Release date: 22nd April 2022
Cat ID: NXW76162-2
Label: Naxos World
April 22nd, 2022, sees the release of ‘Supra’ – the latest album from Georgian choir ‘Iberi.’
Iberi is a male-voice choir led by former rugby player and life-long singer Buba Murgulia. Like most young Georgians, Buba grew up surrounded by singing. “Music is everywhere here”, he explains. Long inspired by his homeland’s rich and diverse musical heritage, in 2012, Buba brought together the men that would form ‘Iberi.’ More than just an exciting and entertaining stage act, the group have become fast friends. Through their harmonious voices and joyful and exuberant performances, one can quickly feel a strong sense of unity and camaraderie.
Drawing on the vibrant cultural history of Georgia, the choir specialises in a wide range of song styles, often with instrumental accompaniment. Polyphonic singing is a significant component of Georgian music, and maybe why many consider it so compelling and pleasing to the ear. Mostly sung in three parts – although sometimes in more - this technique is distinctive of Georgia and not found in surrounding countries. The significance of this unique practice is such that it has been placed on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.
In Georgian polyphonic singing, the middle voice often carries the main melody. At the same time, the higher and lower parts support or intertwine to create a tapestry of sound that at once can have a rugged quality and still subtle refinement. Perhaps, one of the more exciting facets of Georgian singing is the ever-present opportunity for improvisation – a chance that Iberi never fail to embrace. While they remain entirely respectful to the traditions instilled in them, their impromptu approach brings out the breath-taking qualities of Iberi’s collective voice. It allows for utterly unique performances each time they take to the stage. Beyond their passion and talent for music, Iberi also offer an unbridled charisma that has won them fans worldwide – from Europe to the United States and Asia to Australia.
As Murgulia points out, “We strive for a more extroverted, open-hearted and cheerful stage presence. We like explaining the songs and getting the audience to sing along.” Iberi merge these skills and motivations to bring to life a variety of church music, lullabies, work songs, historical ballads, contemporary urban tunes and, perhaps most significantly for this latest release, songs for feasting.
While the word supra literally means ‘tablecloth’, it is commonly translated as ‘a feast.’ The feast is an integral part of Georgian society - an age-old tradition that Georgians experience from childhood. While there is much singing, wine and food, there is a strong educational value. Such occasions allow children to learn from their elders the essential values of life, such as love, respect and truth and gain knowledge of their parents, ancestors, and motherland.
This album ‘Supra’ is a selection of songs that one could expect to hear at such a celebration, shared with pride and passion from Georgia’s own ‘Iberi.’