Sunday, September 30, 2012

Feature Interview with Zurab Tskrialashvili of Basiani

Photo © Levan Chkhartishvili

Ensemble Basiani is preparing to depart for the US tomorrow, kicking off an exciting tour across America that will showcase the unique musical treasury that infuses traditional life in Georgia. This heritage was recently featured when New Sounds, John Schaefer's indispensable broadcast on WNYC New York Public Radio, aired a recording of Ensemble Basiani's performance at Lincoln Center in 2010 of "Tsintsqaro" (cue media player to minute 52:10). In advance of the ensemble's arrival, here is an interview published by offering additional background about the history of Georgian polyphony.

Major support for Ensemble Basiani's US tour provided by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.

Acclaimed Georgian choral group Basiani making Ann Arbor debut

It's a tale with a happy ending: a centuries-old tradition, on the verge of extinction, rescued at the last hour by devotees who would not let it die. That's what happened to choral music from the area we know today as the Republic of Georgia. Declared a "masterpiece of the spiritual treasury of the world's 'non-material' culture" in 2001 by UNESCO, Georgian music-the sacred hymns, the secular songs, all highly polyphonic-almost didn't make it into the 20th century, let alone the 21st.

Among the latest to keep the flame alive are the members of Basiani, the all-male Georgian choral/folk ensemble whose 2010 appearance at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival "stole the main show," according to New York Times critic James Oestreich. Thursday evening, the group makes its Ann Arbor debut at a University Musical Society performance at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.

To find out more about this remarkable group, founded in 2000 as an outgrowth of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Male Choir in Tbilisi, Georgia, we turned to Zurab Tskrialashvili. A member of the cathedral choir since 1999 and of Basiani since 2002, Tskrialashvili took time to answer questions put to him via e-mail.

Q. Could you say a few words about the repertoire the group will perform in Ann Arbor? Is it all folk repertoire? And from all over Georgia? And from when does it date and what makes it distinctive?
A. The repertoire we perform is Georgian traditional sacred and secular music. Those are Georgian folk songs and church hymns. We always do try to choose the program which consists of the songs from different parts of all Georgia, to show to public the diverse music that characterizes each corner of the country Georgia. Quite different and unique harmony, music language and performing style make Georgian traditional music distinctive.

Though the roots are deeply seen in the ancient times, the repertoire we perform now could be considered as coming from the Middle Ages! The first live recordings were done in 1901 by the 90-100-years-old authentic Georgian performers which had been taught by the ancestors and forefathers. So it leads us in deepness of ages. I mention this because the repertoire we perform is directly revived from the recordings I noted. At this the church music to be considered as Old Georgian Professional Music has its own unique development way, which begins alongside with Christianity in Georgia and reaches the peak of development in the 10-12th centuries!

Q. How is the material collected and learned? Do you have someone who arranges it? Is it music of an oral tradition or all written out and notated?
A. Georgian traditional folk songs as well as the church hymns have been passed from generation to generation by the oral tradition during the ages. Since the 10th century Georgian chanters used musical symbols, the so-called "neumes," to help them memorize the melody; this type of written musical language differs from the Byzantine one. Unfortunately the key is not yet found to decipher above-mentioned "neumes"!

From the beginning of the 19th century, when the autocephalous status of the Georgian Church was abolished by Russia, Georgian chant was replaced by Russian so-called Partesnoe Peniye-and Georgian chant was seriously threatened. Georgian public figures-the Karbelashvili brothers, the Dumbadzes, Razhden Khundadze, Pilimon Koridze, Ekvtime Kereselidze and others-took upon themselves the hard task of transcribing over 8,000 examples of Georgian chant. Since this period the notated hymns are the main source of studying them from, alongside the small quantity of old singers' live recordings, made at the period of beginning-to-middle of 20th century.

As for the folk songs, there are a lot of materials, including audio/video tracks and notated songs, which become the main teachers for the group. Also the regions still keep the people who are the successors of oral singing traditions-so we keep the close relationship with them, studying quantity of patterns.

