Cantico / Sarband
Spiritual Music between the Occident and the Orient
Jaro 4151


1. Gloria in Cielo  [3:45]
Arr.: V. Ivanoff

2. Hicâz Ilâhî  [6:08]
Trad., arr.: Sarband

3. Sancto Lorenzo, martyr d'amore  [6:48]
Arr.: V. Ivanoff

4. Hüseyni Ilâhî  [6:27]
Trad., arr.: Sarband

5. O divina virgo  [4:12]
Arr.: V. Ivanoff

6. [4:10]
Ecco La Primavera / Preghiam Jesu con lieta ciera
Francesco LANDINI, arr. V. Ivanoff

7. Tre fontane  [8:27]
Arr.: V. Ivanoff

8. [12:39]
Hicâz Ilâhî | Trad., arr.: Sarband,
Kaside | Trad,
Hicâz Ilâhî | Trad., arr.: Sarband

9. Cantico delle Creature  [5:15]
Musik: V. Ivanoff, Text: Francesco d'Assisi

10. [5:24]
Ezân-i Muhammedi,
Segâh Tekbir | Bearbeitung Buhurriz‚de Mustafa ItrÓ,,
Salât-i ümmiye | Bearbeitung HAtip Zakiri Hasan EfendÓ

Vladimir Ivanoff

Fabio AccursoCetra, Traverse, Perkussion, Schalmeien
Rose Bihler-Shah — Gesang, mittelalterliche Streichinstrumente
Paolo Giuseppe CecereViella, Drehleier, Schalmeien, Zugtrumpeet, Gesang
Mustafa Doğan Dikmen — Gesang, Kudüm
Alison GanglerSchalmeien
Vladimir IvanoffLaute, Organetto, Perkussion
Cornelia Melián — Gesang, Organetto, Blockflöte
Fatih OvalıTanbur, Perkussion
Íhsan ÖzerKanun, Perkussion
Ahmed Kadri RizeliKemence, Perkussion
Nejad ŞansalNey
Saam SchlammingerPerkussion
Mehmet Cemal YeşilçayUd, Perkussion

Men's Choir:
Erbil Günar, Mustafa Gürle, Roger Hefele, Oliver Kälbere,
Thomas Näbauer, Ercan Verol, Mehmet Yurttaş

Ensemble SARBAND was founded in March 1986 with the aim of showing, through concerts and research, the relationship between early European music and the musical cultures of Islam. SARBAND is a term used in a 14th-century Syrian manuscript to refer to the coupling of two parts within a musical suite.

SARBAND is a unique kind of musical ensemble, which draws its inspiration from various musical cultures, integrating them into its programme. Their multi-facetted repertoire comprises oriental and occidental music from the Middle Ages, as well as Baroque and contemporary music, sometimes also presented, in larger-scale projects, in scenical versions.

The roots of medieval music are to be found in the oriental musical cultures. Spain and Italy in particular were strongly influenced by musical elements from the oriental world: monophony, modal systems and rich ornamentation.

These roots are frequently denied or ignored to this day. The picture of Europe as the centre of the world is still deeply engrained in European consciousness. The influence of Islam on the Europe of the Middle Ages was, as already mentioned, considerable.

"The teachings of the natural sciences, such as physics, astronomy, geography, mathematics or medicine, but also poetry and musical theory, were transmitted by the Arabs from the world of Ancient Greece to Europe. They also brought with them conceptions of refined life, such as Europeans could not have imagined in their wildest dreams. Long before the Christian world had the capability to do so, Islam installed an efficiently operating system of knowledge and research at the fringes of medieval Europe." (from "Einfluß des Islam auf das europäische Mittelalter", Verlag Wagenbach 1988).

The musical director of SARBAND, Vladimir Ivanoff gave special attention in designing programmes and selecting the Turkish, Italian and German musicians, to ensure that the musical dialogue goes beyond the cultural taboos between Christianity and Islam existing today, that European and Arab instruments are both to be heard in Moslem Sufi Music prayers and Italian religious songs.


