the ictus timeline in 69 milestones


The Belgian sextet Maximalist! was formed in 1983 around Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch. In that same time Anne Teresa De Keermaeker danced her first shows. When Wim Vandekeybus, in 1990, fused together his first two shows (What the Body Does Not Remember, 1987, and Les Porteuses de Mauvaises Nouvelles – The Bringers of Bad News, 1989) into a single entity, The Weight of a Hand, the group expanded and added Georges-Elie Octors as its conductor, and played for a while under the silly name Twelve Belgian Musicians.

On the picture : Maximalist! (left to right, Thierry De Mey, Dirk Descheemaeker, Peter Vermeersch and their enormous coldwave eyeglasses).



We have a name !

After a long meeting with Thierry De Mey, his proposal Ictus (found by going through a Music Dictionary) was preferred over Dirk Descheemaeker's (Art et Santé).

First concert in Kaaitheater (formerly "Luna Theater") under this new name : works by Peter Vermeersch, Thierry De Mey, Béla Bartók, Anton Webern and György Ligeti.

Sonata for two pianos and percussion



a Look to the Dictionary

What's an Ictus ?
A french Music Dictionary proposes this example from La Traviata :
we have here ten times a thesis (or beats),
but only four times an ictus (marked with a cross)


May 94 : our first ROSAS production : KINOK, music by Thierry De Mey and Ludwig van B.
Choreography : Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

"A dance language which, despite its apparent diversity, marks a new phase of the development in De Keersmaeker’s choreographic work: the cautious approach to the classic dance idiom." _ (Rudi Laermans, Marianne Van Kerkhoven)

AUDIO link : Kinok



October 94 : first contact with Toshio Hosokawa

A portrait concert in Plateau (today known as "Nadine")
with the composer and some excellent traditional Japanese musicians.

Octobre !

First international performance as a chamber music group : Octobre en Normandie (Laurent Langlois) - a friendship was born.

Programme : George Crumb : Celestial Mechanics.

On the picture : Georges-Elie Octors in his Motown days.



Our second ROSAS performance.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Thierry De Mey :
Amor constante más allá de la muerte, after a poem by Francisco de Quevedo.

Love constant beyond Death
Perhaps whatever final shadow that
the shining day may bring could close my eyes,
and this my soul may well be set aflight
by time responding to its longing sighs;


March : performing Le Gel Par Jeu in Brussels :
first contact with Gérard PESSON


June : a portrait concert with Luca Francesconi.
A friendship was born.
Special guest : Philippe Albéra.

AUDIO link : Da Capo



First concert of the Ictus Wind Quintet.
Kurtág, Berio, Henze, Francesconi.

A first Season

At the invitation of Hugo De Greef,
first season in Kaaitheater: six thematic concerts.

November 95 : Over Ironie (About Irony)
and Een Gelaagde Tijd (A foliated time)


First concert with music by Jean-Luc Fafchamps :
Melencolia Si ... for two pianos and two percussions.


Magnus Lindberg

January 1996 :
Concert with Magnus Lindberg
- a friendship is born.

Coyote Blues,

and Gérard Grisey's Talea.

AUDIO link : Corrente


James Wood

March 96 : with James Wood,
Parliament of Angels in KVS

Viola in my Life

Kaaitheater, May 96 :
two movements of Viola in my Life,
and a first contact with Morton Feldman's inimitable music.


Clarinet quintet

January 97 : first concert of the Clarinet Quintet,
founded by Takashi Yamane (now living in Tokyo)

Magnus Lindberg, W.A. Mozart

AUDIO link : Magnus Lindberg, Clarinet Quintet (CD)


George Benjamin

March 97 : With George Benjamin
at Kaaitheater during Ars Musica.

At First Light

(G.B. : "excellent ensemble, should improve discipline".)


First contact with Helmut Oehring and
Iris Ter Schiphorst :

a tribute to B-A Zimmermann's Présence.

PICTURE : Travesty of François Deppe in Présence.
AUDIO link : Prae-Senz


Emmanuel NUNES

MAY 1997 : First contact with Emmanuel Nunes.

Nachtmusik for ensemble and Einspielung II for solo cello in Les Brigittines,
with a lecture by Peter Szendy.

