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Anchiskhati Choir - Old Tbilisi


The Anchiskhati Choir is the world's leading exponent of Georgian polyphonic choral music. The choir members specialise in singing the ancient Georgian sacred and secular songs, with the authentic instrumental accompaniment, described by the US magazine, The World & I, as "diamonds polished by time" (March 2003).

The unique traditions of polyphonic singing in Georgia began before Christianity, but were incorporated into church worship during the early Middle Ages. Choral singing flourished in the remote mountain monasteries. The Anchiskhati Choir has researched the age-old carols and hymns that celebrated Easter, Christmas and Harvest festivals and has recorded them with a "glorious exuberance and spirituality".

The secular music is equally remarkable. These folk songs celebrate every aspect of village life - hunting, feasting, courtship, marriage, funerals and lullabies. They are performed within an unfamiliar but haunting harmonic mode, and demand exotic vocal techniques, such as Krimanchuli, a kind of yodelling, from Western Georgia.

The members of the Anchiskhati Choir come from different regions of Georgia and have absorbed the traditions of this unique musical sound world from their parents and grandparents, as well as from listening to the singing in the villages. But they are all expert musicians and passionate ethno-musicologists, who teach, hold workshops and regularly perform at the 6th Century Anchiskhati Church in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Malkhaz Erkvanidze the leader of Anchiskhati Choir since 1988, is a world authority on Georgian polyphonic choral music. He has spent his life rescuing the church hymns and prayers that were suppressed under Soviet communism. His four books of Georgian hymns have been published with CDs; and he has written many articles about the distinctive musical structure of Georgian polyphony. He leads the "Dzveli Kiloebi" or Old Modes group within the Anchiskhati choir, dedicated to preserving the authentic Georgian tuning system with the traditional singing styles. He teaches at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire, the State Seminary and the Academy of Theology; and is the consultant to the Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia the Second, on liturgical chant. He plays several stringed folk instruments, including the Chonguri, Panduri and Chuniri, to accompany the choir. With Anzor Erkomaishvili from the Rustavi Choir, Malkhaz Erqvanidze is a founder member of the International Centre for Georgian Folk Music, which now has branches and members world-wide. He is married with two children and loves playing jazz on the piano.
Dato Zatiashvili was born in 1970 in Tbilisi. He studied at the Tbilisi music school and conservatoire, from which he graduated as a pianist. He has since worked as a music teacher and since 1988, has been singing with the Anchiskhati Choir. He sings first voice and Krimanchuli. He is married with two children and is an avid collector of classical music Cds.
Koba Beriashvili grew up in Tbilisi and studied as a cartographer in the Faculty for Geography and Geology in Tbilisi University. But his love of choral music and singing gradually became his primary passion. He has been a tenor soloist in the Tbilisi State Ensemble since 1994 and a soloist with the Anchiskhati Choir since 1997. He is single and loves travelling, exploring and walking long distances.

Gocha Balavadze studied as a painter and visual artist at the Applied Arts School in Tbilisi and is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts (from the Faculty of Painting). He has sung with leading Georgian church choirs since 1993 and he joined the Anchiskhati Choir in 1999. He is married with three children and their family pleasure lies in singing together and in listening to singing.

Grigor Bulia was born in Zugdidi, Georgia, and graduated from the Tbilisi Theatre Institute as a stage and film actor. He worked with the famous Rustaveli Company in Tbilisi, but left to study theology at the Tbilisi Spritiual Academy, from which he graduated in 1994. He has sung bass with the Anchiskhati Choir since 1992 and since 1996, he has been the head of the St. George School. He is married.
Vasil Tsetskhladze was born in 1955 in Pzurgeti. He studied at music school and graduated friom the Batumi Music College as a pianist. He has since worked as a music teacher and graduated from the Tbilisi Music Conservatoire as a conductor of choirs. He sings first and second voices; and plays the panduri, chonguri and doli. He is married with two children. His hobbies include cycling and Georgian dancing.
Zaal Tsereteli was born in Tbilisi in 1962. He studied as a pianist at music school and graduated from the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematrics at Tbilisi University with a Honours Degree. He has worked as a computer programmer and as a science researcher. He has sung with the Anchiskhati Choir since 1988, first and second voices. He is married with four children; and plays football and table-tennis.