CANTICO seeks to demonstrate the influence of Islamic mysticism on the religious music of the Middle Ages and the parallels between Christian and Islamic mysticism: traditional Sufi music is compared and contrasted with the songs of the Italian laudesi (brotherhoods of lay believers) in the 13th century. The SARBAND ensemble, with a core of Turkish and European musicians, perform on a regular basis with other musicians from Turkey, Iran and the Arab countries. In their various projects they explore the Arab influence on Spanish music during the Middle Ages, make evident the virtually ignored contact that existed between Turkish and European music, but above all they are concerned to compare and contrast musical phenomena from the Orient and the Occident, the significance of which goes beyond the purely musical to the comparison of cultures.

The emphasis is placed, not on the historically documented mutual influence of the cultures, or the purely musical reconstruction of historical performance practice, but on the contrast and comparison of parallel forms of musical expression which developed under comparable social-historical and religious-historical conditions both in the Christian and in the Arab cultural worlds.

Islamic mysticism, Sufism, is rooted in the ascetic and contemplative tendencies of the Prophet Muhammed. Its further development was also significantly influenced by Syrian monasticism, the writings of Dionysius Areopagita, and by Indian mysticism. Just as in Christian or Jewish mysticism, Sufism also expresses itself in a partly speculative form and partly as emotional mysticism suffused with love.

Christianity assimilated mysticism at first in a relativised form from its Hellenistic surroundings. It was not until New Platonistic influences penetrated from the East, with the writings and teachings of Dionysius Areopagita, and those of St. Augustine in the West, that there was any absolute integration.

Christianity distinguishes between three mystic paths to salvation: the via purgativa, illuminativa, unitiva. Sufism similarly distinguishes between saria (the Law), tarîqa (the Mystic Path) and haqiqa (the Truth)^.

Ecstasy, or self-transcendence, was and is considered the peak of religious experience, and for this reason mystics of many religions have sought to achieve it through preparation and exercise.

Sufism distinguishes between wagt, sudden ecstasy occurring through the grace of God, and tawâgud, the endeavouring to achieve ecstasy through one's own efforts. This can happen through dance (semâ), for example, as in the case of the Mevlevi Dervishes, through fasting and castigation, the constant repetition of a religious utterance, or through the contemplation of the sacraments. A certain state is reached that is beyond normal time, in which the "Eternal Now" is experienced in one moment of revelation.

The German mystic of the Middle Ages, Meister Ekkehart:
"I heard without any sound, saw without light, smelt without movement, tasted what was not, sensed what did not exist".
The Oriental mystic and singer, Ibn al-Farid:
"My eye spoke while my tongue watched, my hand listened and my ears were like hands".

The Lauda:
Just as in Spain, the religious poetry of Italy bears similarities with Oriental models. To the category of traditional and folkloric spiritual music belong also the Spanish Cantiga and the Italian lauda.
The lay brotherhoods (laudesi) in medieval Italy, which arose from the guilds of artisans, sang laude at their prayer gatherings.

The monophonic lauda of the 13th and 14th centuries, modelled after Gregorian sequences (Sancto Lorenzo) or profane dance songs, also depends on the rhythmic prose of the Cantico delle Creature (Song to the Sun) of Francis of Assisi. St. Francis visited the Middle East as a missionary, the Cantico reflecting impressions gained on his travels.

The lauda is characterised by simple diatonic melodies with stepwise progressions, and dance rhythm (O divina virgo).

Performer and audience became separate in the course of the 14th and early 15th centuries; the laude were no longer sung by the brotherhood members themselves, but during devotions by professional musicians, who often set new spiritual texts to what were otherwise popular profane melodies (Ecco la primavera / Preghiam Jesu).

Music of the Sufi brotherhoods (Ílâhî hymns):
Sufism has its roots in the congregations of Moslem believers in the 8th century, who recited surahs from the Koran and other religious texts. Sufism owes its popularity, in a similar way to the lay theology of the laudesi, to the direct and personal expression of the religious feelings.

Believers formed brotherhoods, under the guidance of a sheik, from the 13th century onwards. In 1207, Mevland Celâleddin el Rûmi, who formulated the central principles of Sufism, was born in Balkh. His son, Sultan Veled, founded the mevlevi order.

The are marked parallels between the Italian laudesi brotherhoods and the Islamic Sufi orders in the form of expressing their religious believings, their development and in the structure of their musical repertoire.
The ilâhi, the central component of the repertoire of many Sufi brotherhoods, but also widespread beyond that sphere in popular culture, too, is characterised by catchy melodies, strophic from and dance rhythm, just like the lauda.

