Zedashe Ensemble is a vocal and dance group based in the eastern medieval fortress city of Sighnaghi, Caucasus Georgia. Directed by Ketevan Mindorashvili, the ensemble was founded in the mid-1990’s to sing polyphonic chants, unique to Georgia, that were largely lost during the Communist era. The complex three-part melodies date back to pre-Christian times and comprise music sung for the Orthodox liturgical services. Zedashe’s repertoire also includes folk songs, instrumental melodies and accompanying dances, which were collected from old publications and learned from village song-masters from around the many diverse regions of the country.
Zedashe’s initial inspiration drew from songs of Kiziqian region, where their hometown Sighnaghi is located. Over the years though they have expanded to also include song and dance traditions of the various regions in Georgia, including Rach’a-Lechkhumi, Guria, Kartli, and Abkhazia. They preserve the unique musical and dance techniques of each region, as well as a variety of instrumental traditions: panduri (Kakhetian lute), chonguri (Gurian lute), ch’iboni (goat-skin bagpipes), accordion, diplipito (drum), and doli (drum).
The group’s name is taken from the special earthenware jugs – zedashes – that were buried under the family home for the purpose of making wine. The wine made in zedashes was especially for the veneration of ancestors, and the tapping of the zedashe every year carried great ritual significance.
Besides numerous appearances throughout the Republic of Georgia, Zedashe has toured internationally with appearances at major festivals and universities in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Latvia, and the United States. In addition to their performances, Zedashe often holds day- to week-long workshops, either connecting with specific local choirs or simply open to those interested in the Georgian culture. Zedeashe members also run a music and dance school out of Sighnaghi for kids and in 2013 saw the debut of the children’s choir on the album Intangible Pearls.
Zedashe’s will self-release their 7th full length album “Our Earth and Water” in September 2015 and make their 5th tour to the US. For more information please contact email@example.com.
Director of the Zedashe Ensemble, Ketevan was born in Sighnaghi and raised in a traditional singing family. Keto showed a gift for singing since childhood and continued to study music technique extensively in university. She devoted herself to preserving traditions on the brink of disappearance, and has become known as a singer and a teacher of Georgian folk music, particularly the fluid ornamentation of eastern folk songs. She has a deep knowledge of ancient church chant, and is a master of the panduri, the three-stringed lute from the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti. Keto has searched valleys and mountains for ancient polyphony, collecting folk songs and chants, as well as writing her own music within the tradition. Today she hosts students from all over the world in her native Sighnaghi and travels internationally leading tours of Zedashe and teaching workshops. She has appeared on all Zedashe recordings to date, and has participated in numerous tours to the United States, United Kingdom, and throughout Europe.
voice, garmoni & pandori
Tamila began studying music at the Music College in Sighnaghi, continuing in Tbilisi to study piano at the Medea Phaniashvili Art Academy. She has chanted at St. George’s church in Sighnaghi since 1995, where she began working with Ketevan Mindorashvili, and is one of the founding members of the Zedashe Ensemble. Tamila has been featured on all of the Zedashe albums since the first recording in 1999 and has participated on Zedashe tours to the U.K. (2002), United States (2007, 2010, 2013), Netherlands (2008, 2011), and Latvia (2013). Tamila currently works as a piano teacher at the music school in Sighnaghi, and continues to chant at St. George’s church. She is an experienced workshop-leader, and sings mostly first voice in liturgical music.
dance & drums
Vano began studying dance at the Academy of Culture in Tbilisi after completing his army service on a submarine. He studied for six years at the Academy with such renowned teachers as Rezo Chanishvili, Tengiz Suxishvili, Ucha Dvalishvili, Ucha Kurashvili, and Phridon Sulaberidze. Phridon Sulaberidze was one of the master choreographers of the period and taught Vano many dances from the Kartli region directly out of the Academy’s archives. After completing his studies, Vano joined the Rustavi national folk ensemble. After joining Zedashe in 2007, Vano participated in tours to the United States (2007, 2010, 2013), to the Netherlands (2008, 2011), and to Latvia (2013). Vano currently teaches dance to students in the Zedashe folk school and to foreign students. He is an incredible drummer.
voice & dance
Irakli Kanchurishvili is one of the first members of Zedashe, having joined as a dancer in 2006. Having studied with Vano Chincharauli since the age of five and raised in a family that practiced traditional folk singing and dancing, Irakli is a skilled dancer and now sings bass as well. He has toured with Zedashe to the United States (2007, 2010, 2013), to the Netherlands (2008, 2011), and to Latvia (2013). In addition to performing with the ensemble, Irakli teaches dancing workshops with fellow dancers Vano and Tekla, and is currently studying the ancient Georgian diplipito drum.
Teona grew up in Sighnaghi in a family that had a well-preserved tradition of folk dancing. She began to dance with Zedashe in 2006 and has been a soloist with the ensemble since 2011, showing especial attention to differences between dance traditions among various regions throughout Georgia. Tekla has toured with Zedashe to the USA (2013) and to Latvia (2013). She completed her master’s degree in psychology and currently works in the folk school, teaching dance to the younger students and to foreign students.
dance, voice, bagpipes & panduri
Having continued proudly in his grandfather’s footsteps, Alex is one of the first students of the Zedashe folk school. From the beginning he had a particular interest in studying folk instruments, and currently specializes in chonguri, panduri, and ch’iboni, as well as being a talented singer and dancer. Alex traveled to the mountains of Ach’ara in 2013 to study with master ch’iboni maker and player, Bichiko Diasamidze. Alex has participated in Zedashe’s tours to the United States (2013) and Latvia (2013), and has been featured on the two most recent albums (2013 and 2015) as first voice, second voice, bass, and instrumentalist. Alex grew up in Sighnaghi and is currently a university student in Tbilisi.
dance, voice, bagpipes & panduri
Vali has studied in the Zedashe folk school since 2007, having joined the dance ensemble that same year. He traveled with Alex to study the ch’iboni bagpipes in the mountains of Ach’ara with Bichiko Diasamidze. Recently, Vali traveled with Tamila to Alvani to study Georgian accordion. In addition to ch’iboni and garmonium, Vali is a talented panduri and chonguri player. He went on his first tour with Zedashe in 2013 to Latvia, and recorded his first CD with Zedashe in 2015. Vali is currently a high school student in Sighnaghi.
voice & dance
Guliko grew up in Sighnaghi and was one of the first students of the Zedashe school. She specializes in the highly ornamented Kakhetian style, a tricky style of Georgian song that requires particular skill. Guliko sings first voice, in addition to yodeling and dancing. She participated in the 2013 tour to Latvia, and recorded her first CD with Zedashe in 2015.