Human beings have an irrepressible need for stories. To tell them and to hear them. Indeed, a life without stories is no life at all. That is why, for as long as humans have existed, stories have gone around the world. They cut across all cultures, continents and strata of society. Often, ancient narratives from different corners of our planet also correspond in content. Oral stories, written stories, visual stories ... it is an inexhaustible amount.
Our earliest childhood begins with stories. They are told or read to us. Ideally, in a reassuring environment in the no-man's land between waking and sleeping.
Stories push boundaries, they comfort or make us wince. In our young minds, imagination is thus stimulated, developed and we learn to distinguish between reality and fiction. In the process, the absurd can be totally believable in stories.
Stories can help us get a grip on an elusive world. This is how myths, sagas and legends, Biblical tales, and fairy tales came into being. And to avoid repetition, we should also remember the bitter stories of war, injustice and inhumanity and therefore keep telling them.
Lying the truth
In language, 'the story' is between truth on one side and fabrications, lies and fantasies on the other. When we say 'don't hang up stories', we mean 'don't trick me, or 'don't lie to me'. But when we say 'tell me the whole story', we are asking for the full truth. Or if we want to debunk something, we say 'it's just a story'. Something we find implausible is a 'strong story'. A story can lie the truth.
In an interesting conversation on storytelling between influential writers John Berger and Susan Sontag, the two differ. Berger believes: 'A story is always a reassuring operation, a shelter against the absurd, against the endless terrifying space we live in.' Sontag counters: 'Storytelling enlarges the field of our imagination and introduces us to the absurd.' Some seek protection against the absurd; others find it precisely in stories. Is it possible to do both?
Magical fusion of lyrics and music
Who does not long for the security in which the first stories came to us, the way our young brains could give fantasy free rein? Who doesn't want to dwell in that exciting twilight zone between fiction and reality? Don't we all want to understand ourselves and the world better? The magical fusion of text and music, makes songs a moving and intense medium to satisfy those desires. The theme of the 2024 festival is therefore: tell, tell, tell!
Since ancient times, humans have used music, poetic recitation and dance to make the experience of a story more intense, to make it more palatable to tell, or simply to make it easier to remember and pass on. Look at Homeric verses, the ballads of troubadours, folk songs, as well as declamations by Schumann, Liszt and Schönberg.
Internationaal Lied Festival Zeist 2024
From Friday 17 to Sunday 26 May 2024, we will therefore explore knight's tales and courtly love, religious stories and myths and sagas. We will hear tales of war and peace. And of course colourful fairy tales are not missing, such as the tales from One Thousand and One Nights.
Listen and tell with us!
Henk Neven & Hans Eijsackers