Iberi Choir

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.

Singing for Iberi 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 from all parts of Georgia – work songs, carols, hymns, love songs, historical ballads, a praise song for the 12-13thC Queen Tamar (so powerful she was canonised by the Georgian Orthodox church as King Tamar), and very old songs from the pre-Christian era.

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They're dressed like executioners but sing like saints. A 6-member polyphonic choir with sometimes slight but just right accompaniment. Utterly traditional and faultlessly so. Hard to imagine anyone not being uplifted by this music which is so living in tradition and such a perfect fusion of sacred and secular.

Nic Hobbs, Charmenko music agency, 2015

From the Georgian choir you can expect the overwhelming polyphonic vocal beauty that will stay with you for a long time. Its concert at the Womex fair was an unforgettable experience for all visitors, and I knew right away that our castle park would be exactly the right place where Iberi's voices will start to sound perfectly.

Michal Schmidt, Artistic Director of the Folk Holidays festival, CZ, 2016

The last performer on the stage in St’Catherine Church was Georgian male choir – Iberi. Artists keep the tradition of polyphonic a’capella singing, performing work songs, historical ballads and sacred music/anthem, present in Georgia for centuries. Most of the songs were made piano, and the atmosphere of the church added more dignity and seriousness to the music. every change in dynamics caused that song become more expressive and stirring. During the concert, the singers were telling stories about the places from which the melodies came from. The audience rewarded the band with standing ovation. It was probably because of the unquestionable magic of the Georgian choir, but also because of unexpected performance of polish hit song “Szła dzieweczka do laseczka” in Georgian way.

Muzyczna uczta dla ducha. Za nami kolejny dzień festiwalu EtnoKraków/Rozstaje, PL, 2016