Iberi / Georgia
Blokes in black coats and boots, with rows of cartridges on their chests, long knives on their belts. Not an invasion force, but singers. Gorgeously rich, shifting blocks of improvising harmony, sometimes with wild, crowing falsetto over the growling basses and soaring tenors.
As Georgian culture has become more city-centred and pop-influenced its unique polyphonic singing has been seen as threatened, and it’s on UNESCO’s list of Oral and Intangible Masterpieces of Humanity, but a new wave of singers are embracing it. An outstanding example, the vocal group Iberi perform songs from across Georgia’s ten regions. Singing for them isn’t just dramatic and intense stage performance, it’s a social thing; at the long table of a supra, a feast that’s at the centre of Georgian life, the many courses and Georgian wine just keep on coming and so do the toasts and songs - work songs, carols, hymns, love songs, historical ballads, a praise songs and very old songs from the pre-Christian era.
Members of the group:
Amiran Ramishvili – tenor
Archil Uturashvili – bass
Bidzina Murgulia – II tenor, bass
Davit Kuradze – bass
Giorgi Kapanadze – I tenor
Giorgi Khutsishvili – I, II tenor
Giorgi Mamulashvili – bass
Ioseb Tkeshelashvili – bass
Levan Mamulashvili – I tenor
Mikheil Javakhishvili – I, II tenor
Mikheil Tavartkiladze – bass
The concert took place in 2016.