A Brief History
We are a mixed group of singers that share a love for the ancient harmony songs of the Republic of Georgia. The choir was founded by musical director Anthony Johnston in 2004. Anthony first came into contact with Georgian song through a meeting with the male ensemble Mtiebi in 1994, led by the late Edisher Garakanidze. He was struck by the presence and authenticity of the singers and the power of the songs to energize and inspire, and to stir some ancestral memory of a world all but forgotten. From that meeting a seed was sown that has become the choir as it is today.
Since then we have been on many adventures and have performed at many different events and occasions. In 2010 we were honoured to be invited to sing at the Chveneburebi Festival in Borjomi and Tbilisi (Georgia's capital). In 2012 we stayed in Svaneti in the Caucasus mountains and in the eastern region of Kakheti, learning songs and experiencing Georgia's rich and vibrant culture first hand.
The choir has a close relationship with the Bristol Tbilisi Twinning Association and we were invited to sing at the 25th and 30th anniversaries of twinning between the two countries in Tbilisi. The choir has appeared on Georgian national television and has sung at the Houses of Parliament in the UK. Each year the choir hosts a 'Supra', a Georgian ritual feast in Brockweir in the Wye Valley and hosts other feasts in the Georgian spirit of celebration, friendship and joy for life.
Meaning of 'Borjghali'
Loosely translated this word means 'the universe', 'the sun' and 'Divine mystery'. It is often represented by in an age old symbol that represents all these things - similar in shape to a spiral galaxy it can be seen throughout Georgia carved in wood and stone on countless buildings ancient and modern.
The songs we sing have been passed down from person to person through generations of village singers. It is those very songs that have taken us on countless adventures across the UK, and further afield to Valladolid and Madrid, Spain and to Georgia. They have been the catalyst of many unexpected meetings. For these songs have stood the test of time; they have been polished over many years, by village folk long since gone. The songs were born of the everyday loves and losses and tragedies of ordinary people. That world has now passed, but the echo of those village folk, their joys and yearnings, still live on through the melodies and harmonies of the music they created.
And so, when we sing these songs, may we give voice to a spirit of friendship, of generosity and of unstoppable life, so that this life may be celebrated and the lives of those who went before. Mravaljhamier! Long life to you!
Watch the choir perform the Svanetian song 'Elia Lrde' as part of the
BBC Music Day, Colston Hall, Bristol Sept 2018
Comments from Past Audiences
St Stephen's Church, Bristol
"Many thanks to you all for such an excellent performance this lunchtime. It was even better than the last one we came to. It really lifted our spirits."
MacKenzie Hall, Wye Valley, Concert & Supra
"Our Georgian night was a great success & the compliments keep flooding in! Everyone enjoyed it very much. They were all most impressed with the Georgian singing & the expertise of the choir but also with the food..."
"Everyone was hugely complimentary about your choir & specifically about your expertise in keeping such enthusiasm & commitment going! Thank you for all your hard work. We all had a super evening."
St Aidan's Church, Bristol
"Spellbinding - I didn't want the concert to end!"
"It was a fantastic concert and a wonderful sound - you sounded like real Georgians"
"Wonderful music - exceptional voices"
"The singing was really inspiring, so amazing to get that un-English throaty sound"
Dates for 2019
** Bristol Choir **
Autumn details to be announced
The Yard, 228, Mina Road
Bristol BS2 9YL
** Ashburton Choir **
Autumn details to be announced
St Andrew's Church Hall
36, West Street, Ashburton
Devon TQ13 7DT