Shavnabada: “We are ambassadors of the Georgian culture”
14 December, 2017
It is an ancient tradition in Georgia, yet very alive. The Georgian folk music ensemble “Shavnabada” is one of the men’s choirs that play a significant role in preserving and spreading the Georgian singing culture both locally and internationally. The popular choir has become known to a wider public after a performance in Strasbourg. "Shavnabada" performed at the headquarters of the Council of Europe, opening this year’s World Forum for Democracy with a Georgian polyphonic version of Beethoven’s “Ode to
Joy”, the anthem of the European Union. A video of the Georgian singers published on the Facebook page of the Council of Europe got over 250’000 views, a number none of the videos published by the Council of Europe have accumulated before.

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"Shavnabada" performing at the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg in November.

“It was a great honor for us”, Dato Tsintsadze, director of Shavnabada, tells Georgian Journal. „We felt we were standing there not only as a choir but on behalf of the whole country, as ambassadors of Georgia.“ Among the performed songs was also the famous Georgian folk song “Chakrulo”.

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A cover of the "Voyager Golden Records" that were sent to space.

“Chakrulo” is known in Georgia because it got a special task, 40 years ago: The song was among the recordings that were sent to space aboard the Voyager spacecrafts launched in 1977. The recordings called the “Voyager Golden Records” contain sounds and images selected to portray life and culture on Earth and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form or for future humans, who may find them.

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One of the singers of "Shavnabada" at their Christmas concert in December.

Famous songs like “Chakrulo” are among the reasons why Georgian folk music is popular nowadays. That has not always been the case. During the Soviet Union, Georgian chants and polyphony have undergone times of hardship. In that period the churches were closed which hindered the development of Georgian gospel and let Georgian traditional music fall into oblivion. “That is why the restoration and the preservation of our culture and songs became the core aim of our ensemble”, Dato Tsintsadze points out.

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Dato Tsintsadze, director of "Shavnabada" at one of the choir's rehearsals.

Most of the members of “Shavnabada” got familiar with Georgian folk music in the children’s choir “Martve”. Growing up, Dato Tsintsadze and four of his friends, decided to found their own ensemble, 12 years ago. Today, the ensemble “Shavnabada” has 17 members between the age of 19 and 34. The choir has published 9 CD’s and belongs to the Georgian Patriarchal Choir which chants when the Patriarch Ilia celebrates masses both in Georgia and abroad. Four of the five founders are still members of the ensemble. And for most of the members, “Shavnabada” is more than a choir, Dato Tsintsadze emphasizes: “We have been friends since childhood. This choir is for us like one big family.”

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"Shavnabada" performing with other singers at their Christmas concert at Tbilisi State Conservatoire.

The ensemble has performed in a number of countries, introducing the Georgian culture to a foreign audience. Recently, "Shavnabada" held a Christmas concert before a sold-out crowd at Tbilisi State Conservatoire. Apart from their traditional program, the ensemble invited several choirs of children and a women's ensemble. In collaboration with the other singers, the concert presented different styles of folk music in an extraordinary way.

Author: Simone Herrmann

Related stories:

Georgian ensemble’s amazing performance of European Anthem in Strasbourg

The Untold Story of How “Chakrulo” Ended Up in Space

Top Georgian songs of all time


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