Tag Archives: Georgian music

The Independent Spirit of Highlander Music

Trebunie-Tutki i Quintet Urmuli – Duch Gór – The Spirit of the Mountains

Trebunie-Tutki i Quintet Urmuli – Duch Gór – The Spirit of the Mountains (Unzipped Fly Records, 2016)

“The Spirit of the Mountains” is an encounter of ancient musical traditions, envisioned by two ensembles highly acclaimed in their respective homelands: Trebunie-Tutki from Zakopane, Poland and Urmuli Quintet from Tbilisi, Georgia.

Using traditional shepherd instruments and polyphonic songs, the musicians tell stories of the highwayman way of life, love and death, and also bring back to life the spirits of their ancestors, the legendary heroes of the mountains.

Highlanders from Podhale, Poland, and Georgians from Kazbek have for centuries been free and independent shepherds, outlaws, and valiant warriors, running away from any authority and led by an internal instinct and a sense of justice, pride and honor. Their music and powerful male singing define this culture.

The artists featured include Krzysztof Trebunia-Tutka on vocals, violin, highlander bagpipe, highlander flutes, whistling, steep bells, wooden horn, double flute; Anna Trebunia-Wyrostek on vocals, highlander cello, highlander vocal glissando; Jan Trebunia-Tutka on viola and vocals; Andrzej Polak on violin and vocals; Kuba “Bobas” Wilk on acoustic bass; Nugzar Kavtaradze on vocals, panduri (lute), duduk; Shalva Abramashvili on vocals and chuniri (fiddle); David Ratiani on vocals, bass chonguri (lute); Tamaz Mamaladze on vocals, bass panduri, gudastviri (Georgian bagpipe); and Gela Tabashidze on vocals and salamuri (flute).


Balkan Souls in New Orleans

Blato Zlato – In The Wake (Blato Zlato, 2019)

In The Wake is the second album from New Orleans-based Balkan music band, Blato Zlato. Although the ensemble is based in a city known for its brass bands and jazz, the remarkable sound of Blato Zlato takes you to Eastern Europe and the traditions of Bulgaria, Macedonia and Megrelia (Georgia).

Blato Zlato’s sound is characterized by superb Bulgarian-style polyphonic female vocals delivered by three of the ensemble’s members, along with beautifully-constructed instrumentation. The musical pieces included in the album In The Wake are a mix of traditional eastern European songs and original material.

Blato Zlato – In The Wake

Although the music has deep Bulgarian influences, the musicians live in New Orleans, a city affected by climate change, surrounded by water.  The song “Vodata Teche” (The Water Flows) reflects Blato Zlato’s rising concern about climate change and its effects on their home state of Louisiana.

The physical CD includes fascinating artwork and lyrics in the original languages along with English-language translations.

Blato Zlato

Lineup: Lou Carrig on accordion and vocals; Ian Cook on violin; Ruby Corbyn-Ross on vocals and riqq; Janie Cowan on upright bass and riqq;  Annalisa Kelly on vocals; and Boyanna Trayanova on tapan and caxixi.

Buy the In the Wake CD from Bandcamp or the digital download via amazon.


The Magnificent Iberi Choir

Iberi Choir – First (

Iberi Choir – First (Elwood Muusik, 2014)

The nation of Georgia has one of the most beautiful polyphonic choir traditions and Iberi Choir is one of its finest. The ensemble has toured worldwide presenting the folk and sacred traditions of Georgia.

The album First, recorded in Estonia, includes Megrelian wedding, work and jocular songs; Gurian historical ballads; and various church hymns and Christmas songs.

The CD booklet (available at live concerts) includes notes in English, Georgian, Estonian and Russian.

Iberi Choir’s First is pure vocal delight.

Buy First


Artist Profiles: The “Rustavi” Company

Rustavi Choir

The “Rustavi” Company was founded in 1968. Art of “Rustavi” has roots in the past of Georgia’s folk music and folk performing arts. It is the product of Georgia’s musical culture, the source of its creative force. “Rustavi” incorporates representatives from different parts of Georgia; the timbre of each singer’s voice bears a specific national coloring. The members of the company infuse its repertory the unique vocal traditions of their native parts as well as with their songs and the deep knowledge of their performing style.

