City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Secular and Spiritual Music from Georgia


By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 16 August 2008

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Venue: 
Greyfriars Kirk
Company: 
Anchiskhati Choir
Running time: 
60mins
Performers: 
Members of the Anchiskhati Choir

Georgian sacred and folk music is quite distinctive. Unlike European and other a cappella songs, their harmonies sound discordant at times, but that is what makes their music so unique.

In this concert, the Anchiskhati Choir - which takes its name form the Anchiskhati Basilica, the capital Tbilisi's oldest church where they sing regularly - performed a range of songs from a variety of Georgian regions, each having their own individualistic sounds.

When we were introduced to the choir, which is composed of eleven singers, we were told that singing is an integral part of Georgian culture. A therapeutic remedy, it soothes the psyche when times get difficult, as they now are in that country.

Georgian music is mainly polyphonic - composed of music in parts each with an independent melody - and dates back to the early days of Christianity. The arrangements and harmonies of the songs are extremely complex. The selection of songs included quite a few with soloists and incorporated yodelling and unusual folk instruments such as the "chiboni," a goatskin bagpipe from the West, and the "chonguri," a four-string unfretted lute again from Western Georgia. Playing to a packed audience, the marvellous singing resounded resplendently throughout the church.