Anchiskhati Choir is a world renowned polyphonic choir specializing in Ancient and Medieval Georgian music, including secular and sacred traditions. Members of the group (David Shugliashvili, Zaza Tsereteli, Levan Veshapidze and David Zatiashvili) performed at UIUC on February 29, 2016 to a full house. This event was sponsored by Bruno and Wanda Nettl; Robert E. Brown Center for World Music; Center for Advanced Study and REEEC.
Anchiskhati Choir is based in Tbilisi, Georgia at the Anchiskhati Basilica. The choral group established a beacon for the spiritual revival following Georgian independence from the Soviet Union. Additionally, the distinctiveness of polyphony, which involves multiple solitary melodies that when performed together, consist of the entire composition. As a form, many scholars believe polyphony has its origins in Georgia around the 7th century, antecedent to Georgian unification and predating the form appearing in Europe by about three centuries. Due to Georgia existing as a conglomeration of different regional kingdoms before its unification, the country has several linguistic dialects and cultural variations in tradition throughout Georgia proper and this is reflected in its music.
The performers provided their own accompaniment throughout the performance on traditional instruments. Each member has spent significant time studying these traditions as well as bringing different regional and traditional influences into the foreground. Song and dance, as part of, and apart from religion, is a common thread linking the variety of cultural and regional traditions throughout Georgia.
Kate Butterworth is a REEEC Master’s alumnus and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science.