Voices of the Ancestors – Introductory Episodes – ‘shorts’

Trailer – A brief introduction to the ‘Voices’ podcast – 2.52

Trailer on Youtube

Prelude – How ‘Voices of the Ancestors’ came into being – 12.33

Voices of the Ancestors Podcast

All Episodes in Series 1

1 – Connection and Isolation with Jen Morris

Singing through Covid-19 lockdown. Guest – Jen Morris, USA, founder and director of Seattle’s Georgian choir onefourfive. Jen Morris speaks about her experience of lockdown. How she has found community through fellow Georgian singers around the world. Download the transcript of this episode here.
With thanks to Johnny Fill, Teo Lomsadze, Phil Thompson, Hazel Thompson, Nino Razmadze and Jen Morris.

Music: Ialoni, Sakioba, Zoé Perret, Zedashe and Mtiebi.

2 – Shepherds and Bear Prints with Jenny Barrett

Ever wondered what the difference between a city song and folk song is? Or how songs vary through the different regions of Georgia?

Jenny Barrett, sings with choirs Maspindzeli and Chela in the UK. She takes you on a whistle-stop tour of Georgian singing. Telling tales of traveling in Tusheti and Svaneti and hosting Gigi Garakanidze in the UK. For more information, check out the links to people, places and music in the transcript.

Music: Makharia by Ialoni, Khorumi by Sakhioba, Veengara by Mtiebi, Veengara, Ilias Nana and Dzlier Stiroda by Maspindzeli, Ia Patonepi by Mzetamze, Tsmindao Ghmerto by Ana Chamgeliani, Madona Chamgeliani and Levan Bitarovi, Gazapkhuli by Kimilia.

3 – Healing Songs and Circle Dances with Nino Naneishvili

“It’s one of the most valuable feelings, when your ancestor, your old generation hears his own songs. And when you perform it in your variation, improvisation and when they are happy. It’s I think the biggest gift a performer can feel.”
Nino Naneishvili, ethnomusicologist and musical director of women’s ensemble Ialoni tells us how she collected a healing song from a tiger and adapted it into her own style. Music: Rachuli batonebi by Shalva Aslanishvili, collected in 1950. Rachuli batonebi by Ialoni, Ia Patonepi by Vepkhia Antia (recorded by Nino Razmadze)
Ia Patonepi by Ialoni

Extended Edition of Episode 3 with Nino Naneishvili available to our community of listeners – sign up to receive email updates and link to the extended edition.

4 – Living and Singing in Georgia with Zoé Perret

Singer, instrumentalist and teacher Zoé Perret talks about finding a ‘common soul’ between Georgian polyphony and medieval French music.

How did french singer Zoé become so entwined with Georgian songs?

“So for the first couple of years, I think, I was listening only exclusively to old Georgian folk songs. And you know, even though you are not born in the country, I think, if you listen to it constantly, then you, in the end, kind of get the feeling that there is something that sounds natural or not natural”

Kimilia, Zoé Perret and Polikarpe Khubulava field recording, Ialoni

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5 – Reflecting Back and Looking ForwardLive Recording

We were joined by two of our past guests, Jen Morris and Nino Naneishvili, as well as some of our community of listeners, in this live ‘zoom’ episode. We took New Year 2021 as an opportunity to reflect on the highlights and lowlights of 2020; what and who we are grateful for; and what we are looking forward to in 2021. Everyone came up with suggestions for attracting sponsors to create a sustainable podcast. So many ideas bubbling up from our pool of creative and clever listeners. We all had fun fantasising about dream guests for the podcast. (Susan found hers in Episode 9!)

Music: Tamar Buadze’s Young Tutarchela Choir, Turtachela, Sakhioba and Ialoni Tamar Buadze

6 – Christmas and New Year with Magda Kevlishvili

Magda, leader of Amer-Imeri children’s ensemble and co-leader of ensemble Mtiebi, tells us about the ancient tradition of Alilo, which was revived by her father-in-law, Edisher Garakanidze.

Music: Ialoni, Kirialesa by Mtiebi and Megruli Alilo by Kimilia, Nabakeuri Alilo sung by Edisher Garakanidze and Mtiebi.

