The Choral Tales Project

a vibrant journey toward healing, unity and peace through the arts

”an important and indeed vital project” — Ervin Laszlo, nominee for Nobel Peace Prize

eye-popping delicious ... immensely rich and beneficial” — Laura Simms, Author and Storyteller

Cat's Protector (Tanzania).jpg

Inspiring folk tales from around the world, presented in original music and dance,
building bridges across cultures, celebrating the diversity and oneness of humankind

“a total delight for the eyes, for the ears, and for the heart!”
”It brought tears of joy to feel the positive energies expressed
in these brief masterpieces.”
— Leonard Mehlmauer

Welcome to Choral Tales! The four videos below briefly introduce our project. Further down, enjoy our first short films presenting Choral Tales performances, based on stories from China, Scotland and Tanzania.

We plan to produce tales from many more cultures, to provide a cross section of humanity’s wonderful diversity.

Click here for an Overview of this ongoing project, directed by composer Ludwig Tuman.

If you are a teacher or group discussion leader, please see our “Get Involved!” page.


Ten participating artists briefly describe the Choral Tales experience — the Project, the Stories, the Music, and the Dances.

The Project: “Choral Tales brings people and cultures together.”

The Stories: “I believe these stories will inspire people all over the world.”

The Music: “Are the pieces fun to sing? Absolutely!”

The Dances: “Combining dance, singing and story telling is a brilliant idea.”

Choral Tales: Three Short Films

Music and Artistic Direction by Ludwig Tuman
Choral Conductor: Jonathan Talberg
Choreographers: Anindo Marshall,
Jingqiu Guan, Sherene Melania

- based on a folk tale from Tanzania

This playful tale re-defines power as loving service to others, and highlights the power of women. A version of the story is published as “The Cat Who Came Indoors” in the book, Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folk Tales.

Summary ~ A wild cat in the savannah feels small and vulnerable, and decides to look for protection from a powerful animal. She starts by befriending a lion, but before long the lion is frightened away by an even more powerful elephant. So she befriends the elephant, but eventually the elephant is frightened away by a man’s rifle shots. So the cat befriends the man and follows him to his home. But there, a woman (his wife) welcomes him, takes his rifle and puts it away. To the cat’s surprise, everyone wants to be around the woman, for her power comes not from intimidation and the threat of violence but from loving service. So the cat decides the woman is the strongest of creatures, and keeps her company from then on.

See full story and choral text here.

(See other videos further down.)

2. LORD OF THE CRANES - based on a folk tale from China

A touching story exploring the rewards of kindness and generosity.

(Click “CC” in playbar to see English Subtitles)

Summary ~ The Lord of the Cranes is an immortal, named Xian.  He lives in the heavens on misty mountain tops.  One day, Xian decides to take the pulse of humanity.  Mounted on a crane, he flies with his flock down to the valley.  In the city, the first thing he does is give his warm silken robes to a man shivering in the cold, in exchange for the man’s clothes.  Now dressed as a person without means, Xian is treated by everyone with contempt.  Eventually, he meets a kind inn keeper, who takes him in and gives him food and shelter, day after day, and asks for nothing in return.  Xian rewards him by painting three magical cranes on the inn’s wall.  Whenever customers sing and clap, the cranes come to life, jump off the wall, and dance.  And this brings the inn keeper a lot of business and wealth, which he uses to bring more people into his care.  One day the inn keeper finally asks Xian who he really is, and asks him for advice. Xian responds by pulling a flute out of his robes and playing a melody of heaven.  He advises the inn keeper to teach others to be kind.  Then, mounting a crane, he flies with his flock back into the heavens.

See full story and choral text here.

3. THE HAPPY MAN’S SHIRT - based on a folk tale from Scotland/UK

This delightful tale shows how lasting happiness is not found in wealth, material consumption, power, or status, but comes from within.

(Click “CC” in playbar to see English Subtitles)

The story is found in various countries of Europe, and also in Africa and India.  The version selected here is found in Scotland, United Kingdom. 

Summary ~ A king has every comfort and luxury but is still dissatisfied.  Though he is surrounded by a wonderful queen and daughters, and has immense wealth and power, nothing brings him satisfaction.  The wise men advise him that to regain his happiness he must find a truly happy man and wear his shirt for a day.  So the king sets out, dressed as a common man, and wanders the kingdom looking for such a person.  But he finds all the dwellers of his kingdom to be unhappy in one way or another.  Finally one day he meets a man fishing by a brook.  The man invites the king to eat with him, and is full of joy and gratitude for the beauty in his life.  The king realizes he has found a happy man and reveals to him his true identity.  The happy man looks over the king’s rags, then looks at his own rags, and they burst into laughter.  The king asks for the man’s shirt, but finds he doesn’t even have a shirt under his coat, and they laugh even harder.  His happiness restored, the king invites the man to return with him and stay in his castle.

See full story and choral text here.

© Ludwig Tuman 2018