Ensemble Basiani Brings Centuries-Old Choral Tradition to New York's Town Hall
Master performers in Georgia's ancient polyphony tradition, Ensemble Basiani sings religious hymns, monastic chants, epic ballads, and folk and work songs from its Eastern European homeland
“The stellar Ensemble Basiani...exquisitely rendered... hauntingly beautiful.” — New York Times
“World-music fans won’t want to miss this group, which specializes in extraordinary male harmonizing and makes Georgian vocal music thrilling and spiritually moving.” – Los Angeles Times
"Bright, crisp voices" – The Wall Street Journal
"A near psychedelic groove of unusual harmonies, rhythmic intensity and sheer beauty" – The Herald Tribune
SEPTEMBER 20, 2016 – NEW YORK, NY – Ensemble Basiani, the State Ensemble of Georgian Folk Singing, brings masterworks of the choral traditions of their ancient country to life on stage in New York for one-night only at TheTown Hall on Thursday, October 27th at 8pm. Singing in three-voiced polyphony harking back to the 10th century and wearing all-traditional costumes, Basiani provides a unique opportunity to hear authentically rendered masterworks from a noble choral tradition, full of complex harmonies and colorful melodies, presented by the foremost authorities of the genre.
This will be the first appearance by Ensemble Basiani in New York since they performed for sold-out crowds at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2012 and at Mostly Mozart in 2010, a concert the New York Times included in their list of best performances of the year and wrote, “Audiences were wowed by singing of a very different kind when the Basiani Ensemble from the Republic of Georgia offered a program of haunting, harmonically striking sacred and secular works.”
Georgian polyphonic song is the world’s oldest polyphonic musical tradition. The genre evolved from Byzantine and early Christian traditions, transforming into sacred and secular music in communities all over Georgia. Igor Stravinsky was fascinated by it, as were visionaries Alan Lomax and Werner Herzog. It is unlike any other traditional music in the world, with unique scales and voice structures, and unexpected progressions.
Ensemble Basiani – created in 2000 to promote Georgian Traditional Polyphony at home and abroad – performs the rich heritage of religious hymns, monastic chants, epic ballads, and folk and work songs from its Eastern European homeland. The ensemble researches and revives music from past recordings, while studying songs directly with famous singers and working extensively with esteemed ethnomusicologists. Ensemble Basiani is led by director Zurab Tskrialashvili. The Town Hall appearance is part of a North American tour which includes stops in Berkeley, at Stanford and in Santa Monica, and Santa Barbara, CA; as well as at the University of Texas in Austin and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
About Ensemble Basiani
Ensemble Basiani was founded in 2000 under the blessing of his Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia and became the Folk Ensemble of Georgian Patriarchate. The Ensemble is part of the Patriarchate Choir of Tbilisi Holy Trinity (Sameba) Cathedral which participates in services conducted by the Patriarch. Ensemble Basiani is composed of singers from different parts of Georgia. Most members come from families that perform traditional singing and many members have sung folk songs in different ensembles since childhood. In 2013, Basiani was given a title of The State Ensemble of Georgian Folk Singing by the government of Georgia.
Ensemble’s repertoire consists of the oldest folk songs and traditional Religious Hymns from all parts of Georgia and divers Monastery Chanting Schools. It completes the program by researching and reviving songs from ancient archive phonological and notated recordings, or study songs directly from famous singers and conductors of older generations active in different regions of Georgia. Basiani has recorded and released nine different albums, including one exclusively published by Ocora Radio France in 2012 to spread Georgian Polyphony all around the world. The Ensemble’s most recent recording, the four-disc set 102 Georgian Folk Songs and Traditional Hymns was published in 2013, and is Basiani’s landmark work.
Basiani Ensemble has performed at numerous international festivals and visited some 20 countries, giving performances in some of the world’s most well-known concert halls and international festivals, including Auditorio Nacional de Musica (Madrid), the Gulbenkian Great Hall (Lisbon), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Aldeburgh Music Festival (England), Allice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kilkenny Arts Festival (Ireland), and others.
Basiani is the name of one of the regions in Southwest Georgia (in what is now modern-day Turkey, northwest of the town of Erzurum). In 1203, Georgian royal troops defeated the Conqueror there with the victory consolidating Georgia’s position in Asia Minor.
1. Mravalzhamier – long life, Kakhetian Table song
2. Orira – traveling song, Guria (yodeling)
3. Tu ase turpa ikavi – lyric-love song, accompanied by traditional string instrument panduri
4. Circle dance – Svaneti
5. Shavi shashvi – hunters’ song, Guria region
6. Tsmidao gmerto – O, Holy God, religious hymn
7. Saidumlo utskho da didebuli – A mystery, strange and most glorious, religious hymn
8. Tkveta ganmatavisuflebelo – As the deliverer of the captives, religious hymn
9. Motsikuli kristesagan gamorcheuli – Apostol Distinguished by Christ, religious hymn
10. Akebdit sakhelsa uplisasa – Praise Ye the Name of God, religious hymn
11. Sashot mtiebisa – Out of the Womb, religious hymn
12. Imeruli naduri – work song, Imereti (Western Georgia)
13. Tsintskaro – lyric-love song, Kakheti region
14. Gandagan – dancing song, Aadjara region. accompanied by traditional instruments chiboni and chonguri
15. Khasanbegura – Historical ballad, Guria (Western Georgia)
16. Veengara – lullaby, Samegrelo (Western Georgia)
17. Chakrulo – the crown of Georgian folk songs. It belongs to the family of long Kakhetian table songs.
18. Chochkhatura – Gurian work song
About Zurab Tskrialashvili
Zurab Tskrialashvili, the Director of Ensemble Basiani, was part of Martve, the children folk’s choir, from the age of 9 to 16. He attended music school and college in Tbilisi before studying at the Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire for a Masters in Choir Conducting. Mr Tskrialashvili has been part of the Tbilisi Holy Trinity Cathedral Patriarchate Choir since 2000 to present day first as a singer and, since 2013, as the director. In 2002 he was the conductor at the Folk Ensemble Kolkheti. In 2007 he also became Assistant Professor at the G. Mtatsmindeli Church Chants Institution of Higher Education, from 2011 until last year he was a choir teacher at Kiketi I. Gogebashvili school and he is currently the Children’s Folk Choir Conductor at Folklore National Palace.
About George Donadze
George Donadze, Artistic Director since 2013, was a member of Bichebi children’s folk choir and studied at Tbilisi music college between 1995 and 1999. Mr Donadze was the Children’s Choir Conductor at Tbilisi music school between 1997 and 2000 prior to becoming both the Conductor of the Tbilisi Holy Trinity Cathedral Patriarchate Choir and founder and conductor of Ensemble Basiani. He studied for a Bachelors and Masters in Choir Conducting at the V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire and in 2006 become the choir conductor of G. Mtatsmindeli Church Chants Institution of Higher Education. In 2012 he became the Georgian Chanting Foundations Projects Chief and the Folklore State Center of Georgia’s Director in 2014.
For Calendar / Listings Editor: Ensemble Basiani
Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 8pm
The Town Hall
123 W 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
Ticket prices are $37-88
Tickets and Information available at http://thetownhall.org/event/basiani