CPR (the Centre for Performance Research), is a multi-faceted theatre organization and charity based in Aberystwyth, Wales and Falmouth, England working nationally and internationally.
CPR was a pioneer in the introduction of traditional Georgian singing to the UK in the 1990s and in 2004 published ‘99 Georgian Songs’, an indispensible workbook for singing the wonderful folk harmonies of Georgia, useful for the beginner or long-term enthusiast. The book remains one of the few significant collections of Georgian songs in English.
- The full story of CPR’s involvement with Georgian singing and the emotional history of how the book came to be published initially can be read in the message from the editor of 99 Georgian Songs below
Now, in 2014, after being bought by singers all around the world, the first edition has sold out. As there is still an enthusiastic and regular demand for the collection, CPR has begun the process of revising and updating the book for reprint with the help of Georgian ethnomusicologist Joseph Jordania, who is also preparing 12 new songs to enrich the content of the new edition.
The second edition will retain the extensive introduction and the much loved original 99 songs (arranged in order of ease, each with an English translation of the text and contextual notes), a map of the regions from which the songs come, as well as photographs and links to Georgian choirs in the west.
CPR is donating staff time to the administration and management of the reprint and Joseph Jordania and Joan Mills have already given their time to prepare the necessary revisions and additional songs. This means that the costs of the project are being kept to the absolute minimum: we only need to find the fees for design amendments and the cost of printing.
We hope that via Crowdfunder you will help us to make this project happen. In return for investing you can be one of the first to receive the second edition, hot off the press.
A percentage of income from future sales of the new edition will continue to be donated to the family of the late Edisher Garakanidze in Georgia.
If you have any questions about the book or the new edition please don't hesitate to contact us. We hope you will get involved and enjoy bringing to life, through singing, the wonderful songs on the page.
A message from Joan Mills, editor of 99 Georgian Songs and CPR’s Voice Director:
- If you are considering joining the crowd funding for 99 Georgian Songs then maybe it would help you to decide to hear a bit more about why CPR wanted to publish this collection in the first place:
In 1994, the Georgian ethnomusicologists Edisher Garakanidze and Joseph Jordania came to the UK at the invitation of the CPR’s Artistic Director Richard Gough who had created an unusual conference/event exploring ‘Performance Food and Cookery’. The final day was to conclude with a Georgian Feast complete with the appropriate dishes, drinks and traditional songs and toasts. Edisher and Joseph advised on every aspect of this important cultural tradition, acted as the Tamadas (toast-masters), and even brought the correct spices from Tbilisi. Most importantly of all they were to teach a group of willing British singers the songs which each toast demanded at the supra.
Richard asked me if I would convene this makeshift but enthusiastic choir and I invited a number of friends and colleagues who I knew would be excited to learn songs from a distant culture including some of my acting students at the Welsh Collage of Music and Drama. Thus it was that we gathered in a room in Chapter Arts Centre and began a process of being taught, mostly by ear, 18 Georgian songs which we performed at the feast just a week later. Admittedly we only knew one verse of each, we still had crib sheets for the words, but nevertheless, it was good enough to cause a slightly tipsy arts practitioner to be overheard later asking exactly how much grant aid the CPR had received from the Arts Council of Wales to bring ‘that Georgian choir over to Wales!
That we could achieve this was all credit to the two remarkable teachers and their passion for their traditional songs. When I heard our voices meet on those 5ths and 4ths, when I experienced the shock of the deliberate vibrant dissonances and inspired modulations: I was in love. Strangely I also had the odd experience of feeling that somehow, in terms of singing, I had ‘come home’. The wonderful singer Sheila Chandra who weaves an inspirational path between Indian and Irish songs has spoken of this feeling of recognizing ‘our ancestor’s voices’. This sense of an instinctive musical heritage recognized through the ear and voice, yet which is not our own, perhaps began thousands of years ago when the many travelling musicians crossed continents ‘jamming’ with other singers and musicians, exchanging, imitating and creatively ‘stealing’ from each other, a musical contagion which can still be felt today.
