Ensemble “Rustavi” Administration Press Release, January 30th, 2020

 

Don’t miss!..

Connecting with the 50th anniversary of the Ensemble “Rustavi”, there has been published a very important anthology – “400 Georgian Folk Songs”.

 

 

 

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SHOJI YAMASHIRO

(JAPAN)

Leader (Kumigashira) of

Geinoh Yamashirogumi

 

Dedicated to the publication of the Anthology of

Georgian Folk Songs

 

It was in 1969 when I first got an opportunity to listen to the Georgian polyphonic song. I happened to hear “Diambego” on a Japanese radio program and was struck tremendously by its profound sound. A sone that was pursuing various possibilities within the art of chorus, this encounter opened my eyes toward a new horizon. The polyphony was brilliant overall and contained acoustic forms which were impossible to comprehend as a product of human being through use of chorus methodologies, all the while being spiritual at the highest level. I was truly moved by these distinguished and holistic features.

During the same year, with a chorus group where I was conducting, I decided to try to reproduce this polyphony with completely different concepts from all other choruses performed by human being. Reproduction seemed like an impossible dream to accomplish by other ethnological groups. Fortunately, our ambitious challenge was a success that brought significant results. Seven years later, in 1976, we recorded several pieces to an LP album called “Chi-no Hibiki” (“The Echo of the Earth”, released from JVC). This successful reproduction by the people outside Sakartvelo (Georgia) for the first time in the world greatly contributed to the foundation of Geinoh Yamashirogumi in 1974.

By a stroke of luck, this album, which contained “Khasanbegura” performed by Geinoh Yamashirogumi, was passed into the hands of Mr. Anzor Erkomaishvili, the great leader of Rustavi Ensemble. Mr. Erkomaishvili, along with Mr. Soso Chkheidze, a respected film director, listened to it and they both ventured across the sea in 1986 to visit us in Japan. Our surprise, joy and elation felt upon their sudden visit were beyond words. This is how the exchange between the two countries by way of the polyphony started.

After the dramatic, in-person meeting with Mr. Erkomaishvili and the members of the Rustavi Ensemble during their first visit to Japan in 1986, we made frequent visits to Sakartvelo (Georgia) which were possible through the great efforts and support of Mr. Erkomaishvili. There, we received in-person lessons and held many concerts which included our original piece of “Gungei Narukami,” a chorus drama, as well as the polyphony of Sakartvelo (Georgia). The exchange was deepened even further through participation in an international symposium held in Tbilisi and through many excellent artists from Sakartvelo (Georgia) including the Rustavi Ensemble visiting Japan on various occasions. These exchanges have set down deep roots in Japan, and became a part of our flesh and blood.

Mr. Erkomaishvili carefully excavated this art of fusion of innovation and tradition and which was nurtured in the ethnic culture of Sakartvelo (Georgia) with a history said to be two thousand years. He revived the art into modern day through discovery of historical recordings and tales told by elder singers who inherited orally passed down forgotten songs, and he also established a systematic approach. He himself is also a splendid singer and conductor, and no one in the world could have accomplished his great feat in such a comprehensive and consolidated way. The dynamic and brilliant performances of the Rustavi Ensemble truly embody the significance of this art, and they have been fascinating people around the globe. They are presenting clear answers to a fundamental question of what happiness to human being is.

The meaning behind the publication of this anthology containing 382 songs and the comprehensive book is that the Polyphony in Sakartvelo (Georgia) is now shared by the human being not only as an intangible world heritage but also in a form of tangible assets. As I take in this miraculous polyphony and float around this vast and deep ocean, the excellence of this art is not the only thing that I find; I find myself being deeply moved by the dialogue with those who passed on this art over many generations and each of their facial expressions and motions.

 

Tokyo. 2015