Georgian polyphony is an ancient tradition that comes in a plethora of musical dialects, reflecting the diverse geographical and cultural makeup of the country, a mountainous region of the Caucasus at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Over the centuries, family ensemble singing has played an important role in the preservation of this music. For Ori Shalva (aka the Makharashvili family), singing is natural, instinctive, and was originally framed by family celebrations. Unlike other Georgian singing families, however, they are based in Toronto, halfway around the world from the source. Today, Georgian-born singer/multi-instrumentalist Shalva Makharashvili and his Toronto-born partner, Andrea Kuzmich, are Canada’s foremost experts in Georgian polyphony, sharing their traditions on concert stages and at cultural festivals in Toronto, the US, and all over Georgia. They have collaborated with numerous groups, including VIVA Youth Singers, Aradia Ensemble, and the University of Toronto Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and lead workshops on the intricacies of Georgian polyphony to enthusiasts and professional musicians through regular workshops through MusiCamp, their home studio.
When Ori Shalva performs, they embrace the profundity of Georgian culture: its roots deeply embedded in ancient times, its strength and courage to survive, and its excessively generous and inspiring hospitality.
We are honoured to share the Tafelmusik stage with Shalva, Andrea, their son Lucas, and their friend and colleague, Nick Moss Gillepsie.
A Georgian Tale
In the beginning, God asked the peoples of the earth to choose where they wished to settle. He set a deadline for their decisions. When the Georgians failed to show up at the appointed hour, God had no choice but to partition the world without them. His task complete, he set off for home, only to pass the Georgians gathered at the supra (banquet) table, feasting on grilled lamb and roasted eggplant with garlic and pomegranate. There they sat merrily toasting, arm in arm, laughing, drinking and singing. God stoped to reproach them for their negligence. He informed them that every parcel of land was now spoken for. The Georgian people, he declared, were homeless. The Tamata (toastmaster) rose to address the Lord. He said that they had spent their time well, honouring God with elaborate toasts and sacred songs. The Tamata explained that the food they had prepared for the occasion was the very finest, the wine the most delicious. He asked God to listen to their music and to hear the reverence with which they praised him and his creation. For all these reasons, the Tamata humbly stated, the Georgians believed that their time was well spent and were without regret. God listened to the eloquent leader, looked across their supra table at the bounty, and allowed their music to enter his heart. He was so moved by their offerings that he decided to bestow upon them the last spot on earth: a tiny slip of land that he had been saving for himself.
And so it is told the Georgians came to live in paradise.
Tafelmusik Chamber Choir
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
Directed by Ivars Taurins
Charlotte Nediger, organ
Ori Shalva (Shalva Makharashvili, Andrea Kuzmich, Shalva-Lucas Makharashvili, with special guest Nick Moss Gillespie)
J.S. Bach Sei Lob und Preis
Joh. Bach Weint nicht um meinen Tod
J. Kuhnau Tristis est anima mea
J. Ch. Bach Fürchte dich nicht
J. Schelle Komm, Jesu, komm
J.S.Bach Komm, Jesu, komm
J.S. Bach Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden
J. Ch. Bach Es ist nun aus
With traditional Georgian sacred music