Q. It would be great if you could also say a few words about Georgian polyphony and what makes it distinctive.
A. The unique three-part musical language, different harmony, distinguished performing style, complicated composing structure and high developed polyphonic thought make Georgian polyphony distinctive. The witness of this easily could be the cases such as: increasing interest in Georgian polyphony of the foreign researchers; creating the Georgian singing choirs by the foreigners themselves in France, UK, Canada, Australia etc.; international acknowledgement of Georgian polyphony by UNESCO in 2001; sending of Georgian song "Chakrulo" to the space by the Americans in 1977, as a part of humans' high-music civilization; and the last-performing Georgian polyphony at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival alongside the J.S. Bach's compositions in 2010!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rhinoceros en Californie!

With Théâtre de la Ville making their American premiere on the West Coast, David Eden Productions is delighted to report news of a remarkably warm welcome and a rapturous response from audiences and critics alike for the company's production of Rhinoceros.
With two performances kicking off the inaugural season of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP-UCLA), as part of the amazing program Kristy Edmunds has planned in Los Angeles, Ionesco's words demonstrated the potency and poignancy of his dramatic vision. Charles McNulty observed in The Los Angeles Times that this "smart, sleek production," directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, "allows us to connect to Ionesco's deeply human vision," with "Serge Maggiani beautifully captur[ing] Bérenger's bedraggled, unheroic humanity."
The company and crew are now preparing for their three performances in the Bay Area, presented by Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus on September 27 (8pm), September 28 (8pm), and September 29 (2pm). Cal Performances' director, Matías Tarnopolsky, recently spoke about their fall season in San Francisco Classical Voice, and the much anticipated engagement has already been highlighted as a "must see" event by the critics and editors of the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, The Examiner, and Theatre Bay Area.

Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota (l) and Serge Maggiani (r) speak with The Honorable Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris (far left)

Adding to the excitement for this week's performances in Berkeley is the visit to the Bay Area by the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, who will join the company at their opening night performance.

The production will be hosted by BAM as part of the Next Wave Festival on October 4, 5, and 6. The following week, David Eden Productions will take the touring party to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the final American performances will be presented by University Musical Society (UMS) on October 11, 12, and 13. We very much hope you will have an opportunity to experience this magnificent theatrical accomplishment. Visit YouTube to see video clips from the production and to find footage from archival interviews with Eugene Ionesco.

The US tour of Rhinoceros is made possible by support from Institut Français and City of Paris. Additional help has been provided by Vivendi, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States and the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ensemble Basiani from Tbilisi, Georgia

Photo © George Demetrashvili
David Eden Productions will present this October a major American tour, bringing the incomparable Ensemble Basiani to eight leading performing arts presenters across the US. This tour is a rare opportunity for American audience to experience the centuries-old tradition of polyphonic singing that remains a defining aspect of secular and spiritual life in Georgia and an important part of the world's musical heritage, as reflected in the 2001 designation by UNESCO of Georgian polyphonic singing as one of ninety Masterpieces of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Basiani's 2010 appearance at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, led James Oestreich of The New York Times to claim that the Georgians stole the show "against strong competition," with the ensemble "singing in close harmony, presented sacred and folk music displaying polyphonic devices ranging from simple drones to intricately interwoven melodies, which often crossed or combined to produce harmonies pungent to the Western ear." Oestreich's colleague, Vivien Schweitzer, noted in her review that as the "wild and unfamiliar yodeling unfolded over startling harmonies and complex rhythmic patterns," she might have mistaken the work for that of "some new experimental composer."

Ensemble Basiani's tour commences in Ann Arbor, Michigan under the auspices of University Musical Society (UMS), with a public performance scheduled for October 4, before the tour continues to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Champaign, Illinois, the Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota, Florida, University of Florida Performing Arts in Gainesville, Florida, the Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hanover, New Hampshire, Cal Performances in Berkeley, California, UCSB Arts & Lectures in Santa Barbara, California, and finally to New York City where the ensemble will appear as a part of the Lincoln Center White Light Festival on October 27. Full details of scheduled performances are included below; the ensemble will also be participating in various masterclasses, workshops, and classroom visits while on the campuses of these universities and colleges.

Visit Basiani's page on Facebook to see video clips and photographs.

