is perhaps the most fundamental and important of gods, occupying a place similar to that of Zeus in Greek mythology or Odin in Norse legend. Ku is manifested in several forms: as Ku-Ka-Ilimoku he represents the god of war. Thus this work for percussion ensemble is best viewed as a savage, propulsive war dance."
Hawaiian chants are often based on as few as two pitches, and Hawaiian percussion emphasizes short, repetitive patterns. Underlying this surface simplicity is a wealth of subtle rhythmic inflection and variation. Rouse incorporates this diversity to great effect, creating a tightly knit, exhilarating work. Although indigenous instruments are not employed, the timbre of their voices is evoked. The dynamic power of the Western instruments adds an intense level of ferocity to the proceedings."
© 1978 by Christopher Rouse
These program notes can be reproduced free of charge with the following credit:
Reprinted by kind permission of Christopher Rouse