Umoja The First Day of Kwanzaa
for woodwind quintet
by Valerie Coleman (b. 1970)- American composer
Umoja is the Swahili word for "unity" and is the first day in seven in the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa. The original composition calls for unity through the tradition of call and response and was first meant to be a simple family sing-along song for Kwanzaa. As it was added to the wind quintet repertoire of Imani Winds, it soon became a signature piece of the ensemble. The melody is mainly a French horn solo with supporting rhythms from the upper winds and a constant motor played by the bassoon. Even though the meter is in 3/4, the melody and percussive upper wind accompaniment is mostly phrased in 6/8 when there is syncopation. Most importantly, the entire feel should be in one. Alto saxophone may substitute if there is no French horn available.