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Adilei: Georgian Polyphonic Singers from Tblisi to perform

By Staff | Jan 27, 2017

Ensemble Adilei, a group of nine merry guys from Tblisi, are coming to Shepherdstown to share the magic of their unusual and improvisational style of singing on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the lovely, historic Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church at 8 p.m.

Ensemble Adilei performs traditional Georgian polyphonic songs and chants. Most of the members were introduced to folk singing in their families or children’s music groups ear on in life. After informally singing together for several years, they officially formed the ensemble and started conducting regular rehearsals in 2012.

Adilei’s main passion lies in the songs from the province of Guria in Western Georgia, which is the most musically developed region in the country, though other regions are also represented in their repertoire. Gurian music has often been compared to jazz, because improvisation is its main component, and all the voice parts move independently of each other, creating contrapuntal polyphony. Gurian song is also characterized by krimanchuli, a yodeling technique often present in the upper voice.

Most frequently, Georgian songs consist of three voice parts (though two and four-part songs are also somewhat common), all of which can have many patterns of movement, depending on the region (every Georgian province has its own signature style). In addition to the intricate multi-part structure, traditional Georgian music employs a kind of untempered tuning that differs from the Western Classical system. These are some of the reasons why Georgian polyphony was designated a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in UNESCO’s 2001 declaration.

For the members of Adilei singing is the primary mode of communication with the world: it is more of a lifestyle than a performance practice– it is not just relegated to official concerts.

They sing every time they gather, wherever that may be. They have learned their repertoire from village songmasters, living and past, often going back to old source recordings, many of which were made by our ancestors over 100 years ago.

The ensemble has had a number of solo concerts throughout Georgia and participated in a variety of notable folk music festivals, including International Symposium on Traditional Polyphony, held in the Tbilisi State Conservatoire (2014), as well as Hit Batumi 2016, among others. On June 29, 2016, Adilei was awarded 2nd place in their category at the National Folklore Festival Competition. The members of Adilei recently completed a week-long tour in Italy, followed by an 18-day tour in Germany (Sept 24-Oct 10). They are on the final days of their first U.S. tour.

So come out for this amazing cultural experience from the crossroads of the world, the intersection between Europe and Asia. This concert is the fifth concert in this Shepherdstown Music and Dance’s International Concert Series this season. The concert starts at 8 p.m.

Admission cost is $20 adults, $18 seniors, $15 SMD members, $10 students and will be taken at the door. For more information, call Joanie at (304) 263-2531 or email updf@earthlink.net.