“Rustavi’s” performances are fine evidence that the Georgian people have long mastered the peculiarities of vocal art. This enabled them to develop their own style of execution, which is an outstanding phenomenon from the point of intoning, vocalization and virtuoso singing technique. In different corners of Georgia there have been preserved along with purely vocal music remarkable songs performed to the accompaniment of folk instruments. “Rustavi” has also mastered this type of folk music. Members of the company play different folk musical instruments (Chuniri, Chiboni, Changi, Panduri, Changuri, Salamuri, Duduki) which extends its repertory and amplifies performing gamut.

Anzor Erkomaishvili, Art Director of the “Rustavi” Company and the inspirer and organizer of this arduous work, has a special talent for developing the musical traditions which the Erkomaishvili family had nurtured for ages. He represents the seventh generation of this remarkable dynasty of musicians. From his forbears Anzor Erkomaishvili has inherited a profound knowledge of folk music literature and performing traditions, the culture of Georgian folk music and the endeavor to preserve this music. A. Erkomaishvili does not only perform and popularize Georgian folk songs and poesieshe is also a researcher with a deep theoretical knowledge, the author of many interesting papers and the compiler of a collection of Georgian folk songs.

Otar Kelaptrishvili plays salamuri

In mastering instrument folk music no little initiative was shown by the soloist and director of the Company’s instrumental group Omar Kelaptrishili, Honored Artist of Georgia, and a salamuri (shepherd’s flute) virtuoso from childhood. Omar Kelaptrishvili has elevated the art of playing the salamuri to the heights of performing mastery and has acquainted many countries with Georgian pastoral and mountain melodies.

The instrumental trio “Rustavi” under O. Kelaptrishvili attracts large audiences in Georgian and beyond its borders. Fridon Sulaberidze, People Artist of Georgia who heads “Rustavi’s” choreography ensemble, contributes immeasurably to its professional development by perfecting its performing style and dancing technique. His enthusiastic nature enables him to transmit his mastership in all its brillianceunder his guidance the dancers strive to achieve the unique eurhythmical movements of the folk dance. He aims at restoring and developing the ancient elements of Georgian folk dance and the dances he has produced for the stage are noted for their masterly performing technique. In his duet with Iamze Dolaberidze, People Artist of Georgia, F. Sulaberidze enchants the audience by his exclusive professionalism, genuine artistry and plasticity. Truly unique is “Kartuli” (“Georgian Dance”) which is performed by the two artists with virtuoso mastership and artistic inspiration.

Iamze Dolaberidze designs the costumes for the “Rustavi” ensemble. Her work shows perfect taste, simplicity and profound knowledge of national style. The “Rustavi” Company is constantly on tour. The geography of its travels across the country is truly astonishing. Its concerts abroad are an invariable success. Wherever it has performed, and this includes, US and Canada, France and Spain, Germany and Belgium , Britain and Poland, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria and Guinea, Switzerland and Luxembourg, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Netherlands, the huge impact of Georgian folk songs and dances on the audience was universal.


Georgian Voices (Nonesuch, 1989)


Artist Profiles: Lela Tataraidze

Lela Tataraidze grew up in a family of musicians from Tusheti, the mountainous region of Georgia. With her sad eyes but a happy face, she is an excellent accordion and panduri player, and also a brilliant vocalist, who sings the popular songs of the mountains with a lot of emotion.

She was brought up in the musical atmosphere of her family and continued her studies at the school of music and later on at the philharmonic ensemble of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.

At the same time, Lela works at the Regional Cultural Center of her hometown and works as the soloist of the radio and television of Tbilisi.

She founded the trio ensemble of Kesane (which means the flower of Myosotis forget-me-not) and recorded her first CD for Pan Records in Holland in 1999. Lela is accompanied by two female singers and players of panduri and dayera, Marina Giorgadze and Lia Khountsaria.


Janghi Morning Fog (Pan, 2000)


Artist Profiles: Hamlet Gonashvili

Hamlet Gonashvili

Hamlet Gonashvili was born June 20, 1928. He was considered the voice of Georgia. He was an outstanding soloist, influential teacher and brilliant performer of traditional Georgian music.

Born in the Eastern part of the country, he was know to be the best interpreter of songs from the regions of Kartli and Kakheti. He played an important role in the world-famous Rustavi choir, the first choir in Georgia to include into its program songs from all regions of the country.

At the height of his creative powers Hamlet Gonashvili died in a tragic accident in 1985 falling off a tree while picking apples. He had been awarded his country’s most important honors and prizes.

After a year of research the German label JARO managed to discover missing tapes in Russia that document Gonashvili’s solo works, in order to produce a collection of his most impressive songs. the result was the album Hamlet.


Hamlet (JARO, 1985)