The Rustavi Choir

Folk music is one of the most important elements in the treasure house of Georgian spiritual culture, an aural chronicle of Georgia’s centuries-old history.

The specific geography of Georgia, its historic and social conditions have brought about the development of a number of dialects, both linguistic and musical, that are named after the respective place-names: Kakheti, Kartli, Racha, Svaneti, Megrelia, Imereti, Guria, Ajaria and others. The musical dialects of all those regions differ in rhythm, intonation, texture and harmony, whyle sharing one common feature: poliphonic singing. Georgia folk songs mostly contain three voice-parts. However, four-part labour songs are encountered in Guria and Ajaria. In these parts of Western Georgia a distinctive kind of figurative polyphonic-singing is widespread “krimanchuli” or “gankivani”, a type of yodel.

There are many talented folk groups in Georgia whose common purpose is to revive and preserve Georgian folk music. Perhaps the best known of these is the Rustavi Company, winner of the Z. Paliashvili Prize and honoured Company of the Georgian SSR.

Since 1968 when the group first appeared, it has taken part in many important musical events, in Georgia and in other countries.

In Georgian folk part-songs each voice has its special function, calling for great creative contribution from the singers. Thus all members of the Rustavi Company share equal responsibility, while maintaining and developing their professional skils. The singers of Rustavi have mastered and developed to the utmost extent the unique art of synchronous improvisation which is deversely displayed in the polyphonic songs of different regions of georgia, and particularly, in the polyphonicsongs of Guria. The organizer and leader of the Rustavi Company is Anzor Erkomaishvili, People’s Artist of the Georgian SSR, and Z.Paliashvili Prize Winner. He is not only an excellent vocalist, but also a theoretician, a serious researcher, and the auther of interesting articles and collections of Georgian folk songs.

In 1985 a tragic accident took away the life of one of the best singers, a brilliant performer of kartli-Kakhetian songs, Hamlet Gonashvili, whose unique voice and gift had brought him the title of People’s Artist of the Georgian SSR, and Z.Paliashvili Prize. His death was an irreplaceable loss for the group, and somehow terminated highly important stage in the creative activity of Rustavi, reflected in the phonogram records “60 Georgian Folk Songs” that were produced in 1981. This wonderful anthology of folk songs from all parts of Georgia was awarded the Z. Paliashvili Prize.

Here we would like you to get familiar with some of the most popular Georgian songs:

TSINTSKARO – is one of the brightest examples of Kartli-Kakhetian lyrics, voicing a young lad’s poetic mood.

ODOIA – a monumental antiphonal song, a genuine paeman to labour, sung in the maize fields during weeding and hoeing.

CHELAIA TSIRA – sung to the chonguri this song praises the beauty of a young girl.

LILE – a pagan ritual hymn praising the Sun-Goddess, performed with an elevated spiritual fortitude.

KHASANBEGURA – the song is an extremely complicated one, characterised by contrasting polyphony and improvisational freedom, and requiring virtuoso skill from the performers, especially for the high-pitched “krimanchuli” and “gamkivani”. “Khasanbegura” is sung by a trio accompanied by, or better, contrasted with a group named “gadadzakhili”, which forms an independent musical pattern repeated like a refrain during the whole song. The “gadadzakhili” can be one-two-and three-voiced. In “Khasanbegura” it is two-voiced. The text of “Khasanbegura” related it to the genre of historic songs, although it is clearly of a military marching nature.

KAKHURI MRAVALZHAMIERI – was sung at the beginning of a feast to praise everlasting life in the most elevated, solemn and festive manner. “Mravalzhamieri” is a picturesque reproduction of a ceremony or festival full of ecstasy and ardour.

CHAKRULO – is one of the masterpieces of Georgian folk music. It is full of kind, noble spirit and elevated mood. “Owing to its elaborate scheme of modulation, its complex polyphony, regid architectonics, and rich, festive ornamentation, “Chakrulo” is considered to be a genuinely unique monument of Georgian folk singing, which, at the same time, conveys ethically deep and lofty ideas”.

Comments are closed.