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Meet the Students: Hamza Able

Hamza Able is a member of the 2020 incoming class.

Hamza AbleHamza Able, from Jacksonville, Fla. and Casablanca, Morocco, entered Curtis in 2020. A timpanist and percussionist, he studies with Don Liuzzi, Eric Millstein, and Robert van Sice. Hamza recently graduated from the Manhattan School of Music and serves as extra percussion with the Jacksonville Symphony, his hometown orchestra. Here, Hamza shares some of the ways he has adapted his musical and physical practice during the pandemic.



What has been your most important musical experience until now?

When I was a freshman in high school I went to see my first-ever orchestra concert in my hometown, by the Jacksonville Symphony. The orchestra was performing Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, and after the dramatic ending, I knew playing with an orchestra was the only thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Hear the Curtis Symphony Orchestra perform “Un Bal” from Symphonie fantastique


What are you looking forward to most about attending Curtis?

Playing with the orchestra has to be at the top of the list, as many of the faculty members have told me that the Curtis orchestra is one of the best groups in the world, even in comparison to professional groups. That really excites me!


Where will you be learning during the fall semester?

I just moved to Philadelphia at the beginning of August. Since I am a percussionist, instrument access is a must, so Curtis has given me options for daily practice time. This will make for a very strange fall semester, but with plenty of time to focus on my craft. 


Are there any hobbies you’ve been able to focus on recently?

One of my passions is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. During this pandemic, practicing isn't possible since I need another partner to roll with. So I decided to take up another discipline of martial arts in Muay Thai, which gave me a little more freedom to practice technique and still keep in good cardio shape.


How have you adapted to performance during the pandemic?

In April I participated in a performance with the Manhattan School of Music Percussion Ensemble, which took place over Zoom and was live-streamed to the public. We featured many time- and improvisation-based works, primarily using objects found at home to create unfamiliar and creative sounds.