The Perfect Light
Christian and Muslim Music for the Birth of Jesus and Mohammed
Not only Christians celebrate a birth feast: Although orthodox Islam rejects a personal worship of the Prophet Muhammad,
numerous legendary stories are told about his birth and many Muslims celebrate this feast in their families (Turk. «Mevlud»).
On this day people eat and pray together, they sing and read from the Qur'an and tell the story of the Prophet's birth.
The Prophet's birth is closely entwined with the concept of light, which brought him into this world.
For this reason, mosques, public spaces and houses are adorned with candles and lights. Incense is also burnt.
The textual and contentual relations between the birth narrative of the Muslim Prophet and the Christian Son of God are
striking: the appearance of Archangel Gabriel, the «Light of the World», the journey on the back of a donkey. But also the
outer signs celebrating the Advent (the «arrival») of the two founders of religions - lights and candles, incense, the reading of
the birth narrative - show the close spiritual connection.
In the 8th century, the Arab historian Ibn Ishaq reports about Muhammad: «One day, some of his companions asked the Prophet
to tell them about himself. He obliged and said: 'I am my father Abraham's prayer and my brother Jesus' good tidings.'»
Ensemble Sarband recount the two Advent tales and sing songs proclaiming the joyful expectation of the two births,
but of course also praising the two religious leaders' mothers, Amina and Mary.
«Church song as a liaison between religions - Ensemble Sarband captivated the audience with Christian and Muslim chants - the German-Oriental performance by Sarband, directed by Dr. Vladimir Ivanoff, was a special treat in the program of the festival. The audience listened entranced, and allowed the ensemble only to leave home after two encores. A magical atmosphere emerged in the soft light of the abbey, which certainly also would have pleased Robin Hood, Emperor Barbarossa or Emir Saladin. The whirling dervish in the background, turning in trance, was the icing on the cake. A striking performance …» Martin Köhler, Rhein-Zeitung, 01.10.2014
«Ensemble Sarband connects Christian with Muslim music - 90 worthwhile minutes - Saturday night in the abbey, Sarband did his name proud. "Sarband" means connection. The artists not only succeeded in combining Christian and Muslim Music in a seamless way, but also connected with the audience. The applause, lasting for minutes, was the reward for the group, which took the audience on a journey of more than 1 ½ hours … A transcultural dialogue, full of respect, with music, not words. The group captivated the listeners from the first minute on …»
Sven Holler, Die Rheinpfalz, 30.09.2014
«Meditation and dance, or how to unite hope and joy to truth. From the first song, the audience in the Palacio de Congresos complied with the sincerity of the proposal to celebrate the birth of both prophets … Drama and meditation, respectful celebration, thanks to the musicians … solemnity spread in the concert hall … Sounding light in the clarity of their
nstruments … Thus, the performance of Sarband was connected to the listeners in every moment … old songs in faithful interpretation, wonderful and transcendental …
A beautiful and memorable concert.» El Periódico (Spain), 12.08.2013
«If the Stadtkirche was sold out for the opening show, the concert of Ensemble Sarband brought it to the limits of its capacity.
More was impossible. … This kind of music has not been heard here before. The show was already intriguing because of the
authenticity of performers and performance. … Two brilliant soloists stood in the centre: The Sweden, an
almost mythical appearance, tall, slender with white-blonde long hair and a crystal clear soprano voice with dark timbre …
Congenially at her side the Turk Mustafa Doğan Dikmen, whose vigorous voice filled the nave effortlessly with a variety of
peculiarly Oriental guttural sounds. Warm and haunting sounded the Quran suras about Mary and the birth of Jesus. ...
At the end, the audience remained in almost reverent awe, which then erupted into persistent applause for the musicians.»
Hans-Dieter Speck, Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (Germany), 20.06.2010
«Ensemble Sarband prove that 15th-century Sufi music can be exciting and relevant to Western listeners. Every performance
of Sarband is an experience … Before Jordi Savall became famous with it, Vladimir Ivanoff was already committed to the vision that the separation between Orient and Occident did not make sense in Early Music … What makes Sarband so unique is Ivanoff's persistent effort to make Oriental music accessible to Western listeners..»
Stefan Grondelaers, De Standaard (Belgium), 25.05.2010
«Building bridges is easier said than done - on the concert stage it worked out perfectly!
A perfectly performed
choreography, a stringently woven golden thread: recitations and music telling the births of Jesus and Mohammed are
interwoven without gaps into a diversified and entertaining program.» Marion Aigl, Wiener Zeitung, 23.12.2009
«With genuine enthusiasm, the audience thanked for an unforgettable concert that brought different cultures much closer
together than political hate campaigns could ever set them apart.»
Franz Szabo,Kritisches Journal der Alten Musik (Austria), 22.03.2008