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Five Elements

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Yunfei Li

Yunfei Li

General Info

Year: 2021
Duration: c. 12:50
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Yunfei Li
Cost: Score and Parts - Available 2022


1. Metal - 2:14
2. Wood - 2:12
3. Water - 1:49
4. Fire - 1:48
5. Earth - 3:27


Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
Horn in F I-II


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Dating back to over 5,000 years ago, the I Ching tells readers the stories of nature’s patterns through time. If we take a moment to observe the connections between Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood, we can begin to understand the importance of those Five Elements. Within the Five Elements theory, one thing is clear: these five fundamental materials shape the universal framework of our world. Even more importantly, the Five Elements are in a constant state of motion and counterbalance. Earth captures Water, which extinguishes Fire; Fire moulds and manipulates Metal, which cuts through Wood. Naturally, Wood plants roots in Earth, and the cycle continues. These cycles can take many shapes: Wood can feed Fire, while Fire prepares the Earth. Earth cultivates Metal, and Metal holds Water which nourishes Wood. At times, when one or more elements grows stronger than the other, the cycle is tripped and the balance is lost. What does one do to regain it?

On the face of this Earth, climate change and pollution has increased the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as wildfires and floods. As someone who is both concerned about climate change, and well versed in the Five Elements theory, I can feel the tension and instability between humans and nature. This deeply inspired me as a composer: by way of pitch sets, pentatonic scales, the circle of fifths, and juxtaposed rhythms, Five Elements tells the story of humanity’s continuous balancing act.

- Program note by composer

Five Elements (2021) by Yunfei Li was commissioned by Steven D. Davis and Anya Pogorelova, and premiered by the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Wind Symphony. This commission was made possible by grant funding from the UMKC Women’s Council and the support of 41 consortium members across North America.

- Program note from score


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Manhattan School of Music (New York) Wind Ensemble (George Manahan, conductor) - 10 November 2022
  • Chamber Winds of the University of Minnesota Wind Band Conducting Workshop (Minneapolis) (Elliott Stewart, conductor) - 15 July 2022
  • Western Winds at Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo) (Scott Boerma, conductor) - 14 February 2022
  • University of Michigan (JoAnn Wieszczyk, conductor) - 22 January 2022
  • Millikin University Wind Ensemble (Corey Seapy, conductor) - 19 November 2021
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Wind Symphony (Anya Pogorelova, conductor) - 21 October 2021 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer