Kalamus is the term for an ancient Greek double reed instrument. This is not a well known term today, but it led to the Latin calamus, which evolved to the Old French chalamel , then to the Middle French chalemie, then to the Middle English schalme, and finally to shawm. You’d think that after all that work, we’d keep the name, but instead we prefer “oboe” and “bassoon”, which followed different etymologies. At any rate, the title pays homage to the ancient roots of double reed instruments, and reflects the ancient roots of the musical styles suggested in the piece itself.
The work was commissioned by, and dedicated to, the wonderful performers David Weiss, Abe Weiss, and Alpha H. Walker, and given its first performance in Austin Texas, June 2005