Folk comes to The Broad Stage

Internationally acclaimed Basiani, the state ensemble of Georgian folk singing, made an appearance as part of the Global Series at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica much to the delight of lovers of traditional Georgian polyphony choral music.  It was their Westside debut.

It was a melodic evening of creative folk songs and traditional hymns led by artistic director George Donadze and director Zurab Tskrialashvili, also members of the 12-men chorus.

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This 16 year old ensemble was created under the blessing of his holiness and Beatutude llia II, Catholicos-Partriarch of all Georgia to perform and promote Georgian Traditional Polyphony at home and abroad.

It became the Folk Ensemble of Georgian Patriarhchate  and is part of the Patriarchate Choir of Tbilisi Holy Trinity (Sameba) Cathedral which participates in services conducted by the Patriarch.

Three years ago, they were given a title of The State Ensemble of Georgian Folk Singing by the government of Georgia.

Basiani, the name of one of the regions in Southwest Georgia (in what is now modern-day Turkey), is composed of singers from different parts of Georgia, many of which have been singing the traditional style since childhood.  Their repertoire consists of the oldest folk songs and traditional religious hymns from all parts of Georgia and diverse Monastery Chanting Schools.  They research and revive songs from ancient archive phonological and notated recordings.

Basiani has recorded and released nine albums, of which one has been exclusively published by Ocora Radio France in 2012 to spread Georgian Polyphony all around the world.

Some of the highlights of the program.

Orira, a yodeling song (which in Georgia is called krimanchuli) where the singer had to be impeccable and precise in his delivery to harmonize with the background vocalists.  Another folk song, Shavi Shashvi (a hunters’ song), was another extremely challenging piece where the singer had to sustain the sound of a black thrush bird.

Tsmidao Gmerto (“O, Holy God”) was a beautiful hymn of liturgy and Saidumio Utskho da Didebuli, another hymn sung by a trio, evoked mystery and sounded glorious.

Steven Lieberman
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Steven LIeberman is a veteran sports/arts/entertainment journalist. Lieberman has covered entertainment and professional sports, Including the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, for the past 14 years. Among his entertainment work, Lieberman covers concerts, theatre and events.