b. 1976

The Religion of Love, 2012

for tenor/countertenor, recorder, commissioned by UMS 'n JIP
world premiere Festival Forum : : Wallis, 2/2012

Stefan Pohlit studied Composition and Music Theory in Saarbrücken, Basel, Lyon, and Karlsruhe, in particular with Wolfgang Rihm, Sandeep Bhagwati and Peter-Michael Riehm. Since 1999 he started to pursue additional studies in the Near-Eastern maqam tradition and traveled extensively both in Turkey and the Arab world. In 2008 the Ankara State Conservatory appointed him as a Composition teacher in the rarely granted position of a “foreign expert” of the Turkish State where he conceived a new course program in contemporary music. In May 2011, he defended his doctoral thesis on the tuning system of Julien Bernard Jalâl Ed-Dine Weiss at the music research center MIAM of the Istanbul Technical University. Besides his activities as a composer, Pohlit continues to investigate in conditions and meanings of cross-cultural art-music. The microtonal language of Pohlit’s music explores complex harmonic relationships with which he aims to extend a specific tonal awareness. In this approach, he combines the insights from the study of extra-European musical cultures with a new consideration of Hans Kayser’s neo-Pythagorean science of “Harmonics”. He lives on the island of Büyükada, off the coast of Istanbul.

Scholarships and awards:
1993, Förderpreis des Deutschen Komponisten-Interessenverbands
1996, Künstlerisches Forschungsstipendium des Kultusministeriums Rheinland-Pfalz
2002, Stipendium der Heinrich-Strobel-Stiftung des SWR
2003, Stipendium der Landesstf. und der Landesgraduiertenstf. Baden-Württemberg
2004, Stipendium der Landesstf. und der Landesgraduiertenstf. Baden-Württemberg
2005, Stipendium der Landesstf. und der Landesgraduiertenstf. Baden-Württemberg
2005, Stipendium der Heinrich-Strobel-Stiftung des SWR
2007, Stipendium des DAAD
2008, Stipendium des DAAD
2009, Sonderpreis des Workshops für Orchesterkomposition des RSO Stuttgart des SWR

The Religion of Love. This work tries to capture selected aspects of recitation, as they are common in certain Middle-Eastern Sufi traditions. The treatment of the recorder may allude to the sound and articulation practice on the open reed-flute nay, while the initial setting with its lack of clear tempo and meter, shall create the atmosphere of a classical taqsim improvisation. The central trichord on which all harmonic and modal developments are based soon reveals itself as a segment from the overtoneseries, in depicting the 12th, 13th, and 14th partials on a fundamental E flat. The chosen text constitutes the most famous poem from Ibn Arabi’s collection, “Interpreter of Desires” from the 13th century. References to traditional manners of declamation are maintained throughout the work and may explain the composer’s choice for such an extensive text basis that the music simply follows in chronological fashion. The process of awakening that the poem describes is interpreted in the two voices’ continuous opening towards polyphony and complex harmonic perception, as if the narrator learns to reclaim the external world that he describes as emanations of his own inner state of mind. The biggest portion of the score is treated as a quasiimprovised structure where the tempo may be chosen more or less freely, and a certain difficulty of coordination between both performers will take part in intended the qualities of declamation. Certain pitches and fundamentals bear symbolic meaning, such as the eccentric F sharp – signifying the “annihilation” of the narrator’s separating ego; B as a pitch (and key) that, in the tonal Western tradition, has been used as a symbol of (physical) death; and the key of C as signifying the realm of earthly existence, among others. Remarkably Ibn Arabi plays with his language, such as with the “palm branches” at the end of the fourth double-verse – that, in Arabic, sound similar to the narrator’s “annihilation”. (S. Pohlit)



Ulrike Mayer-Spohn (UMS) : recorder, electronics
Javier Hagen (JIP)
: countertenor, tenor, electronics
Ums 'n Jip : production