7Joan Mills on the Continuum of Theatre and Song

Joan sees the Continuum as being “like a bridge, but also like a wheel”.

What was the first Georgian song taught in the UK, and how did it come about?

How can Georgian songs be used in theatre and ensemble training?

And just how many songs are in the book 99 Georgian songs?

Joan Mills, Voice Director at Centre for Performance Research, talks about tending the flame of living traditions – influenced by her recent interview of Sam Lee and reflections on Sheila Chandra’s music ‘Weaving My Ancestors Voices’. She speaks of ‘Points of Contact’ a concept that inspired many ‘Giving Voice’ Festivals. Our wide ranging conversation covers: experimental voice practitioners; approaches to educating both actors and singers; her ‘legacy’ bringing the book 99 Georgian Songs to life with the help of Joseph Jordania after the untimely death of its originator – Edisher Garakandize.

Ialoni : Sabodisho (Batonebo); Mtiebi : Shen Khar Venakhi; Sakhioba : Khorumi; Mzetamze : Zruni;

Books mentioned:
99 Georgian Songs
The Georgian Feast by Dara Goldstein

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8 – From Georgia to Great Britain and back with Tamara Vepkhvadze

How did the Summer Song Festival with Katie Melua come about?

How are Georgian ‘Shairebi’ like Rap?

How do the very young learn to sing ‘in voices’?

We talk about passing on the flame with Tamara Vepkhvadze, founder of Gonieri Georgian Art Studio in North London. She has taught at the First Georgian Supplementary School in the UK and trained as a puppeteer at the Little Angel Theatre. She now lives in Georgia and passes songs from Amer-Imeri back to her kids in the UK through online lessons. Following up on this episode, Holly visited one of the places Tamara talks about, where her son learnt to play panduri – Keti’s Guest House in Shilda. As a thankyou to our Ko-fi supporters Holly recorded the church chant ‘Ts’midao Ghmerto’ with Susan, Keti and Bachana.

Ialoni; Katie Melua : Tu Ase Turpa Ikavi; The Chamgeliani Sisters : Instrumental – Chuniri; Tabuni : Gonja & Batonebis Nana/Naninei; Sakhioba (@sakhioba): kriste agdga; Maspindzeli and Anano Dadalauri

An audio journey through the mountains of high Ajara, following ensemble Ialoni as they film for the American Library of Congress.

The Ialoni Homegrown Concert is available for free on The American Folklife Center youtube channel

Holly and Susan chat about the trip from Tbilisi to Shuakhevi and beyond. After walking through snow, Susan meets with elders from a creative family – P’at’i Tapaladze (featured in Ialoni’s concert) her daughter Eteri. With the aid of an interpreter, we hear the voices of P’at’i and Eteri as they speak about the ancestors. There are ‘in the moment’ delights while Ialoni and P’at’i sing ‘behind the scenes’. As a final ‘surprise’ the location shifts to Ozurgeti in Guria and a meeting with singing elder – Rebuli Mzhavanadze (Dr Nana Mzhavanadze’s uncle).

With excerpts from the book ‘Performance of Georgian Folk Song’ by Edisher Garakanidze, Tbilisi 2007, ISBN 99940-933-2-0.

Music: Ialoni ; Nai-nai – Ialoni and P’at’i Tapaladze recording by Leo Decristoforo;  P’at’i Tapaladze field recording by Susan Thompson; Batonebo – Ialoni and Rebuli Mzhavanadze field recording by Susan Thompson.

10 – Musical Games in a Folk Family with Nana Mzhavanadze

Georgian musician and ethnomusicologist Nana Mzhavanadze was born into a musical family. She says her future was predicted by her grandmother:- 

 when I was bought from the maternity house, my grandmother met me at the door, that was the first thing that she did, she put me on the piano and she said she is going to be a musician.”

This episode is a significant event for their family, as it brought Nana, her uncle Rebuli and his daughter Marekhi together to sing for the first time in over 10 years.

Whether you’ve heard Nana before, with Sathanao or Sisa Tura (Trio: Nana Mzhavanadze, Tamar Buadze, Imke McMurtrie) or this is your first time, you’re sure to enjoy this playful hour where Nana experiments musically with her family.

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Navigate this episode with the searchable transcript.

