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Our Reportage from The Artgene Festival, Tbilissi, Georgia
Artgene Festival – Regions & Traditional Music
After yet another lunch of khinkali, at 18:30 we’re back at the ArtGene. The day is dedicated to Abkhazia and the region of Mtskheta-Mtianeti. When opening an old blind man takes the stage, accompanied by the acclaim of the large audience and by the lovely daughter of no more than four years.
The man speaks at length and with intensity, punctuated by the thunderous applause of the auditorium; obviously we do not understand anything and we have no idea who he is, most likely a Georgian Abkhazian, maybe a writer or a poet.
After the speech, the music begins: once again all ages are represented, the groups of children are many, quite good (some are really young). And then the numerous formations of dancers, with men who perform acrobatics full of energy and vigor and women who have interesting choreographies in beautiful traditional costumes.
The types of music are basically three: the polyphonic choirs, based on subtle dissonances between the voices; the song form, accompanied by Panduri (small three-stringed lute), Chunguri (larger lute, four-stringed), Doli (twin-side cylindrical drum played with fingers), and sometimes flute (Salamuri) and Changi (a sort of triangular harp ); The instrumental music to accompany the dance (same instruments but different rhythms).
The most stunning thing is the vitality of this tradition, felt like something up-to-date and experienced in everyday life, and not, as is often the case elsewhere (eg in Italy), with a sort of parodistic or pseudo-philological “folklorism”, disconnected from real context of belonging.
The Georgians sing at the table, or while drinking with friends, listen and know in depth the repertoire of their own region, and often that of the other, there are many radio exclusively dedicated to traditional music.
With this attitude, which some tend to connect, perhaps not unreasonably, to the strong sense of Georgian nationalism, the musical heritage of this nation is alive and constantly evolving, in a cultural route that leads from ancestral times to the present day.
Shortly after the concert of the main group begins, again the most disappointing part of the evening.
More about Georgia?
If you want to know more, we have written articles on hydroelectric projects in Georgia, which could destroy part of this magical place:
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