Andreas Meitzners åbningstale ved Festival of Wonder, Jysk Musikteater, Silkeborg - opførelse Moondogforstør billede (© Peter Birk)
Kære Ulla Dengsø, kære Gitte Willumssen, kære Steen Vindum
Mine damer og herrer
Det er mig en stor ære og glæde at være her i Silkeborg i aften og at byde jer alle sammen velkommen til årets Festival of Wonder.
Today`s launch of the international Festival of Wonder with a grand production of the Schauspielhaus Bochum is an auspicious moment that reaches back into history and reminds us of the German poet and dramatist Heinrich von Kleist. In 1810, Kleist published his essay “on the marionette theatre”, in which he expressed his deepest admiration for the “natural grace” of the puppet movements. Reflecting on the art of puppetry he even stated, and I quote: “that we must eat again of the tree of knowledge in order to return to the state of innocence” of these puppet movements.
For more than 30 years now, the Silkeborg puppet theater festival has stimulated the senses and sparked the imagination of its visitors, old and young alike. By gathering some of the most innovative and exciting puppeteers, performers and musicians from Denmark and abroad, the festival has helped to revive the fascinating art of puppetry, that already Kleist was so fond of, and to combine it with other artistic genres. This year’s theme of “crossing borders” is especially fitting. An exploration of the program reveals that the boundaries of traditional arts will again be crossed in many diverse ways; in the following three days we will have the joy of experiencing puppet, object, and visual theater combined with drama, live music and dance performances.
I am particularly pleased that tonight’s opening will feature the Scandinavian premiere of the performative concert “Moondog: The Viking of 6th Avenue” by the Schauspielhaus Bochum. There is much to be said about the life and work of Louis Thomas Hardin, the blind composer, musician and poet who became to be known as Moondog. But it is his music that best expresses the many facets of his life story and the complex character of his work. Like the theme of this year’s festival, Moondog was a traveler between the worlds, who both crossed geographical borders – by moving from Kansas to New York and later in his life to the German city of Münster – and also transcended the conventional boundaries of musical styles. In many of his works, we can hear his great passion for Johann Sebastian Bach and the classical European counterpoint merge with the harmony and rhythm of jazz and swing.
When Moondog in an interview in 1998, one year before his death, was asked where the characteristic rhythm in his composition style came from, it was however another musical tradition he referred to:
I'm into swing. I get that from the American Indians like the Sioux, the Arapahoe and the Apache. They have this drum-beat, heart-beat. Bom, bom, bom. They had the walking beat, which is slower, and the running beat, which is faster.
Moondog integrated all these different influences –from the Great Plains, the streets of New York or European concert halls – into something new and beautiful. I would like to think of this as a metaphor; a metaphor for the great potential that lies in listening to other people’s music, histories and beliefs and in the dialogue between different cultures. By sharing our own experiences with other people, we have the chance to enrichen our own world.
This does not mean or require that we lose our own melodies, cultures and traditions, but that they begin to communicate with others. This is the main principle of the counterpoint, so strictly followed by Bach and Moondog alike. While the separate voices unfold in independent rhythms, contours and melodies, together they form a polyphonic harmony.
Dear guests, just like this night wouldn’t be possible without the successful cooperation of organizers, musicians and artists from various fields of work and different countries, Moondog’s music wouldn’t have had the same appeal without the experience he made in different cultural contexts. If we cross the boundaries of the fields that we already know, take for granted or call our home, we can discover new perspectives – not least on ourselves.
As such, I wish us all a fantastic evening and for those who are fortunate to participate in the whole festival, three days full of wonders. Let us wonder about the stories that are told. Let us wonder about the questions the different performances might raise. And let us wonder about the strange magic that theater and music can create.