PICTURE : Nunes & François Deppe
AUDIO link : Nachtmusik recorded in IRCAM



Still in Les Brigittines, May 97, a beautiful concert with the saxophones of the Blindman Kwartet and harpist Frédérique Cambreling : revival of IN C by Terry Riley.

AUDIO link : live recording of this evening. That was our first CYPRES CD.



Close Video


June 97 : first collaboration between IRCAM and the Ictus piano-percussion quartet.

Eric De Visscher commissioned a series of new works to Magnus Lindberg (Related Rocks), Philippe Leroux (M), Brice Pauset (Perspectivae Sintagma for solo piano and electronics) + a new version of Michael Jarrell's Rhizome, and a quadraphonic resumption of Karlheinz Stockhausen Kontakte.

Hot memories of the IRCAM printers, delivering the Magnus' score in real time.

AUDIO link (click on the narrow below) : Related Rocks, later live recording (Avignon, 2000)
VIDEO link (click on the picture) : Brice Pauset, Perspectivae Sintagma



Summer holidays in Hungary :
meeting with Brian Ferneyhouygh, leading the Szombathely composition workshop.
We read some boulezian music composed by a certain François Sarhan, 25 years old.


October 1997 : our 3rd performance with Rosas.
A flood of personal stories, great dance moments and a musical mosaic from Brahms to Lindberg via Cage.


December 97,
concert with the Arditti Quartet and Rosemary Hardy :
Pulse Shadows by Harrison Birtwistle
for soprano, quartet and ensemble
after Paul Celan


Jonathan Harvey

January 1998 : love at first sight with Jonathan Harvey in Brussels.
Premiere of Wheel of Emptiness conducted by Alain Franco.
That was the first concert with a guitarist scarcely out of adolescence, Tom Pauwels.

AUDIO link : from our CD Wheel of Emptiness





February 98 : Heroic performance of Philippe Ranallo in the Rosas Performance Space : Yan Maresz, Metallics for trumpet and electronics - first step of a long series of concerts .

With Steve Reich

First contact with Steve Reich,
invited in Brussels by Ars Musica.
After two minutes, the composer turned into a mad rage because we did not rent microphones for the rehearsal.
Georges-Elie did not answer, but he gave the start for a full version of Tehillim I with furious tempo, without a single mistake.

A friendship was born.


April 98, Witten : great first contact with Misato Mochizuki


Public outcry and scandal in Donaueschingen with the Helmut Oehring's
for three countertenors, electric guitar and ensemble.

Invisible Mother

October 98
A fascinating experience with Fabrizio Cassol and Aka Moon :
Invisible Mother for ensemble and jazz quartet, with alto saxophone, six instruments, two pianos, a set of tibetan bowls and some ravishing celesta parts ("the ancestor of the Fender Rhodes", Cassol said).

AUDIO : follow the link



February 1999
Produced by La Monnaie and Kaaitheater,
a new version of Ligeti's Aventures
staged by Pierre Droulers and Jim Clayburg

First (and not last!) collaboration with Peter Rundel, conductor.



Rolande Van Der Paal in Aventures,
ready to flame up.

Rosas #4 : I Said I

I Said I : our fifth collaboration with Rosas,
after a text by Peter Handke
(Selbstbezichtigung, Self-accusation)
DJ Grazzhoppa, Fabrizio Cassol and Ictus Klaviertrio.


With Robyn Schulkowsky

1999, Summer Holiday

Seminar and concert in Salzburger Festspiele
with Robyn Schulkowsky,
who came with two enormous suitcases full of scores,
her cactus
and her unstoppable laughters.

Mission : John Cage


September 1999
Residence and workshop in Royaumont.
First contact with Johannes Schöllhorn.


18 !

First performance of
Music for Eighteen Musicians
by Steve Reich, in Amiens.


February 2000 : KRAFT

in deSingel, with Anssi Karttunen conducting the
Flanders Philharmonic :
KRAFT by Magnus Lindberg



First Seminar for young composers in the Rosas and P.A.R.T.S building,
with guest composers Luca Francesconi and our new friend Fausto Romitelli.

Students : Joanna Bailie, Mauro Montalbetti, Janis Petraskevics, Larisa Vrhunc and others.

