Virtuoso Georgian Pianist to Present VOISA at Black Sea Arena

Exclusive interview

On August 4, within the frames of the government’s ‘Check in Georgia’ program, renowned Georgian pianist Giorgi Mikadze will present his ambitious project VOISA at the Black Sea Arena to a Georgian and international audience. It is an unprecedented musical project of high importance since it aims to introduce Georgia to the world and become the country’s cultural trademark. The person behind the project is a young virtuoso pianist, composer, MA graduate at Berklee Collage of Music and Manhattan School of Music, and Yamaha Jazz artist Giorgi Mikadze who has created an exceptional musical project in collaboration with his All-Star Band and ensemble Basiani.

The project debuted in New York’s prestigious concert hall ShapeShifter Lab in 2016 and later in 2017 was presented to the wider audience in China’s capital Beijing, to great success. The concert celebrated the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and China as a part of events dedicated to the Independence Day of Georgia.

Each piece of VOISA stands out for its distinct genre, style and theme. Within the framework of the project, Mikadze created six compositions, including “Shiola”, dedicated to the Patriarch of Georgia, “Zezva and Mzia” dedicated to the remains of the most ancient man and woman, found in Dmanisi, Georgia, “Biba” composed on Svan motives from Georgia’s Svaneti Region, “Azmati” on the Abkhazian topic while “Natrva” (Wish) was inspired by the 850th anniversary of the 12th century Georgian author Shota Rustaveli.

This year, VOISA, to be performed at Georgia’s grandiose concert hall Black Sea Arena located on the Black Sea coast, will be marking the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia. The artistic side of project is carried out by well-known Georgian director Basa Potskhishvili. The lineup of the concert is as follows: Giorgi Mikadze – Musical Director, Ensemble “Basiani” The All-Star Band: Roni Eytan -Harmonica, Shachar Elnatan – Guitar, Antoine Katz – Bass, Dito Sakandelidze - Percussion, Fernando Saci - Percussion, Zachary Mullings – Drums, Raydar Ellis – MC. Tickets are available online at

GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Giorgi Mikadze about himself and the event.

Tell us about the path from childhood to your dream university, Berklee

I was born and raised in a musical family. I started playing piano at the age of 3. When discovering my musical talent, my parents had no doubt that my life and future would be directed towards music. I was educated as classical musician in Georgia; I attended 10 Classes Music School in Tbilisi and then graduated from the V.Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire. Before moving to the US, I earned a number of prizes and became laureate at international festivals several times. I was a lead singer in the Kakhidze Music Center Boys Choir and was fortunate enough to acquire knowledge from amazing personalities and high level professionals. They gave me a basis that I developed and mastered when studying in the US.

Berklee Collage of Music is one of the most prestigious contemporary music collages, dreamed about by many musicians, including me. Luckily, I was accepted by the college and granted 100% tuition scholarship. In 2014, when I successfully graduated from the Composition Faculty of Berklee Collage of Music, legendary Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, who was specially invited guest at the ceremony, congratulated me on the completion of studies in person. Then I continued my studies and in order to pursue an MA degree enrolled at New York’s Manhattan School of Music, notable for its musical traditions, where I turned out to be the only student among 3000 applicants around the world who received the scholarship for two-year studies. I then won the competition of the International Education Center and received funding to cover the living expenses. I’m extremely glad to now be a visiting professor at Berklee Collage of Music where I teach within the summer program whenever I have free time.

How did you become so successful at such a young age?

Success is a continuous process of developing and going through various new stages, by constantly working on perfecting oneself. First of all, as a student success comes at a very high cost. This includes an extremely stressful and tense environment, fast pace of life, enormous amount of study materials, sleepless nights, being competitive and feeling constant pressure that many students cannot overcome physically. Fortunately, I managed to handle all these after overcoming many obstacles and difficulties.

How was VOISA born and what is its mission?

Generally, as musician, I love experiments. I’d been thinking about VOISA for a while, but to make it happen and to correctly approach that amazing and phenomenal Georgian folklore, I had to be professionally ready. Two years ago, after taking part in organizing many mega shows, I decided to carry out this project in collaboration with the Basiani ensemble and my All Star Band. VOISA is a multi genre project and a kind of cultural collaboration. I tried to harmonically synthesize centuries-old Georgian folk music and contemporary music such as jazz, funk, R&B, hip-hop, electronic music and micro-tonal directions. The project aimed at creating an international high-end musical product based on Georgian folklore and songs, that would become a trademark of Georgia through which the world would become acquainted with Georgia. VOISA is a transformation of traditional Georgian culture in today’s globalized era. I would love for this new musical product to be promoted on the world music market through this project. As for my future plans, apart from working and performing abroad, I have many plans related to my country, which I will unveil in detail to GEORGIA TODAY’s readers later.

By Lika Chigladze

19 July 2018 19:33