Major support for Ensemble Basiani's US tour provided by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.
Ensemble Basiani
October 2012 US Tour

Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 7:30pm
St. Francis of Assisi Church
University Musical Society (UMS)
Ann Arbor, MI

Tuesday, October 09, 2012 at 7:30pm
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Foellinger Great Hall
Champaign, IL

Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 5:00pm
Friday, October 12, 2012 at 8:00pm
Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 2:00pm
Historic Asolo Theater
Ringling International Arts Festival
Sarasota, FL

Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 2:00pm
University Auditorium
University of Florida Performing Arts
Gainesville, FL

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 7:00pm
Hopkins Center for the Arts, Spaulding Auditorium
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH

Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 8:00pm
First Congregational Church
Cal Performances, University of California
Berkeley, CA

Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 4:00pm and 7:00pm
First United Methodist Church
UCSB Arts & Lectures
Santa Barbara, CA

Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 7:30pm
Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Lincoln Center, White Light Festival
New York, NY

Monday, September 17, 2012

Théâtre de la Ville Arrives in Los Angeles with Rhinoceros

Photo: ©Jean-Louis Fernandez

"The return of international theater at UCLA? Hallelujah!"
--Charles McNulty, The Los Angeles Times, Fall Arts Preview                                     

This week, Théâtre de la Ville brings their American premiere tour of Eugene Ionesco's absurdist classic, Rhinoceros, directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, to launch the 2012-2013 season of CAP UCLA. Featured as a critic's pick in the Fall Arts Preview of The Los Angeles Times, Charles McNulty describes the play as, "a bracing comic demonstration of the perils of conformity." Commenting on the production's premiere in Paris, Michel Cournot of Le Monde noted:

The staging of Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota is a masterpiece. The play is certainly not simple, but with him everything is clear, everything in a single stroke. It is as if we were in the very souls rather than looking from outside.… There is a magic embrace between the show and the spectator.

Now, this definitive production visits the US for a highly limited run of just eleven performances in four of America's leading venues. David Eden Productions is proud to bring this landmark tour to:
Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA) on September 21 and 22
Cal Performances at University of California, Berkeley on September 27, 28, and 29
University Musical Society (UMS) in Ann Arbor on October 11, 12, and 13
Additional performances will be presented in Brooklyn, New York by BAM on October 4, 5, and 6.

In advance of the tour, director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota made time in his busy schedule as director of both Théâtre de la Ville and the Festival d'Automne à Paris to offer some insight to
Firstly, I hope the play’s audience will thoroughly enjoy the performance of Rhinoceros, because it is both a tragic and comic allegory that intertwines several levels of feelings, languages, impressions and interpretations. A mixture of genres that ranges from the Marx Brothers to Kafka. I also hope that the audience will enjoy discovering or rediscovering this text and this author through the work of the group of actors that have been working with me for many years. Together, we have sought to make a theater of pleasure, which would be neither bleak nor desperate, and that embraces from a dialectic perspective man’s cowardice and conformism as well as his hypocrisy. A theater that casts an acute look on the world and the individual, but decidedly retains the power of inventive fantasy and freedom.
Whereas it is to say if today’s world is bleaker than that of 1959… We all know that history is always “full of sound and fury,” to quote Shakespeare. One always moves ahead ridding ourselves of crimes and monstrosities, and one always breathes more lightly when a sudden unexpected event happens to convince us that mankind still has much progress to make. Moreover, as history moves ahead, some things are gained, others lost, and one does not always know what is lost and what is gained. We could nonetheless do with a little joy from time to time. This is also a good reason for us to do theater.
Here are some of Demarcy-Mota's additional observations, in French, from the recent documentary film, Eugène Ionesco, quoi de neuf?: 

Follow @DEP_News on Twitter to keep tabs on this tour, and bookmark

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Théâtre de la Ville-Paris in US Premiere Production

Théâtre de la Ville Set to Arrive with Ionesco's Rhinoceros

The Théâtre de la Ville ensemble in Ionesco's Rhinoceros Photo: ©Jean-Louis Fernandez
David Eden Productions is thrilled to bring to American audiences this September and October the US premiere production of Théâtre de la Ville's recent staging of Ionesco's Rhinoceros. This ambitious and authoritative interpretation gleans new immediacy, luminous clarity and profound insight from this masterwork of the Absurdist canon. Interpreted with agility and nuance by a close-knit ensemble dedicated to a theatrical vision framed by director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota and his creative collaborators, Rhinoceros presents a haunting and arresting world that resonates with meaning, humor and compassion, shedding new light on the singular genius of Eugene Ionesco.

