Giorgi Donadze: "Folklore is a Living Organism & Caring for it is a Constant Process"

The creative activities of the Folklore State Center of Georgia are multifaceted: Georgian folk music, ecclesiastical chanting, oral speech, choreography, fine arts and folk arts, festival organization and more.

One of the main directions of the center is choir, serving to preserve and popularize unique Georgian songs. Currently, there are 21 functioning schools in Georgia, with up to 800 pupils studying Georgian songs and traditional chants for free: “For us, choir schools were and are a priority. The first school opened in Khobi in 2015 and other regions followed. By the end of 2018, we expect to have 24 schools,” says Giorgi Donadze, Director of the Center.

One imperative detail is that this year the International Black Sea Folklore International Festival will not be held, which is partly linked to the scarcity of finances. The Director of the Center, Giorgi Donadze, talks about the challenges, activities and priorities, important projects and future plans of the Center.

The Black Sea Folklore International Festival was founded in 2016 due to a love of folklore. Georgia is a country of rich folklore traditions. The aim was to introduce the Georgian stage to the folklore traditions of various countries. Georgia has hosted the festival twice.

“From year to year, the number of participants has increased as has the scale of the event. Adjara and Guria were actively involved in the festival last year. The final part of the concert ended with a grandiose gala concert in the Black Sea Arena. In the last two years, singing and dancing ensembles from countries such as Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Armenia, Azerbaijan and others came to Georgia. In short, the International Festival justified its name and united the folklore of different countries. Increased awareness and new challenges emerged. "We want this festival to be more varied and interesting in the future, Donadze says. "We are aware that organizing such a large-scale event is a big responsibility, which is why we decided to host it once every two years. We will use this year for preparatory works. The third Black Sea Folklore International Festival will be held in the summer of 2019. We think the diverse and interesting program, as well as the affordable prices of tickets, will further strengthen viewers’ interest. I would like to emphasize once again that the reason for the festival's not happening this year is not lack of finances."

One of the priorities of the Folklore Center is the Folklore National Festival, which is held every 4 years. how are you preparing?

Organizing festivals is a great tradition in the Folklore Center. The National Festival gives stimulus to regions. Moreover, it is essential in order to maintain and popularize folklore. Unique samples were recorded and archived during the previous festival. The National Festival is not an entertaining concert, which we attend just to applause: its direct aim is to uphold folklore traditions for future generations. With the aim of raising motivation, we will be rewarding the best of the festivals. In 2015-2016, we provided quite a number of solid cash prizes. At the Festival of 2019 - 2020, I am sure colossal material will be added to the archive of the Folklore Center.

One of the most distinguished projects of the center is the Ozurgeti Folklore Center, which is set to open in September

I think the representatives of the Folklore State Center will revive Guria in western Georgia. Ozurgeti is the main communications center for western schools of Georgia. Exhibitions and concerts will be moved from Tbilisi. The Ozurgeti center is 1300 square meters and boasts a recording studio equipped with modern technology, exhibition and concert halls, a choir school and an administration department. The building is truly unique. The main concerts of the Black Sea Folklore International Festival will be held in Ozurgeti Folklore Center in 2019. I would also like to host scientific conferences here and invite foreign specialists to share their knowledge and experience.

And the Folklore State Center of Georgia will soon have its own concert hall in Tbilisi

This will be a hall with a recording studio. Renovations will be completed by the end of the year. It’s a unique stage, a copy of the Opera created on Vakhtang Chabukiani’s initiative.

With the financing of the Ministry of Culture, the Folklore State Center will have a special hall, with modern equipment, sound isolation and a recording studio. The annual evening of Vakhushti Kotetishvili folk poetry will be held in 2018. Eter Tataraidze is working on this and tries to organize a different evening every year, which is not easy. And unique samples of oral fiction were printed with the help of the charity fund "Georgian Galoba."

The Center conducted a three-stage complex expedition in four areas of folklore in the mountainous Adjara, Shuakhevi municipality. Does the center plan similar expeditions to other regions?

The expedition was conducted in three different stages in four different fields. The complex expedition was carried out in high mountainous Adjara for the first time. The first stage was dedicated to music and choreography, and the next stages were dedicated to fine and applied arts and oral arts. Complex expeditions require a lot of time and resources, this was a first attempt and I think it was successful. With the funding of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Adjara, we created a very interesting publication in which the results of the expedition are outlined. In the future, we plan to conduct complex expeditions in Keda, Khulo and later in Svaneti. We want to visit all the regions; there are research materials everywhere. The main thing is the interest and support of municipalities.

This year, a reference book of folklore ensembles will be created to inform visitors. Tell us about it

I think the existence of this reference book will be a significant step forward. The National Tourism Administration of Georgia is involved in the project. With their help, the reference book will be distributed in every hotel and will be available for tourists. This will facilitate the dissemination of information about ensembles and their activities outside of Georgia.

Tell us about your future projects and plans

Folklore is a living organism and caring for it is a constant process. Some projects, for instance choir schools, cannot be completed as the number of schools increases. The same can be said about expeditions, since the end of one is often the beginning of a new expedition. In the future, we will aim to organize more festivals. An essential part is dedicated to the Black Sea Folklore International Festival in 2019, which, as I mentioned, has been initiated already and is being prepared for.

By Anna Zhvania

23 July 2018 18:59