Georgian Polyphony & Traditional Songs, a Singing Workshop, with Nana Mzhavanadze

Nana Mzhavanadze for this Singing Workshop in traditional Georgian music. Open to all – no experience or musical knowledge required


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Nana is a marvellous teacher and singer, an eminent ethnomusicologist, a talented multi-instrumentalist, blessed with a singing voice of exquisite delicacy and a wonderfully enabling and gentle teaching style. She has developed a unique singing and teaching repertoire which, true to Georgian tradition, she communicates without any sheet music and by developing and bringing to life her students’ “musical ear”.

Nana was born in to a long line of traditional village harmony song-masters and mistresses in the mountainous region of Western Georgia. As a child, polyphony was a way of life for Nana, and daily work, rites of passage, celebration and mourning, family, love, friendship, hardship, warfare were all marked and shared, in song. Throughout Georgia – with its many distinctive regional styles or “musical dialects” - singing has always been a vital communal activity, leading singers and musicians always deeply honoured and valued.

Georgia possesses the oldest pre-Christian polyphonic musical tradition in the world, one of unusual and striking harmonies that have a deep and extraordinary emotional effect. Once heard, it is never forgotten and has, thanks in no small part to Nana, become far better known now, here in the UK and throughout Western Europe. Nana has taught for many years, has collaborated with singers and musicians from various different musical traditions & has lead many tours with her group “Sathanao”.

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Sathanao ( which means, in Georgian, “something incredibly precious”) are a group of old friends who met when they were students at different faculties at the Music Conservatoire in Georgia. [(see video)](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWflZAn0ACc) They were inspired by the work of Malkhaz Erkvanidze, who with his Anchiskhati choir, was working to restore the old Georgian Church chants – a heritage that was, at that time, almost extinct after years under the Soviet regime. For several years Sathanao chanted every week, old traditional services in the renowned church of Jvaris Mama in Tbilisi. They researched ancient chants, preserved in transcriptions made in the early 19th century, on the edge of extinction, and helped reintroduce them for use in current day liturgical practice.

They are unique in Georgia in that their repertoire covers the old church chants, village songs and also urban songs. The choir has toured Europe several times, has taken part in International festivals, has been broadcast on the BBC, and has recorded two CDs. Currently they are recording a teaching CD of Georgian cradle and healing songs. For videos of Sathanao's past European tours, please visit their youtube page - www.youtube.com/user/SATHANAO?feature=watch

The Ebenezers hope that next year we might persuade Sathanao to come and sing for us. Back in February 2009 we showed Jason Osborn’s film “Songs of Georgia” and Somerset’s own Avalonian State Choir sung wonderful Georgian songs. The evening was a complete sell-out, a tremendous success. Now Nana has come to delight, inspire and instruct us in her musical tradition. This singing workshop is open to everyone. All are most welcome – no previous experience or knowledge are required.




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2014Martin Keeley