This exclusive tour opens on September 21 and 22, 2012 to launch the season of Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA), with the tour continuing to include presentations in Berkeley at Cal Performances on September 27, 28, and 29 (matinee), and in Ann Arbor at University Musical Society (UMS) on October 11, 12, and 13. Additional performances will be presented by BAM on October 4, 5, and 6. Tickets are now on sale for all presentations. Click through below for a video clip from the production:

For more information, visit our previous announcement here.

The US tour is made possible by support from Institut Français and City of Paris. Additional help has been provided by Vivendi, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States and the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques.

Monday, September 3, 2012

About David Eden Productions

About David Eden Productions

The Maly Drama Theatre in Gaudeamus, Lev Dodin's stage adaptation inspired
by Sergei Kaledin's story, Construction Battalion (Photo: V.I. Vassiliev)  
David Eden Productions, Ltd. has been one of the leading American organizations devoted to producing international work for over 25 years. Most recently, David Eden Productions has produced US tours of Gate Theatre Dublin's Endgame/Watt and Krapp's Last Tape (2011), and Galway's Druid in productions of The Cripple of Inishmaan (five month tour in 2011), The Walworth Farce (2009), and DruidSynge: The Shadow of the Glen and The Playboy of the Western World (2008). In 2012, David Eden Productions has been active with a US tour of Batsheva Dance Company, the BAM presentation of the Maly Drama Theatre’s Three Sisters, and for the autumn, premiere US tours for Georgia’s folkmusic Ensemble Basiani, Théâtre de la Ville’s production of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, and an exclusive West Coast engagement for Gate Theatre Dublin's production of Krapp's Last Tape, starring John Hurt, at Center Theatre Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Other recent tours include Maly Drama Theatre's Uncle Vanya (2010), Gate Theatre Dublin’s Waiting for Godot (2006), Declan Donnellan’s Twelfth Night (2006), Propeller’s The Winter’s Tale (2005), Piccolo Teatro di Milano’s Arlecchino (2005), the Russian Patriarchate Choir of Moscow (2007), the State Ballet of Georgia with the legendary Bolshoi prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili (2007, 2008, 2009), and the Batsheva Dance Company (1998, 2004, 2009). In 2004, David Eden curated Lincoln Center Festival’s Ashton Celebration, a two-week centennial retrospective at the Metropolitan Opera House celebrating master choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton.

Past highlights include the twelve-city premiere tour of Rezo Gabriadze’s Forbidden Christmas or The Doctor and The Patient, starring Mikhail Baryshnikov (2004); tours of London’s Royal Court Theatre in Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis (2004); Declan Donnellan's staging of Boris Godunov (2003); the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella (2003); the Bolshoi Ballet (2000 & 2002); Gate Theatre Dublin’s "Beckett Festival" (2000); and American premiere presentations of Rezo Gabriadze’s The Battle of Stalingrad (2000) and Autumn of My Springtime (2002).

For the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, David Eden Productions has mounted festival programs including, Arts of the United Kingdom (2001), Island: Arts from Ireland (2000) and Art of the State: Israel at 50 (1998). David Eden Productions has also been responsible for the US presentations of the Maly Drama Theatre’s landmark productions, Gaudeamus (BAM Next Wave Festival/US Tour, 1994) and Brothers and Sisters (Lincoln Center Festival, 2000); and exclusive American engagements at the Kennedy Center of A Hotel Room in the Town of NN, adapted from Gogol’s Dead Souls by Valery Fokin of Moscow’s Meyerhold Arts Centre (1999), and the Théâtre Nanterre Amandiers production of Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance (1999). Notable projects presented at  BAM include  the Kirov Ballet/Vaganova Ballet Academy Project (1998) and the touring “Russian Village Festival” of folk arts (1990, 1991, 1995 & 1997).

David Eden Productions is also actively engaged with an expansive network of arts festivals, presenting venues, government and consular bodies, and cultural promoters—as well as producing companies—around the world. These relationships have been strengthened through organized overseas visits for delegations of arts professionals and successful presentations of significant work in theater and dance. In this manner, David Eden Productions remains dedicated to strengthening cultural exchange and instigating new opportunities both in the US and abroad.

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