SACRED SONGS FESTIVAL in the Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague

21st November – 4th December.

Festival Sacred Songs exhibits the beauty and eloquence of spiritual music, poetry and rituals. The third edition of Festival Sacred Songs, with a brand new set-up, will take place from 21st November to 4th December. The festival is built up of several program lines, each telling their own story through concerts, workshops, films, lectures and meetings with artists. The overall program consists of both local and international artists, upcoming talent and famous ensembles, presenting both known and unknown styles of music. Among others, there are names which resound such as Ghalia Benali, Tallis Scholars, Trio Merope, Wishful Singing, Stine Jensen and Kalpanarts. 

Musical richness behind spiritual diversity in The Netherlands

Festival Sacred Songs participates in the religious and spiritual diversity that characterizes today’s society. As well as active religious communities, there are a growing number of people who choose to practice religion in an individual manner. They seek spirituality in a conscious way of living with a focus on the here and now, in harmony with each other, nature and the cosmos. The festival shows the musical richness behind this diversity and focuses on the expressiveness and aesthetics of inspired music, poetry and rituals.

Program Festival Sacred Songs 2020

The festival is built up of several program lines, each telling their own topical story, through concerts in the Nieuwe Kerk and a series of fringe programs representing the various cultural expressions, in the Zuiderstrandtheater, De Vaillant and De Nieuwe Regentes in The Hague. 

SUFI SPIRIT   Saturday, 21st November

Sufi Spirit exhibits the important role of music, poetry and rituals in Sufism. This mystical movement within Islam stands for peace and equality between different religions and philosophies of life. The charismatic Belgian-Tunisian singer Ghalia Benalipresents the program ‘Hadret Ishq’: an anthology of the rich repertoire of Sufi poets through the ages. In addition to texts of medieval poets such as Djalal al-Din Rumi, she sings poetry of contemporary mystics. Ghalia Benali masters repertoire from the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Indian classical vocal, jazz and pop. She switches effortlessly between different genres and cultural traditions and is renowned for her intense renditions of Sufi poetry and classical songs by Um Kulthum. Her magical voice and passionate performances have awarded her the nickname “Aretha Franklin of Carthage”.


Meditation pays attention to music that enraptures the listener and refers to reflection and introspection. The Tallis Scholars is a critically acclaimed British choir who belong to the top performers of vocal music from the period between 1450 and 1600. Their concert is dedicated to the ‘golden age of Spanish polyphony’ with works by composers such as Guerrero, Alonso Lobo and Tomás Luis de Victoria.

SACRED NATURE   Saturday, 28th November

Sacred Nature focuses on the primal bond between spirituality and nature, which finds expression in many stories, folk music and rituals. What can we learn from the spiritual texts and wisdom in these cultural expressions? 

In an exclusive concert with live VJ, Trio Meropepays tribute to the nature and the night. Merope consists of Lithuanian singer, kankles(Baltic harp) player Indre Jurgeviliciute, guitarist Bert Coolsand flutist Jean-Christophe Bonnafous. Their songs tell of the spiritual connection between nature and man and are inspired by ancient Lithuanian folk traditions. 

For Festival Sacred Songs, the trio is teaming up with Petites Planètes, a collective consisting of the French experimental filmmakers Vincent Moonand Priscilla Telmon (known for their video clips for artists such as R.E.M., Arcade Fire, Tom Jones and The Ex). Over the past ten years they have been traveling around the world to film rituals, sacred music and shamanic practices. In the concert, the powerful, captivating images and hypnotic sounds from their films combine perfectly with the meditative, enchanting music of Merope.

WOMEN’S VOICES     Sunday, 29th November

Women’s Voices puts the spotlight on remarkable female performers who bring spiritual stories and music to life in a dazzling performance including vocals, dance, spoken word and philosophical reflections. 

The focus is on women’s voices from the past and the present: poetry, lyrics and music by and about female free-thinkers, innovators and connectors. In this new production curated by Festival Sacred Songs, Wishful Singing presents the repertoire of medieval power women including Kassia (810-867) and Hildegard von Bingen (1207-1291), and contemporary composers such as Mathilde Wantenaar. Especially for this production, Wishful Singing is collaborating with spoken word artist Siela Ardjosemito-Jethoe, philosopher Stine Jensen and the groundbreaking dance company Kalpanarts.


The Real Experienceoffers a glimpse behind the scenes of vibrant religious communities and brings religious music with supreme inspiration. Leo Davelaar is the founder and passionate conductor of the G-project choir. The members of this choir represent different cultures and Christian communities and come from the Rotterdam-The Hague region. They perform black gospel and have one mission: to convey a message of hope, happiness and encouragement. The singers of G-Project interpret the gospel songs with passion and persuasion and perform all over the country, both in church services and at cultural festivals.

For further information on the program series, timetables and tickets see |

Festival Sacred Songs is an initiative of the Zuiderstrandtheater and the Culture Connection foundation. The program has been developed in collaboration with partners from The Hague, including De Vaillant, De Nieuwe Regentes and Initiatives of Change. Jeanneke den Boer is the festival curator. Earlier, the festival took place in 2016 and 2018. The festival has been made possible thanks to the Municipality of The Hague, VSB Fonds and BankGiroLoterij Fonds, among others.