Georgian Chorus Branches Out

Last week in Georgian chorus we almost didn’t sing anything Georgian. First we learned a Greek folk song about the sea called Θάλασσα (Thalassa). Here it is being sung by an Orthodox youth choir in the UK:

Though we usually sing a cappella, this time we had a special guest accordionist our director knows from the UCLA Balkan (mostly Bulgarian) ensemble. Also, one of the grad students in my cohort served as our choir’s Greek pronunciation consultant (as he is in fact Greek). For the life of me I cannot pronounce Greek retracted [s]s.

Next we learned an Albanian folk song called Kopile Moj Kopile. Here’s a version of it, though we sang it in four parts:

The melody is curiously close to the Italian song/Israeli national anthem/theme from Die Moldau I blathered on about here. Since it sounds like this tune spread all over Europe back in the day, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s turning up in this Albanian folk song.

After our detour into Indo-European isolates, we returned to our Kartvelian roots by continuing to work on this Megrelian work song, ოჩეშხვეი (Och’eshkhvei). It’s really fun, especially the last part, which always reminds me of something French, namely Tri Yann’s Pastourelle de Saint-Julien-Marai (glad I figured that out, it was bothering me!).

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