An ancient center of enlightenment, Anchiskhati Church, which dates from the sixth century, is the oldest Orthodox Christian church in the Georgian capital of Tblisi. The name Anchiskhati means icon (khati) of Anchi, which refers to an icon of Jesus not made by human hand (akin to Torin's shroud). Georgian church chanting is on of the country's chief artistic traditions and widely regarded as unique among world music's. Nothing like its polyphony, with three independent melodies juxtaposed in harmony, exists anywhere else in the world. Some musicologists believe that polyphony originated in Georgia before spreading to Europe.
In any case most experts agree that polyphony was established in Georgia by about the seventh century three hundred years before it developed in Western Europe. The church music and the folk music of Georgia are closely intertwined, and Anchiskhati Church's choir sings them both boldly. The common roots of both kinds of music in Georgia's history lie with an ancient modal system, which predates western octaves and common practice harmonies. The Anchiskhati singers are strongly committed to the authenticity of their singing. They gather their material from archival recordings and, whenever possible, travel to different areas of Georgia to study church music and folk songs in their many regional variations.
They have also learned to play the instruments traditionally used to accompany folk singing the chonguri and panduri (both small lute-like stringed instruments). Although the Anchiskhati Choir has been singing together for the past ten years, traveling and recording as frequently as possible, their music is still relatively unknown to western ears. They recorded an album of Easter hymns in 1991 and Christmas songs in 1992, both on the Soviet Melodiya label. On January 1, 1994 they sang a New Year's Day Mass in the Orthodox Cathedral in Athens, Greece. In 1995 they recorded a CD for Sony classical, which sadly still awaits release. Darbazi, Toronto's Georgian Chorus, and Deep Down Productions are proud to cosponsor the Anchiskhati Choir's first CD.
This CD features a collection of Orthodox hymns from various monasteries and schools throughout Georgia. It is an unprecedented recording of the riches in Georgian church music. The Anchiskhati Church The Anchiskhati Basilica of St. Mary is the oldest surviving church in Tbilisi, Georgia. It dates from the sixth century and has largely preserved its original architecture. According to the old Georgian annals, the church was built by the king Dachi of Iberia (circa 522-534) who had made Tbilisi his capital.
The name Anchiskhati (i.e., icon of Anchi) comes from the treasured icon of Savior created by the twelfth-century goldsmith Beka Opizari at the Anchi Monastery in Klarjeti, what is now northeast Turkey. The icon was moved in Tbilisi in 1664 so as not to be destroyed by the Ottoman invasion, and was preserved at St Mary’s church for centuries (it is presently on display in the Georgian National Museum of Fine Arts). There is a brick belfry near the Anchiskhati Church that was build by the catholicos Domenti in 1675. The look of the church was drastically changed in the 1870s. From 1958 to 1964 restoration works took place, which changed the view of the church back to the seventeenth-century version. Read more on Last.fm.
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