Ensemble “Rustavi” Administration Press Release, January 30th, 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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Ensemble “Rustavi” Sings
Another glorious work has been accomplished: a collection of 60 Georgian folk songs and church hymns, “Ensemble Rustavi Sings,” has been published. Rustavi sings – and almost makes the trees and stones sing, too. When I listen to these brilliant recordings, I hear all of Georgia boisterously singing the bass drone, and pictures of my beloved country appear before my eyes; when I hear krimanchuli (Georgian yodeling), I see Guria with its rising mountains; when I hear Lile, I see Ushba and Shkhara – the formidable mountains of Svaneti.
I hear Kakhuri Mravalzhamieri and I see the Alazani Valley, its vineyards, fig and walnut trees. Only industrious people living amid such abundance could create so many table songs. I listen to Chona and wonder how my people could find time to sing throughout the history full of turmoil.
When I listen to this collection of songs, my heart fills with pride; what treasure, what amazing diversity. No song resembles any other, yet still I feel the harmonic asymmetry that is also present in glorious Georgian architecture. This collection revives our heroic past.
This collection is the fruit of the enormous labor of Anzor Erkomaishvili – People’s Artist of Georgia. He deserves gratitude not only for (Rustavi’s) high professional performance level in Georgian folk songs and church hymns, but also for the patriotic service he and Ensemble Rustavi have rendered.
At the end of the 19th century, Lado Aghniashvili created the first Georgian professional folk choir, which was a great patriotic deed. This initiated the revival of Georgian musical thought and the safeguarding of (Georgia’s) folk music treasure.
In the 1960s, a new disaster threatened Georgian music. Low quality pop music took over. Sadly, this was supported by some governmental organizations and pseudopatriots. As a result, Georgia’s youth followed the trend, and Chakrulo, Odoia, and Khasanbegura began to fade into oblivion. To convey an approximate picture of this period, even the mention of ancient church hymns was considered evil. Who knows how many unique examples were lost as a result of this? At Akaki Tsereteli’s burial, Ioseb Imedashvili brought singers from the village of Khashmi (Gare Kakheti), who chanted in an unusual, heartbreaking mode. I have never heard such chant since.
Today Anzor Erkomaishvili leads the grand cause. He has inherited Georgian folk songs from his brilliant ancestors, and he revives and popularizes them. I have known two generations of the Erkomaishvili family who have worked devotedly in this field.
Anzor Erkomaishvili deserves praise also because he gathered such brilliant performers of Georgian folk songs and hymns as Hamlet Gonashvili, Gaioz Arabashvili, Jumber Kolbaia, Ramin Mikaberidze, Badri Toidze, Geno Mujiri, Saliver Vadachkoria, Lado Tsivtsivadze, Nugzar Gelashvili, and Irakli Matikashvili, who strive to preserve Georgian folk music. This glorious choir has traveled to many countries of the world in the past 12 years, introducing their native music to audiences there.
I would like to express my gratitude to Anzor Erkomaishvili and his friends for their wonderful choir and for this collection, and also for establishing the children’s choir Martve, whose members will soon take to the sky.