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Augusta Read Thomas

General Info

Year: 2016
Duration: c. 5:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Nimbus
Cost: Score and Parts - $0.00   |   Score Only - $0.00



Player I: Marimba (Shared)
Player II: Marimba (Shared)
Player III: Marimba (Shared)
Player IV: Marimba (Shared)

Program Notes

Dedicated with admiration and gratitude to those who commissioned the work and to Third Coast Percussion qì is the circulating vital life energy that in Chinese philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things.

In traditional Chinese culture, qì or ch'i or ki in Korean culture and ki in Japanese culture is an active principle forming part of any living thing. qì literally translates as "breath", "air", and figuratively as "material energy", "life force", or "energy flow".

Concepts similar to qì can be found in many cultures: prana in Hinduism (and elsewhere in Indian culture), chi in the Igbo religion, pneuma in ancient Greece, mana in Hawaiian culture, lüng in Tibetan Buddhism, manitou in the culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, ruah in Jewish culture, and vital energy in Western philosophy.[1]

With four percussionists sharing two marimbas between them, Qì has Thomas in fun-and-games mode full-on as the music tears off at dizzying speed without pause through the work's five densely packed minutes. Thomas's underlying image here is the notion of four interlocking gears, the players having to mesh and dovetail with the absolute precision of well-oiled gears and cogs whirring away in a fine Swiss watch. The 4-way dialogue is as rapid-fire as it is incessant, and in due course one just knows that one of Thomas' favourite “stinger” endings is supposed to loom over the horizon. But when it comes, it blindsides the listener with the precision of a perfectly timed punchline!

Qi was co-commissioned by: John Bierbusse, Harve Ferrill in honor of Karla Scherer, Jane Heron, Matthew Meselson in honor of Jeanne Guillemin, Bruce Oltman in honor of Bonnie McGrath, Sidney Robinson, Bob Schmidt, John Schmidt, and Nick Yasillo in honor of Susan Yasillo; and is dedicated with admiration and gratitude to those who commissioned the work and to Third Coast Percussion. Qì was unveiled by the four members of Third Coast Percussion at Notre Dame University in Indiana on July 22nd 2017.[2]


Stuart Sillitoe, MusicWeb International
"Qi for four percussionists playing two marimbas is “enjoyable and vibrant. The Third Coast Percussion players also seem to be enjoying the piece as they give a performance full of life and zest."

Jeremy Glazier, La Tempestad
"Thomas’s own brand of techne, or craftsmanship, is sufficiently advanced—as is the performance of Third Coast Percussion, who are always spellbinding to watch live…Their recording of Qí brims with relentless energy."



Commercial Discography

Online Recordings

Recent Performances

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Works for Percussion by this Composer

Con Moto - Percussion Quartet
Qi - Percussion Quartet - Marimba Quartet (2 marimbas)
Resounding Earth - Percussion Quartet
Selene - Moon Chariot Rituals - Percussion Quartet, String Quartet
Sun Songs — Three Micro-Operas - Percussion Trio, Mezzo-Soprano Voice

Additional Resources