Ceremonial (2012) was commissioned by percussionist Sarah Mouradoglou, the work’s dedicatee. The piece musically illustrates an initiatory journey through the four primordial symbolic elements, Earth, Air, Water and Fire, to end in a dazzling and luminous sound apotheosis. A particular rhythm (two briefs – silence – one brief) punctuates the entire journey in different forms, a sort of leitmotiv intended to guide the traveller on his journey. All parts follow one another without interruption.
Earth opens on an ostinato with dark and disturbing colours (Tom-toms, Grosse Caisse, Tam-tam…) which progressively evolves towards a greater and greater complexity by the addition of new motifs that are superimposed. For the first time in the piece, Air calls upon the four keyboards (Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Vibraphone and Marimba), supported by the other instruments. Water exploits the entire instrumentarium, playing on a very wide variety of colours and timbres and a subtle polyrhythm in contrast to a naïve “music box” created by the keyboards.
Finally, Fire uses a rhythmic ostinato on which a motif based on the Fibonacci series is gradually built up with an increasing and decreasing number of notes: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1. This motive is taken up in canon by several instruments, these disappearing gradually, like something that slowly but irremediably burns out. Then immediately follows the final section, where once again the four keyboards play the main role: a theme of a solemn character appears, first in halftones, as if in half-light, then increasingly bright. On top of this, snippets of elements from the previous journeys are grafted, as a final reminiscence of the ordeals they went through. Ceremonial then ends with a brilliant orchestral tutti.
This work was premiered at Festival Ars Musica 2013, on 10th March in the Flagey Studio 1 (Brussels, Belgium) by the Sarah Mouradoglou Percussion Ensemble (dir. Michel Lysight).