Works > Kamex ch’ab

Kamex ch’ab

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Written in:
Countertenor, Tenor Duet, Bass Voice & String Quartet
Commisioned by

Commissioned by Festival de Música Religiosa de Cuenca.


Premiered on 28th March 2010 at the Iglesia de San Miguel, Festival de Música Religiosa de Cuenca by the Hilliard Ensemble and Arditti Quartet.

Programme Note

The text of Kamech ch’ab is taken from El Ritual de los Bacabe, a compilation of spells and prayers used by the Mayan priests from the aristocracy, which dates back to the time when the first Europeans arrived in Mexico.

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For the creation of this work I chose to set fragments taken from the ‘birth of the stone’ ritual: U sihil tok, in which there are multiple references to the Bacabes, the Mayan Gods underlying the Mayan notion that the gods are human creation. There are also references to number four, which is relevant in Mayan mythology, and to the colours they relate to the four cardinal points: yellow, red, white and black. There is also a subtle reference to the human sacrifices that were done to please the gods to prevent droughts.