With Saariaho

May 2000
Kaaija Saariaho portrait concert in Kaaistudio's

Drumming Live with Rosas

Augustus 2000
5th production with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas :
DRUMMING with live music



Love at first sight with Georges Aperghis
and his furious oratorio Die Hamletmaschine
after Heiner Müller,
a turning point in his long and prolific course.
Endless conversations on theater, Beethoven, Deleuze and De Funès.

AUDIO LINK : Die Hamletmaschine-Oratorio, the CD


Professor Bad Trip

October 2000
Premiere of the complete cycle
Professor Bad Trip
in Festival Musica, Strasbourg,
by and with Fausto Romitelli.

AUDIO link : Professor Bad Trip, the CD



deSingel, October 2000,
an essential Heinz Holliger's masterpiece :
after Robert Walser
for countertenor, accordion, clarinet and double bass.

PICTURE : Kai Wessel, countertenor

Les Noces

Exciting collaboration with JAMES WOOD and his choir (New London Chamber Choir).
Pièce de résistance : the classical version of Les Noces by Stravinsky (1923),
with Jan Michiels and Johan Bossers as 3rd and 4th pianists.

James conducted firstly the rough and unfinished 1919 version with pianola, harmonium and two cimbaloms.

PICTURE: not ZZ Top, but REX LAWSON, the best pianola player, perhaps the only one.
LINK: audio take



February 2001, Kaaitheater.

A entire Wolfgang Rihm evening - our first contact with his music :
CHIFFRES, a long cycle in ten movements, alternating chamber and ensemble pieces.


In the Rosas and P.A.R.T.S studios, second seminar for young composers,
coached by Jonathan Harvey and Thierry De Mey.

Among students : Paul Craenen, with whom we have not lost touch.

PICTURE: Paul Craenen (center)


Matthew Shlomowitz, at work with Jonathan Harvey

IN C in Salzburg

Summer holidays in Salzburg.

Function of music is to abolish time, Ligeti said.
This is exactly what we did in the Salzburg Kollegienkirche,
exploding standards with a 130 minutes version of Terry Riley's IN C

(It is now time to apologize to Arnold Schoenberg Choir,
who waited backstage for more than one hour to continue the concert.)


Kaaitheater, September 2001.

First contact with RICCARDO NOVA:
the superb DRONES fro trumpet, guitar, three percussions and strings.

AUDIO LINK on Soundcloud Nova's page : one of the many Drones remix
(when Riccardo is not composing, he is seen remixing).

PICTURE from our classified archive.


RAIN (live) with Rosas

Januray 2002, Amsterdam :

Premiere of RAIN LIVE,
one of the Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker masterworks
after Music for eighteen musicians by Steve Reich.
The 6th Rosas-Ictus tour.

Waits | Weill

May 2002

Tom Waits & Kurt Weill face to face,
in new arrangements by Jean-Luc Fafchamps,
Fabian Fiorini, François Deppe.

Premiere in Brugge,
with bluesman Kris Dane
and the impeccably Brechtian mezzosoprano Maria Husmann.

Later: long long tour with Kris and Judith Vindevogel (impeccably vindevogelian).

LINK: the project page


Seminar #3 : Sciarrino

June 2002

Seminar for young composers, Edition 3,
with Salvatore Sciarrino,
and Portrait Concert in Kaaitheater and deSingel

We released our first and last t-shirt for the occasion
(PICTURE). On the shirt, this phrase by Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi :
Esso spirito infondente nell'anima vien con silentio cantando.

LINK: the final concert



October 2002

Our second production with Georges Aperghis :
Paysage Sous Surveillance
after Heiner Müller,
with two actors outside the norm :
Johanne Saunier and Jos Houben

Everything here is double, specular, mimetic,
including the musicians
(two clarinets, two cellos, two DX7 synthesizers).

LINK : the project page


Counter Phrases

March 2003 : nine years old !
Instead of a concert at Pompei
(as requested by Alexandre Fostier),
we asked ten composers to write original musics on dance films directed by Thierry De Mey and choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

Composers : Luca Francesconi (I), Jonathan Harvey (GB), Toshio Hosokawa (J), Magnus Lindberg (FIN), Steve Reich (USA), Thierry De Mey (B), Stefan Van Eycken (B), Georges Aperghis (F), Robin de Raef (NL), Fausto Romitelli (I).

