The songs presented at the concert are a small fragment of the vast tradition of Georgian liturgical chant – one of the oldest traditions of church music in the world. The tradition has been several times threatened with extinction as a result of the imperialist actions of Czarist Russia and, later, of the Soviet Union. Oral transmission was the only universally practiced method of teaching in liturgical chant schools. Only a number of chants noted down by medieval monks have survived, as well as some later manuscripts, and early 20th-century scores and recordings, which have contributed to the preservation of thousands of songs.
A vast part of this tradition would have remained only in the domain of ethnography, and thus outside of practice, had it not been for the efforts of Malkhaz Erkvanidze and his choir, based first in the Anchiskhati Basilica, and currently in the Mama Daviti Church in Tbilisi. Actions undertaken by Malkhaz Erkvanidze include interpretation of the remaining historical sources, their editing and publication in book form, as well as endeavours to re-include the saved material in the musical canon of the Georgian Liturgy.
The songs presented at the concert will be of interest not only to the members of the congregation of the Georgian Orthodox Church, but to anyone who appreciates music created out of a spiritual impulse.
Ewa Pasikowska, Aleksandra Kotecka and Tomasz Wierzbowski are associated with Teatr ZAR, whose first production, Gospels of Childhood, had started their enduring fascination with Georgian music. Subsequent projects have further shaped their technique and sensitivity. After more than ten years, they have once again taken up work on Georgian polyphony. The collaboration with Malkhaz Erkvanidze have given them a key to better understand this tradition, initiating a long-term, in-depth project devoted to Georgian music.