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.
Welcome to the Homegrown Plus series, in which we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We're continuing the series with Ranina Quartet, a music ensemble from the Republic of Georgia. The Ranina Quartet was created out of a love for Georgian traditional music, including urban songs, folk songs, and chants. The current members include Tornike Kandelaki (first voice), Soso Kopaleishvili (second voice), Saba Peikrishvili (baritone), and Beka Kemularia (bass). They have been singing since they were little children, and individual members have performed in many ensembles. The quartet's repertoire includes classic pieces from various genres including Georgian traditional folk songs, liturgical chants, and popular songs. We follow the concert video with two interviews, one with Ranina member Soso Kopaleishvili and the other with ethnomusicologist John A. Graham.
In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We're continuing the series with the Ialoni Ensemble. This women's vocal and instrumental group was formed in 2009 in Tbilisi in the country of Georgia. Ialoni's repertoire draws from all three branches of traditional Georgian vocal polyphony: ecclesiastical, folk, and city music. The group selects its repertoire from archival records and manuscripts, field recordings, and published transcriptions, with a special emphasis on reviving relatively unusual, original, and complex songs. They greatly value the character of different chanting schools, as well as the folk and city songs, originating from different regions, taking the time to comprehend them intimately and then bringing them to life with the ensemble’s own signature style. In the interview you'll hear about the different types of Georgian polyphonic singing and the repertoires of religious songs, folk songs, and urban songs. We spoke about how Georgians typically learn this music, and where and when they sing and play it. We discuss the concept behind their beautiful concert video as well. We even got a demonstration of some of their favorite instruments. Watch both videos, and find interesting links to more Georgian content, in this post!
Georgian polyphonic singing has a rich and ancient past. It predates Christianity and its pre-Christian roots are alive today in secular songs such as lullabies, harvest, hunting, and wedding songs. The Christian songs survived a dark time while Georgia was part of the Soviet Union, as the tradition was banned from 1921 to 1990. Monks …