LINK: the project page
PICTURE: Fumiyo Ikeda in Green, Yellow and Blue, music by Fausto Romitelli


Seminar #4 : Aperghis | Schöllhorn

April 2003,
allez hop!, new Seminar for young composers in the Rosas and P.A.R.T.S studios.

Teachers : Georges Aperghis and Johannes Schöllhorn,
and of course, clear "music-theatre" tendencies.

Student composers were :
Benjamin LANG (Germany)
Igal MYRTENBAUM (Israel)
Marianthi PAPALEXANDRI (Greece)
Evis SAMMOUTIS (Cyprus)
Chao-Ming TUNG (Taiwan)

PICTURE : Portrait Of Georges With Rose

La Frontière

Octobre 2003 :

First contact with Philippe Manoury, composer
Alain Planès, pianist,
Yoshi Oïda, director :

LA FRONTIERE, chamber opera with live electronics


An Index of Metals

In Cergy-Pontoise, October 2003 :
premiere of the ultimate Fausto Romitelli's piece,
his masterwork An Index of Metals,
with video and electronics by Paolo Pachini.

Wat een tijd ! Fausto was in the hospital at the time, and dictated to Paolo or Marc Texier, by phone, instructions for the Coda. François ran through the corridors shouting "Ô Beauty ! Beauty ! Beauty !". We sent home a certain famous italian sound engineer, because he refused to amplify acoustic instruments. Video crash. Computer crash. Et cetera. Time was out of joint.

LINK: Two audio excerpts
PICTURE: Cergy-Pontoise mon amour



March 2004: a double concert Berio/Bach
in Cité de la Musique, Paris,
with Collegium Vocale Gent.

LINK : a not-so-bad version of Luciano Berio's Linea,
for 2 pianos, marimba, vibraphone


Teatro Farneze

September 2004

Opening Traiettorie Festival, Parma,
at the extraordinary Teatro Farnese
with - inter alia - two pieces by Fausto Romitelli, who had recently died.

PICTURE: the Farnese theater

Alter Face

October 2004, Opéra de Lille :
ALTER FACE for two pianos (premiere)
by Georges Aperghis

Concert with commentary by the composer

Avis de Tempête

November 2004,
Opéra de Lille

AVIS DE TEMPETE by Georges Aperghis and Peter Szendy
after Herman Melville's Moby Dick (mainly)
+ Franz Kafka, Charles Baudelaire, Victor Hugo...

A unforgettable adventure with Donatienne Michel-Dansac, Johanne Saunier, Lionel Peintre and Romain Bischoff.

LINK: the project page with more pictures
PICTURE: Philippe Ranallo, Lionel Peintre


Candid Music

January 2005

Opéra de Lille : our first "Marathon",
four hours of american and english music
in different places.

Special guest : Gavin Bryars conducting his "Jesus Blood"


After midnight, Jean-Luc Fafchamps
played Morton Feldman's Triadic Memories
in the Foyer...

With Marc Monnet & Jan Michiels

September 2005, Strabourg, Musica Festival,
with Jan Michiels as guest soloist :
the long, strong and non-standard work by Marc Monnet for solo piano, 19 instruments (including 2nd piano) and electronics,
Bosse, Crâne Rasé, Nez Crochu.

PICTURE : Jan Michiels

Cédric Dambrain

First contact with a 26 years old belgian composer, Cédric Dambrain and his extraordinarily fresh work for cello and electronics, PURE - performed by François Deppe in Bozar.

Some time later, Cédric will become our first "Fellow composer" together with Oscar Bianchi.
LINK : PURE on Soundcloud
PICTURE : The Cédric's multi-control interface for electronic performances (2014, not used in Pure,
have a look here


SUFI WORD (Fafchamps' World)

Thanks to Bozar & Ars Musica 2006,
our first jumbo project with our pianist Jean-Luc Fafchamps, here as composer, who has found a new way to connect his pieces through the symbolic network of sufi letters.

Orchestre de Lille, Peter Rundel, Jan Michiels again, and our oboe-hero Piet Van Bockstal
(on the picture).


March 2006, MaerzMuzik, Berlin :
In a strange scenography made of neon tubes,
premiere of the "Water" tryptich by Misato Mochizuki :
4D, Wise Water, Etheric Blueprint,
partially inspired by the book Water knows the answers by Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto

LINK : Wise Water live, (excerpt), on SoundCloud




Come again later !