Walking in Beauty, Laura Tohe

Walking in Beauty, Laura Tohe

Side by side with Laura Tohe
A concert-ritual

With music by Thierry Pécou resonating with music from the Middle-Ages and poetry performed by Navajo poet Laura Tohe
Creation 2018, North-American Tour



At a time when scientific and technological progress is revolutionizing our world, we seem to be losing touch with it. Our society of ‘doing’ and ‘having’ is a source of ecological misery. An increasing destabilization of individuals is the result, as evidenced by the emergence of psychological and physiological disorders.
It is this observation that inspired Thierry Pécou for his new score, Changing Woman, cantata of the Four Mountains, whose substance is derived from his encounter with the culture and spirituality of the Navajo Indians.
The fascinating healing ceremonies of the Navajos have the function of restoring the Hozho, a word that is difficult to translate, and which signifies harmony, balance and beauty. For the Navajos, health has many facets: physical, mental, spiritual and also social, because the individual must be cured as well as the entire community, in order to find a state in which one feels that everything is in its place.
In his cantata, Thierry Pécou takes a personal look at Navajo rituals and philosophy, plunging us into a whirlwind of sound. In order to bring the staging to a spatial level, Ensemble Variances and Katarina Livljanić have invited a Native American artist and poet to dialogue with songs from the Dalmatian islands of the Middle Ages. These songs are magic formulas, medical recipes or prayers of exorcism that remind us of the time when the West also had a spirituality connected to the earth and nature. The dialogue with Navajo poetry and its inner music, which reflect the harmony between man and his environment, then becomes troublingly apparent...
Come, gather around the fire. It’s time to listen...


Laura Tohe

Laura Tohe is Diné. She is Tsénahabiłnii, Sleepy Rock People clan, and born for the Tódich’inii, Bitter Water clan. She grew up at Crystal, New Mexico near the Chuska Mountains on the Diné homeland.
Her published books include Making Friends with Water (chapbook); No Parole Today, a book on boarding schools; Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community, co-edited with Heid Erdrich; Tseyí Deep in the Rock, in collaboration with photographer, Stephen Strom; and Code Talker Stories, an oral history book with the remaining Navajo Code Talkers. The Phoenix Symphony commissioned her to write the libretto for Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, which made its 2008 world premiere as part of the Phoenix Symphony’s 60th anniversary. A compact disc recording of Enemy Slayer is on the Naxos classical music label. It received rave reviews by the Arizona Republic and was called “a triumph” by Opera Today.
A poet, writer, and librettist, Tohe's work has been published in such journals as Ploughshares, New Letters, cream city review, Red Ink, World Literature Today and many others. Her work has appeared in the U.S., Canada, South America and in Europe with French, Dutch and Italian translations. She has read her poetry internationally in the U.S., Europe, and South America. Laura holds a doctorate degree in creative writing, Indigenous American Literature, and American Literature.
Laura is Professor with Exemplar Distinction in the English Department at Arizona State University and is an Arizona Speaks presenter for the Arizona Humanities that awarded her the 2006 Dan Schilling Public Scholar award.
In 2015 Laura was honored as the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2015-2017, a title given to her in celebration and recognition of her work as a poet and writer.


Katarina Livljanic

Kokla kokabula, new composition based on glagolitic songs of the Middle Ages

Laura Tohe

Navajo poems

Thierry Pécou

Changing Woman, Cantata of the Four Mountains for two contraltos and ensemble

Number of people

Guest artists

Katarina Livljanic contralto
Noa Frenkel contralto
Laura Tohe poet

Ensemble Variances

Anne Cartel flute
Carjez Gerretsen clarinet
Nicolas Prost saxophone
David Louwerse cello
Laurène Durantel double bass
Irini Aravidou percussions
Thierry Pécou direction and piano


In partnership with the City of Rouen and the French Amercian Chamber of Commerce Cleveland. Alto - solutions artistiques coordinates the North-Amercian tour of the Ensemble Variances.

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.