Music in Episode 10:

Live Music: Nana, Rebuli and Marekhi Mzhavandanze – Recorded on location, at General TSO fusion cafe, Kobuleti, Georgia.

*Didi khnidan Gagitsani in 3 voices, with Marekhi singing bani *Patara Sakhvarelo (in 2 voices – Nana and Rebuli) Note from Nana – Patara Sakhvarelo  This is a Gurian (polyphonic) male trio repertoire. The lyrics are related to the theme of love. This variant is close to Vladimer Verdzenishvili’s variant… *Alilo by Jansung Kakhidze *Mival Guriashi

Prerecorded Music: Ialoni; Natvra by Sathanao; Kakhetian Mravaljhamier by Basiani; Sulo Chemo by Anchiskati; Sulo Chemo by Sathanao.

For books and websites check out our Georgia related Resources page.

11 – Khatia Turmanidze Finds Her Voice

  • Let us transport you to the village of Merisi, in the mountains of Ajara in West Georgia. 
  • In April we travelled to meet 17 year old Khatia Turmanidze and her singing family.
  • Her father – Jemal; grandfather – Amiran, and brothers Beso and Revaz are all singers in the Merisi village ensemble Moqvare. (Moqvare itself was started in 1950 by another of Khatia’s ancestors – Revaz Turmanidze). Moqvare is active in keeping alive the folk knowledge of the village, transmitting this treasure to future generations. Until recently Khatia preferred to dance rather than sing. Until one of their guests encouraged her to try….

Despite living, at 700 meters above sea level, with a 2 plus hour drive to the nearest city, Batumi, Khatia is not cut off. She has many friends both local and overseas. Because her whole family are renowned for their hospitality, Khatia has had the chance to chat and learn about the world from the guests. Her mother Manana’s cooking and warmth, together with the chance to learn songs around a convivial feasting table, has won their guest house Moqvare repeat visitors from Melbourne Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Austria, Ireland, UK and beyond.

12 – Following the Stories …

  • Hear about Tamar Buadze’s community initiative in Rustavi with ensemble Turtachela.
  • Join your hosts in Shilda where they unearth the start of a fascinating story linking the women’s ensemble Nelkarisi with Magda Kevlishvili from Mtiebi and Sagalobeli a pleading/begging song.
  • And finally take a mini visit to the Folk School in Telavi, and share a spine-tingling rendition of Tsintskaro with ensemble Mze Shina
  • Final episode of series 1. Help Susan and Holly shape the future of the podcast by completing the survey.

Survey Link https://bit.ly/VOAsurvey

Help the podcast become sustainable and launch Series 2 in autumn 2021 by becoming a monthly Ko-Fi subscriber at ko-fi.com/voicesoftheancestors. Or to commission an episode go to https://ko-fi.com/voicesoftheancestors/commissions

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Navigate this episode with the searchable transcript, available here voicesoftheancestors.co.uk/transcripts.

Music (pre-recorded): Tsinskaro, Mze Shina. Live recordings:Tamar Buadze and the Rustavi community workshop; Naniko (retired member of Nelkarisi Ensemble); Kasletila (from concert with Sakhioba in Udabno)

*Out Now*

Briget Boyle and Jen Morris

12a – Singing Landscapes – From Georgia to the Balkans

Guest editor edition.

Briget Boyle, vocal coach and singer with Kitka chats with Jen Morris bringing the west coast USA perspective to ‘Voices of the Ancestors’. They chat about:-

  • Working with powerful female teachers like Tamar Buadze, in Georgia and Svetlana Spajić in Serbia.
  • How to sing ‘folk music’ from a grounded, rooted place in your own landscape.
  • Briget’s insight into what ‘Voices of the Ancestors’ means for her, describing three types of ancestors – genetic, spiritual and ‘humanity’.

Briget shares experiences with Georgian songs in ‘Temple of Light’ Choir directed by Kristine Barrett (a sort of Kitka community choir) and in ‘True Life Trio’. Jen shares experiences of her Georgian choir ‘onefourfive’ and Seattle’s balkan women’s ensemble Dunava.


Book mentioned: The Comfort Crisis Film mentioned: Wie Luft zum Atmen/Like Air To Breathe