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Stephan Micus's 20th album for ECM, Panagia is released to celebrate the Bavarian multi-instrumentalist/singer's 60th birthday. The Greek word Panagia is one of the names of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ. Micus's album takes six Byzantine Greek prayers and sets them in his own inimitable way with instruments he has collected in years of travels round the world.

The prayers are to the Virgin Mary but Micus has dedicated the CD also to "the female energy that is everywhere in the world. The Chinese have this concept of yin and yang, and keeping the balance between them, which is very important to me. In our time, the male energy has become too overbearing, but in ancient times the gods were predominantly female. In the last 2000 years, the three monotheistic religions have over-emphasised the male aspect. I see this album as a small contribution to changing that status quo."

The album alternates sung poems with instrumental tracks and thus has a clearly symmetrical, even ritualistic, structure. "On Panagia I focussed mainly on strings," explains Micus about the recording, made in his own studio on the island of Mallorca, where he has lived for many years. "The string instruments come from Bavaria, India, Pakistan, and Chinese Xinjiang plus my own invention, a 14-string guitar."

But he emphasizes that his aim is never to replicate other people's music, but to create something new and universal. "There are combinations here that nobody has done before. The Chitrali sitar, Indian dilruba and Uyghur sattar are scattered across a relatively small area, but have never been played together. For me there's a great excitement about that".

Personnel: Stephan Micus (voice, bavarian zither, dilruba, chitrali sitar, sattar, 14-string guitar, nay)


  1. Name
  2. I Praise You, Unfading Rose
  3. You are the Treasure of Life
  4. I Praise You, Lady of Passion
  5. You are the Life-Giving Rain
  6. I Praise You, Sacred Mother
  7. You are like Fragant Incense
  8. I Praise You, Sweet-Smelling Cypress
  9. You are Full of Grace
  10. I Praise You, Shelter of the World
  11. You are a Shining Spring
  12. I Praise You, Cloud of Light
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