Dato Shugliashvili is a renowned singer, musician, ethno-musicologist and Member of the Composers Union of Georgia. He studied at the Tbilisi Conservatoire as an ethno-musicologist. He has sung with the Anchiskhati Choir since 1988. In 2002, he published a collection of Georgian Church Hymns, based on his research into the different chanting schools of Georgia. He teaches at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire and sings Georgian city songs to the guitar. His mother was a famous Georgian folk singer and songwriter; and he has two children.
Levan Veshapidze comes from the Georgian province of Guria, a region whose singing is distinctive for the "Krimanchuli" yodelling technique, of which he is the world's leading exponent. He sings with the St. Mary Choir in Tbilisi as well as with the Anchiskhati Choir.; and shares with his fellow choir members a passionate love for ethnomusicology, particularly the "Dzveli Kiloebi" or Old Modes styles. He has published a collection of fifty Georgian songs with an accompanying CD and he plays several wind instruments, including the Chiboni, an ancient bagpipe, and the clarinet, which he studied at the Tbilisi Music School. He is married with three children and adores listening to the music of J.S. Bach.
Mamuka Kiknadze trained as a musician and singer at the Music Academy in Tbilisi. He studied as an architect at the Tbilisi Architectural Institute and worked in the Research Institute for the restoration of Georgian architectural monuments. He is the conductor of the Church choir at Iveria Icon of the Virgin Mary; and is an architect for the Georgian Orthodox Church. He is married with three children and his hobby is woodcarving.
David Megrelidze was an athlete who played basketball and trained at a sports academy. He studied architecture at the Tbilisi Polytechnic Institute, where he became a professor and architectural designer. Unlike the other members of the choir, he has no formal musical training, but his remarkable singing voice drew him towards the church choirs in Tbilisi, where he now sings with the Church of the Iveria Icon of Virgin Mary and with the Anchiskhati Choir. He loves classical music, jazz and folk songs from all over the world. He is married with two daughters and his hobbies include sports, games and mountain bike riding.

Gocha Giogadze was born in the little village of Ianeuli in Georgia and studied at the Economic Faculty of Tbilisi University. He is a passionate painter of icons and studied iconography at the Patriarchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church. He is a tenor who also plays the Chonguri, a stringed instrument. He is single and loves football.

Georgian choral polyphony is unique within world music. It consists of three main styles - chanting, singing and humming. In church chanting, three separate melodies are brought together within a modal harmonic structure, a tradition that was current in the seventh century AD, three hundred years before polyphony developed in other parts of Europe. The seven-member ensemble, Dzveli Kiloeb (Old Modes), has been developed within the Anchiskhati Choir to research and perform this ancient music.

The roots of church chanting lay in the secular music that pre-dates Christianity and survives today in the folk music of the Georgian regions. The songs and dance music relate to the circumstances of village life - the weddings, funerals, lullabies, harvest and hunting songs - and contain vocal techniques, such as Krimanchuli (a kind of yodelling), unique to Georgia. The Anchiskhati Choir researched and now perform the songs; and are expert players of the rare Georgian folk instruments.

The Anchiskhati Church dates from the sixth century AD and is the oldest Orthodox church in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia. Its name derives from "the sacred icon (khati) of Anchi" (a community or tribe); and it has been a centre for Georgian culture since the Middle Ages. But under Soviet communism, church music was prohibited in Georgia for three generations, but in 1989, Malkhaz Erkvanidze and members of the Anchiskhati choir researched and revived the hymns in their appropriate settings.

Alain Romax, the ethno-musicologist, has asserted that Georgia is the capital of world folk music, the source from which folk traditions elsewhere in Europe have stemmed. But the choral music in Georgia has developed beyond what is normally understood to be folk music. The Easter hymns of the Gurian-Imeretian mode are symphonic in their scope and structure; and Chakrulo was chosen for the space shuttle, Explorer, to be sent into space as an outstanding example of human civilization.

Programmes: The programmes of the Anchiskhati Choir consist of:

    * Secular and folk songs from different regions of Georgia
    * Georgian church music
    * Mixed secular and sacred songs

The programmes can be discussed in advance with the promoters; and usually include instrumental solos and accompaniments on traditional Georgian instruments.

Workshops: With their recitals, members of the Anchiskhati Choir offer workshops to encourage singers with or without formal training to discover the pleasures of choral singing in the Georgian style. They offer:

    * Workshops for the general public, where the songs are taught orally and often without notation, although sheet music can be provided
    * Workshops for choirs, particularly but not exclusively for those with some knowledge of Georgian music
    * Workshops for schools and educational establishments


Changi - a triangular harp, from the Svaneti region, which is claimed in legend to have derived directly from David's biblical harp.
Chiboni - a bagpipe made from goatskin, from the Ajara region in Western Georgia.    
Gudastviri - a goatskin bagpipe from Racha, in the Caucasus mountains.
Panduri - a three-stringed plucked instrument, from Eastern Georgia.
Chonguri - a larger, three stringed plucked instrument, with a fourth fixed stringed that plays a high drone, from Western Georgia.

Add to Cart:

  • Model: Audio CD
  • Artist: Anchiskhati Choir
  • Music Genre: Folk

This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 04 December, 2012.

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