I was not the only one who immediately loved these songs and requests to have follow up workshops resulted in invitations to bring Edisher back to teach in Cardiff, London and later many other places throughout the UK. Over the next few years Edisher and Joseph were guests of CPR at the Giving Voice project more than once and it was this growing interest in Georgian polyphony that caused Edisher to suggest a song workbook which would offer a resource for keen singers, particularly in the west, and answer the frequent questions about the cultural context, traditions and musical structure of the songs. Richard Gough agreed to publish this through the CPR’s own imprint Black Mountain Press and Edisher began work on the introduction immediately.
Over the next year we had exchanges about the rest of the content and in 1997 Edisher stayed with Richard and I for a few days to plan the rest of the book, and discuss the translation which I had been editing. He was excited that the book was proceeding despite all the difficulties back then in Georgia- not least the sudden frequent outing of the electricity supply and the consequent problems in sending song files. Edisher was very busy the following year but we hoped to move on quickly later in 1998 to the design and printing stage.
It was not to be. Edisher, his wife, Nino and daughter, Marika were killed in a car accident in September 1998. Gigi, his son then just 17 survived but was very ill. Everyone who had known Edisher and his family were completely devastated.
At CPR, eventually, we made the decision to complete Edisher’s book to the best of our ability but knew this could only be done with the help of friends and colleagues, including Mtiebi, Edisher’s own Georgian singing and folk theatre ensemble and Joseph Jordania. We also turned to the growing number of singers in the UK who had studied with Edisher for help in collating the different notations of songs he had left with them. Most of these had been collected and notated from direct singing in various villages throughout Georgia where Edisher had conducted his research. Other songs came from Joseph’s notation and collections, and all these had to then be transcribed into the music notation programme ready for print. Joseph agreed to make the translations of the song words and also to write notes for each song explaining its source and style, just as Edisher had expected to do himself. The members of Mtiebi helped find missing songs and to select the ones they felt Edisher would have wanted to be in the collection.
This meeting with Mtiebi at Giving Voice in 1999, which should have been the next occasion Edisher would have been there, this time with his whole group, was particularly difficult for everyone. Gigi was now out of hospital and improved enough to be with Mtiebi, and singing in their concert. Despite our sadness it was also incredibly uplifting and moving to observe the care each member of the company took to support and ‘father’ him.
We had decided at the beginning that no one would take any kind of fee for the work of preparing the book. Everyone contributed their time willingly and from love and respect for Edisher and his family. The only costs therefore would be any materials, the translation, design and print. A royalty would be generated from the profit beyond these initial set up costs that would go to Gigi as some small help towards his education and living costs. It would not be a huge amount but we knew that it would nevertheless be a very useful regular contribution. Working between countries and languages it took almost four years to complete the book but from the moment it was published it has sold steadily in the UK and throughout the world until the last copy was taken off the shelf a few weeks ago.
Gigi studied for a degree in Ethnography and graduated in 2005 as his family would have hoped. He began to follow his father’s example and lead Mtiebi as well as the youth folk choir Amer-Immeri with which he had sung and danced as child himself. He toured with both ensembles and visited the UK regularly. He married and in 2011 became a father. But sadly within a few months of his son’s birth Gigi developed a very sudden illness and died in June 2012. He was only 30 years old.
As a consequence, the final royalties from the first version of 99 Georgian Songs have since been sent to his wife Magda and son Ilia and once it is published, they will continue to receive the royalties from the revised edition. We know that Magda is deeply appreciative of this gesture: it is evidence of the respect, gratitude and warmth music lovers felt for Edisher and for his son Gigi. Magda continues to work with Mtiebi and the youth choir.
From the moment it was published 99 Georgian Songs has had a very warm and enthusiastic response. We often receive letters from unexpected parts of the globe telling us how much pleasure it has given and how useful it is: just as Edisher wanted. We hope the revised edition will be even more useful with the extra 12 songs and some small corrections and clarifications.
CPR would like your help to fund the initial production costs which will allow us to publish the new edition. As I hope you can see this is not a commercial venture but is to ensure that Edisher’s legacy, a heartfelt passion and understanding of Georgian song can be communicated to many more singers and groups and that the book can continue to contribute in a small way to his family’s well-being.
We hope you think this is a worthwhile venture and will consider helping.