Walking in Beauty

Walking in Beauty

A concert-ritual
Healing according to Navajo myths and medicine and ancient Dalmatian exorcism
Creation 2018



At a time when scientific and technological progress is revolutionizing our world and our consumerist society, we seem to be losing touch with it.

The new score by Thierry Pécou, Changing Woman, cantata of the Four Mountains for two contraltos and ensemble, is inspired by his encounter with the culture and spirituality of the Navajo Indians. Their fascinating healing ceremonies have the function of restoring the Hózhó, a word that is difficult to translate: it signifies harmony, balance and beauty. For the Navajos, health has many facets: physical, mental, spiritual and social, because the individual must be cured as well as the entire community, to find a state in which "one feels that everything is in its place".

Six centuries earlier, Glagolitic clerics of the Dalmatian islands, a kind of half-shamans, half-priests, wrote down a curious mixture of pagan and Christian lore: prayers, exorcisms, formulas of magic and traditional medicine, descriptions of amulets, maledictions for chasing bad spirits or diseases, bad weather and the possessed. Their notebooks full of clumsy drawings are the basis of a new creation by Katarina Livljanić and Ensemble Variances in the form of dramatic miniatures, the musical language inspired by the tradition of the Dalmatian Glagolitic chants. It reminds us of the time when Europe also had a spirituality connected to the earth and nature, and forms a perfect historical counterpart for the Navajo tradition that is still alive today.

This program is designed as a ritual, creating an atmosphere in which the healing powers and wisdom of shamans and priests will be brought to life.
Come closer, gather around the fire. It’s time to listen...



Kokla kokabula
A creation according to pagan and Christian Dalmatian exorcism

Some memories never fade. I can still picture my grandmother and what happened on the island of Pašman in Croatia on a stormy day, a long time ago. At first, she frightened me. Then she transformed into a domestic deity, albeit a bit clumsy. Holding a twig of an olive tree, waving it from one corner of the garden to the other, she murmured "Holy Cross, I believe in you, Saint Lucy, I follow you, St. Mary, I pray to you". She added incomprehensible syllables, "mek elek amelek" , invoked cohorts of saints to save her plants and animals. When the storm calmed down, I knew I had nothing to fear, because my grandmother knew how to appease the divine.
An eternity has passed, the old divinities are dead, other divinities came and went. One day, not too long ago, a little notebook seemed to pop into my hands in a Croatian library, and the manuscript room suddenly filled with the smell of that stormy day on the island. The notebook contained inscriptions and clumsy drawings. It looked like a recipe book, written with a hand stained with earth, wax and grease: prayers, exorcisms, formulas of magic and traditional medicine, amulets to be worn around the neck, curses for chasing bad spirits or diseases, bad weather, the possessed. Written down between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries by the Glagolitic clerics of the Dalmatian islands, who were a kind of half-shamans, half-priests. They invented words that sounded scholarly, wise, messed up the Latin and Greek prayers they did not understand "Lex ex pex, kakla kokabula, mantam santam oderem".
Texts full of pagan elements, mixed with Christian prayers. Mesmerized by the universe of these priests-peasants, I decided to just lend my mouth to their spells and let them do their magic. These words have thus become the basis of a new creation in the form of dramatic miniatures, their musical language inspired by the Dalmatian Glagolitic tradition.

Katarina Livljanić


KKatarina Livljanić / Dialogos Ensemble

Kokla Kokabula, an incantation based on christian and pagan exorcisms from medieval Croatia

Thierry Pécou

Changing Woman, cantata of the Four Mountains for two contraltos and instrumental ensemble. Libretto by Sylvie Blasco based on Navajo songs and mythology. Co-commission of the Festival Arabesques Hamburg and Festival d‘Ambronay

Number of people

Guest artists

Katarina Livljanić mezzosoprano
Noa Frenkel contralto

Ensemble Variances

Thierry Pécou direction
Anne Cartel flute
Carjez Gerretsen clarinet
Nicolas Prost saxophone
David Louwerse cello
Laurene Durantel double bass
Irinri Aravidou percussions
Marie Vermeulin electric piano


Co-production Festival d’Ambronay, Deutsch-Französisches Kulturfestival Arabesques, Théâtre de Cornouaille - Quimper. In partnership with Ensemble Dialogos.

The Ensemble Variances receive support from Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication - Drac Normandie, Région Normandie, Spedidam, Sacem, Ville de Rouen, Odia Normandie, Onda. The Ensemble Variances is member of Fevis, Futurs Composés, Bureau Export and Profedim. It is member of Groupement d'Employeurs Solstice, supported by Région Normandie.