Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This weekend, a trio of American musicians is coming to Swarthmore to introduce our campus to a cultural experience: Georgian music.
Trio Kavkasia will perform in Lang Concert Hall at 3PM on Sunday, and the group will hold a workshop at 2PM in Bond Memorial Hall for students with an interest in learning to sing Georgian music.
Formed in 1994, Trio Kavkasia is a professional vocal trio that specializes in studying and performing the traditional music of Georgia. They perform concerts and lead workshops across North America and have made extended visits to Georgia to study with native singers.
Together, the three Americans have more than forty years of experience singing Georgian music and in 1997, they were awarded the Silver Medal of the Georgian Ministry of Culture for popularizing the nation’s traditional music across the world.
Becky Wright ’11, a Linguistics major, helped coordinate the event through the Cooper Foundation. Her primary motivation for bringing Trio Kavkasia to Swarthmore is her desire to hear them live and experience the musical culture with her peers at Swarthmore.
This event will be particularly relevant given the recent political conflict between Georgia and Russia. The music will bring a tangible idea of Georgian culture and students “feel connected to the culture and to people who sang it before,” Wright explains.
As a nation, Georgia is geographically located in the crossroads of cultures but its music has remained intact due to its mountain range. Georgian music is an ancient tradition that “grew out of the ground and has been handed down to people through generations,” Wright explains.
To Western listerners, Georgian music may sound dissonant because Georgian music uses a different scale and the musical intervals may fall slightly sharp or flat on our ears. However, Wright recommends to bring an open mind and elaborates, “We can put together the piano, but that’s not only way music can be.”
Swarthmore students will listen to a variety of songs, including songs of love, work, and the liturgy. From dark and haunting to lyrical and exuberant, the music is known to express a range of emotions that may “send shivers down your spine,” Wright describes.