The musical roots of the ilâhi are to be found in the traditional recitations from the Koran. A school of Koran recitation developed from the 8th century onwards which distanced itself increasingly from the sanctioned syllabic recitation style and which developed its own artistically -and technically refined style: quir'a bi-l-alhan, or recitation with profane melodies. The Koran readers of Caliph Harun al-Rashid (786-809), according to contemporary accounts, made the Koran sound like a classical art song. This recitation style spread rapidly to Islamic Spain and to Sicily, even though it was rejected by orthodox believers (as was the recitation of spiritual texts in the form of love songs, popular songs or dance songs in the form of lauda and sequentia).

The instrumental accompaniment of ilâhis during prayers and processions has been documented, just as the lauda, from earliest times. When pilgrims to Mecca (haji) departed again, they were sent off to the sound of ilâhis, performed in processions to orchestral accompaniment. During the Islamic month of fasting, ramadan, there are many ilâhis, instrumentally accompanied, which are assigned to particular days of the month. The ilâhi conveys, similarly to the lauda, central fundamental tenets of belief expressed clearly and simply. In the last verse, the poet of the verse often denounces himself before God as a sinner. This is reminiscent of the penitential character of many laude, particularly those associated with the penitent and castigating disciplinati brotherhoods.

The musicians in Sarband are

Rose Bihler-Shah
born at Esslingen a. N . , studied singing, musicology and indology. She has performed in numerous concerts, as well as record, radio and television recordings of Early Music and traditional Turkish music.

Cornelia Melián
born in in Munich, studied singing and recorder at the Richard Strauss Conservatory in Munich. Studies and concert diploma in singing and performance practice at the Schola Cantdrum Basiliensis,

Mehmet Cemâl Yeşilçay
born in in Istanbul. Student of the the Turkish virtuoso singer and musicologist Cinuçen Tanrıkorur, composer of classicial and modern Turkish music (Musiktheater Biennale Munich 1988)

Mustafa Doğan Dikmen
born in Ankara, pupil of Bekir Sitki Sezgin and Niyazi Sayin. Soloist in radio performances, numerous performances abroad, specialist for Islamic and Sufi music. Teacher at the Istanbul Conservatory.

Ihsan Özer
born in Istanbul. Studied composition and Kanun at Istanbul Conservatory. Soloist in the Ensemble Ruhi Ayangil. Compositions for the Istanbul Festival. Member of the faculty at the Istanbul Conservatory. Director of the Collegium Musicum.

Ahmed Kadri Rizeli
born in Istanbul. Member of the teaching staff at Istanbul Conservatory. Member of the Istanbul Radio Ensemble. Numerous record, radio and TV recordings.

Giuseppe Paolo Cecere
born at Gorizia. Studied at the University of Trieste. Compositions for theatre. Studied historical string instruments. Leader of the Ensemble Dramsam since 1985.

Fatih Ovalı
studied Tanbur at the Istanbul college for classical Turkish music. Professor for classical Turkish music at the University of Istanbul. Leader of the university ensemble.

Nejad Şansal
studied Ney in Istanbul. In addition to classical Turkish music, also plays in various ethno-jazz and rock groups.

Alison Gangler
studied oboe in the USA and at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basle, where she graduated in early woodwind instruments. Numerous concerts and recordings for leading early music ensembles: Nicolaus Hanoncourt, Musica Antigua in Cologne, Concerto Köln, Frans Brüggen, etc.
Fabio Accurso
studied lute under Toyohiko Sato, and string instruments of the Middle Ages under Vladimir Ivanoff. Member of various Italian ensembles for early music.

Saam Schlamminger
studied Dombak and Dotar under Bruno Caillat, Jean During and the Persian master, Chemirani. Performs with various ensembles for classical Persian music.

Vladimir Ivanoff
born in Sofia. Studied lute, singing and performance practice at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. First and second degrees in Music from Munich, research visits to Turkey and Italy. Concerts and recordings all over Europe and in the USA.

Recorded by Peter Ruhrberg, Dachau, June 1990
Produced by Uli Balss
Cover & Layout by Mix Bremen Torsten Höner
Translation text by Dr. V. Ivanoff, F. Accurso, Dr. E. Siedel, Tim Spence
Cover foto by Uli Balss