In the book My Grandfather, Artem Erkomaishvili, the musical biography of the great Georgian singer-chanter Artem Erkomaishvili is described.
He was born to a traditional family of singers in 1887. He finished school for chanters and became a professional chanter thereafter (he knew more than 2,000 hymns). After the October Revolution, chanting was forbidden in Georgia. Artem formed a choir in Batumi that won in the first Olympiad of the Republic. Since that time, Artem Erkomaishvili’s choirs have always deserved the highest appraisals.
Though Artem experienced a difficult life that was quite painful and tragic, he channeled his talent in order to persevere. The book also comprises quite a few references about old singers-chanters.
This book informs readers about old traditions and customs like the Georgian New Year, Christmas, and Easter holidays. It also contains information on the rules for performing the traditional songs “Batonebo” (a healing song), “Alilo” (a Christmas song), “Elesa” (a work song), etc.
The book is also interesting in terms of its ethnographic point of view. Cultural activities such as tree cutting, wine-making, the distillation of spirits like Russian vodka, Japanese sake, and Georgian araki, the raising of the silkworms, or the carving of the chonguri (traditional Georgian musical instrument) are described and detailed within this monograph.
The musical epoch of Artem Erkomaishvili’s period, which was full of severe repressions under the Communist regime echoes throughout the pages. Church hymns, traditional songs, and anything connected to this question was strictly banned. Artem Erkomaishvili and his followers saved Georgian songs chants at their own risk. It is Artem’s outstanding contribution to the recognition of the Georgian polyphony as a masterpiece by UNESCO.
The book will act as a detailed reference for folklorists, and lovers of Georgian folk music will enjoy it very much. (Nova)