A quartet of the Anchiskhati Choir, the world’s foremost practitioners of Georgian traditional choral music, is visiting Iowa City on February 25–26. The visit is the first stop of a US tour connected with a symposium at Yale University.
According to John Graham of Yale University, “members of the Anchiskhati Choir come from different regions of Georgia where they have absorbed the unique singing traditions of their parents and grandparents. Singing weekly in the famous sixth-century Anchiskhati church in Tbilisi, Georgia, the group collaborates as a group of expert and passionate ethnomusicologists, who teach, hold workshops and regularly perform in Georgia and abroad.” Since 1988, the group has been at the forefront of a revival of Georgian traditional three-voice chant, which was eradicated at the beginning of the twentieth century. Their chanting is informed by intensive study of original recordings and transcriptions from that period. “The precision of timbre, tuning, and other nuances of authentic practice in an Anchiskhati performance yield an exquisite blend of ethereal Orthodox prayer text with the hearty enthusiasm of the Caucasian folk-singing style.”
On February 25 at 4:30 pm, they will give a lecture-demonstration entitled “An Introduction to Georgian Traditional Music” at the University Capitol Center Recital Hall (1670 UCC) in Old Capitol Town Centre, assisted by Matthew Arndt of the University of Iowa School of Music. That evening at 7:30 pm, the group will give a concert of secular and sacred music featuring traditional instruments at St. Raphael Orthodox Church, 722 East College Street, followed by a reception with Georgian food. Both events are free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted at the concert and reception. On February 26, the singers will visit choruses at three high schools in town: City, West, and Regina.
The invited representatives of the choir are Davit Shughliashvili, Zaal Tsereteli, Levan Veshapidze, and Davit Zatiashvili. The visit is co-sponsored by the University of Iowa School of Music, the University of Iowa Department of Religious Studiesthe University of Iowa Department of Religious Studies, International Programs, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, Arts Share, and the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of the Midwest.