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Giorgi Donadze: “Choirmaster’s Schools Were & Are a Priority”

The State Folklore Center of Georgia works in the following directions: Georgian folk music, Georgian traditional chant, oral folklore, choreography, fine and applied arts. The Choirmaster’s School, one of the most significant projects carried out by the Center, which includes setting up and running choir mastery schools in the regions of Georgia, is ongoing and this year has seen the opening of a school in Tsageri Cultural Center.

The existence of choirmaster’s schools is extremely important for the preservation and popularization of traditional Georgian music. Study of traditional chanting is free and only experienced specialists are employed and trained. Supported by the local governments of the regions, these schools remain one of the major priorities of the Center and there are now 21 ‘choirmaster’s schools’ functioning in Georgia serving more than 800 students.

“The choirmaster’s schools were and are our priority. We started preparing in 2014, and in 2015 the first school was opened in Khobi, followed by a number of other regions. There will be 24 ‘choirmaster’s schools by the end of 2019. We believe youth mastering the language of traditional Georgian music in our schools, will soon make their statement for the development and promotion of this sphere. Currently, almost all the ensembles are based in Tbilisi, while earlier the situation was the reverse. We have to send the masters of ‘Krimanchuli’ to Guria from Tbilisi! We want professionals in the regions. Ozurgeti has a large, well-equipped folklore center, with concert and exhibition halls and recording studios. It was made to bring the experts back from Tbilisi to the regions” noted Donadze, the Executive Director of the State Folklore Center of Georgia.

Professionals working in the sphere note the importance of such schools for raising national awareness and intensifying the preservation of identity. Likened to the Society for the Spread of Literacy among Georgians, it passes on the Georgian traditions of singing and chanting to future generations. In already existing schools, polyphonic singing and chanting are taught. In future there will also be oral folklore, choreography, fine and applied arts departments.

In 2015, on the initiative of the Georgian government and the Ministry of Culture of Georgia, the State Folklore Center of Georgia started creating choirmaster’s schools in various municipal centers and self-governed towns throughout Georgia, with the aim of preserving and promoting Georgian traditional polyphonic singing, proclaimed by UNESCO as a masterpiece of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2001. In 2016 all the ‘choirmaster’s schools’ received musical instruments and equipment and infrastructure was renovated. The main objective of the State Folklore Center is to research folklore material, record, create archives and enrich databases.