Ensemble “Rustavi” Administration Press Release, June 2nd, 2020
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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It is well known, that the “Rustavi” is a leading ensemble in the Georgian musical culture, Georgian folklore.
For me, the Ensemble “Rustavi” begins with the surname of the Erkomaishvilis. I was about 15-16 years old when I decided to become a musician and I got interested in folklore. At first I decided to get acquainted with the records “One Hundred Folk Songs” produced in 70s. In the mid of 80s I first listened to a song “Shavi Shashvi” (“Blackbird”) performed by the Erkomaishvilis which made an unforgettable impression on me. Later, when I was gone in for jazz, I found that this song and jazz had much in common. Recently Mr. Anzor presented me this song recorded on DVD, and I saw how these people look like and how they sing live. It’s an amazing recording.
In 1980s there was produced a collection of records “100 Folk Songs” performed by the Ensemble “Rustavi”, and I began to get acquainted with the recordings with great interest. By that time the “Rustavi” was quite popular already. It was continuing very successful creative way in the world. In that period I was studying at the Conservatory of Moscow. In the middle period of 80s, when I returned to Georgia, I realized everything this Ensemble and personally Anzor Erkomaishvili was doing. Though, to deepen this relationship with them didn’t happen at this stage too.
Our true, deep professional and at the same time close friendly relationships began at the beginning of 90s when there was founded Tbilisi Symphonic Orchestra and in 1993 there was established International Music Festival “Autumn’s Tbilisi”. In the same period there was opened a studio, which made recordings by the order of a record label “Sony Classical”. The studio got interested in the Georgian folklore and since that time our cooperation began. At that time, I was the manager of the studio and had an intense contact with Anzor Erkomaishvili and the members of the Ensemble. We recorded about 300 songs performed by the “Rustavi” which were sorted according to the theme and genre and transferred to CDs. Since that time, we have already had very frequent professional and friendly relationships with one another for more than 20 years.
In hard times for our country, of course, the “Rustavi” also had a small pause in its tours. In those years there was changed the form of demand from abroad too. I decided to try by myself what I could do in this regard and it happened I was, if we can say, “a friend manager” of the Ensemble “Rustavi’ for 6 years. In those years the career of the Ensemble was reinvigorated. The “Rustavi” held very significant concerts in Europe. I would distinguish the concert at the “Albert Hall” in London where the “Rustavi” had a huge success and that was, first of all, the success and victory of the Georgian folklore. They wrote about the “Rustavi” in press, TV programs were dedicated to it. For the English society that was a real discovery. They also had an amazing success in Norway, Bergen (the native town of Grieg), where they participated in the festival. The festival of Bergen brought quite an interesting result – there we learnt that an outstanding Taiwanese ballet-master Lin Hwai-min made a wonderful play named “Songs of the Wanderers” after he had been inspired by the songs performed by the “Rustavi”. An illustrious dance theater of Taiwan traveled all over the world with this play. In 2014 they also visited drama festival in Tbilisi, and we all saw this brilliant performance live with the “Rustavi”.
I’d also like to remember a drama festival in Hamburg where the “Rustavi” gave a brilliant concert. By the invitation of the Queen of Dane, we were to Dane twice. There were very interesting tours to several regions of France as well. Certainly, these tours had never been our ultimate goal, but this is one more significant victory of the Georgian folklore.
During the same period, UNESCO (where Anzor Erkomaishvili was a member of the folklore commission) proclaimed the Georgian folk song a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of the humanity.
Besides the tours, in those years the Ensemble “Rustavi” participated in the festival “Autumn’s Tbilisi” and also, “Christmas Concerts”. Exactly from these “Christmas Concerts” began my intense creative relationship with them. Specially for the “Rustavi”, there were composed several short works (pieces of music), that had a very good outcome. In 2000 the brass band of the Swiss Army asked me to write a short composition for a men’s choir, boys’ ensemble and a brass band which would be dedicated to a Christmas jubilee. When I was writing this “Christmas trilogy”, I was thinking about and meant the Ensemble “Rustavi” and the Boys’ Folklore Ensemble “Mdzlevari”. The composition was a huge success and in Switzerland, with the brass band of the Swiss Army we recorded the “Christmas Trilogy”. There was a very high demand on the CDs and there were sold lots of them. Next year the brass band of the Swiss Army arrived in Tbilisi and we gave two joint concerts. They did a very nice job and contributed the whole sum received from the sold CDs to a homeless children’s home in Tbilisi.
In 2003 I made a new version of the “Christmas Trilogy” for the symphony orchestra, with the Ensemble “Rustavi”. Then concerts were held at St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall and the Great Concert Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. In the first part there was performed Stravinsky’s “Blessed Spring” and in the second one – my “Christmas Trilogy”. This work created a real furore that is proved by the press of that time. A very important endowment to the success of the work belongs to the Ensemble “Rustavi”. And now, when I am starting to compose a new work, subconsciously always exists the genial Ensemble “Rustavi”.
During these years, as I was getting acquainted with the Georgian folklore more and more deeply, it became more obvious and clearer the Erkomaishvilis, especially Mr. Anzor’s contribution in this regard. As it is known for me, the whole anthology – there have been recorded several thousand songs. And this is very important as it gives a unique opportunity to the future generations to study the songs in the right way. But there has to be done even more. Anzor Erkomaishvili works hard until today, and I am surprised where he finds time and strength for all of this. The whole work is accompanied by wonderful literary background. I wish to express my deep gratitude to the people who help Anzor Erkomaishvili in this great deed.
And at last, I can’t but mention my most recent impression.
In 2014, at the festival “Autumn’s Tbilisi”, the Ensemble “Rustavi” presented a completely new program, – lately discovered and decoded songs. Among them, there were Abkhazian, Mingrelian, Acharian, etc. songs. I had not heard the songs before. It was a wonderful concert. I consider that the Georgian folklore, to say more precisely, the Georgian stage, folklore ensembles perform on, got diamonds. We always had such tradition: the Ensemble “Rustavi” performed first and then those songs would become popular. Then this tradition was adopted and followed by other folklore ensembles. Such the Leader Ensemble is the “Rustavi”.
Nowadays, the Ensemble “Rustavi” is on such a level and Mr. Anzor is doing such a wide scientific and creative job, that I am sure, they shall surprise us with their great deeds again many times in the future and we will witness lots of new achievements.
I wish each member of the Ensemble and personally Anzor Erkomaishvili good health and huge creative attainments. They know I am the person who will always be with them as one of the first and subjective supporters of them for I see really tremendous significance in their performance for my country and generally, for the folklore. I have a big hope we have creative relationships in the future, too.
I remember with a pity that during these years the Ensemble lost several members. Many of them I knew quite well. They were wonderful people and singers.