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Live! At the Library: Alilo’s Vocal Harmonies from Georgia

Head and shoulders view of six men, the members of Alilo

Georgian vocal ensemble Alilo. Publicity photo courtesy of the group. Compositing work by Stephen Winick

Way back in 2022, after the Homegrown Plus Premiere series from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress was over, we managed to squeeze one more concert into the Homegrown 2022 season. With support from The Embassy of Georgia and The America-Georgia Business Council, we held a live a cappella holiday concert in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress. The group was Alilo, a well known professional vocal ensemble from (you guessed it!) the country of Georgia. This blog presents the concert video, along with photos and links to more Georgian content.

Founded in 2000, Alilo performs a repertoire that  includes sacred and folk music dating from Georgia’s ancient past, reflecting the diverse musical regions within the country. They also interpret more modern “old town songs” from the early 20th century. Alilo has traveled widely within Georgia and internationally. Normally, the group has six members, but bass singer Saba Kemularia could not make the trip for logistical reasons. The members who sang for us in the Coolidge were Archil Beridze, George Davitiani, Lasha Glonti, Mikheil Chonishvili, and Aleksandre Kobakhidze.

Three men sing; one of them plays a guitar

Georgian vocal group Alilo performs in the Coolidge Auditorium on December 1, 2022. Photo by Stephen Winick.

 

The group’s name derives from special songs widely sung throughout Georgia as part of Christmas celebrations. Dating back more than a thousand years, this holiday song tradition was suppressed during the Soviet period but has regained popularity since Georgia became independent in 1991.

The Library of Congress was honored to have David Zalkaliani, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, in the house to say a few words before the concert.

Five men and one woman sing

Georgian vocal group Alilo performs with special guest Thea Austen in the Coolidge Auditorium on December 1, 2022. Photo by Stephen Winick.

Also noteworthy was the fact that Alilo invited a very special guest onstage to sing with them: Theadocia Austen, the public events coordinator here at the American Folklife Center, who is also a fabulous singer. See the concert in the player below!

In case you’ve missed them, I’ll point out that we have several past posts on the blog about Georgian culture. These feature embedded videos of three more concerts, one lecture and performance, and three interviews, as well as links to Georgian content in the collections of the Library of Congress. You can find all of our blog posts about the country of Georgia at this link.

Thanks for watching, listening, reading, and exploring! The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress. For information on current concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress. For past concerts, including links to webcasts and other information, visit the Homegrown Concerts Online Archive.

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