"When you talk about percussion," says Alfonso Pollard, director of Le Quatre, Washington's only chamber percussion ensemble, "most people only think about marching bands, bass drums and cymbals. They don't know how melodic and harmonic percussion is." To illustrate the tonal capabilities of percussion, and in celebration of American Music Week, Le Quatre will perform four major contemporary percussion works by American composers today at 4 p.m. in Mount Vernon College's Florence Hollis Hand Chapel.

Pollard and his fellow Le Quatre members, percussionists Andre Whatley, Mark Rendon and Darryl Singleton and pianist Laura Fletcher, will use between 30 and 100 instruments during today's program, which includes Edward Jay Miller's "Basho Songs," a piece that features conventional western harmonies and haiku by the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. Le Quatre will be joined by soprano Rosa Lamoreaux and guest pianist/composer Jutta Eigen.

The celebration of American Music Week continues Tuesday at 8:15 in Post Hall at Mount Vernon College when pianist Carla Hubner performs a program of 20th-century music by American composers, including Mario Davidovsky's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Synchronisms No. 6 for Piano and Electronic Sounds (1970)" and the Washington premiere of Walter Ross' "Six Shades of Blue."

Hubner says "it's a pity that the gap between contemporary composers and the audience has become so large," and views her recital as "putting in my two-cents' worth . . . to communicate how wonderful contemporary music is."