Are 12 Georgian folk singers and enthusiastic proponents of Georgian polyphonic song, which has been recognized by UNESCO as a masterpiece of “intangible heritage.” Created in 2012, the name of the choir derives from the word “Iberia,” Georgia’s original name. Iberi’s extensive repertoire includes songs from across that country demonstrating different kinds of polyphony, and while the tradition is essentially secular, it includes ancient and rarely performed sacred and pagan songs. Iberi is combining a quiet theatricality and amusing vocal acrobatics. The dominant sound of the group focuses on breathtaking harmonies, as one, two, or three vocalists deliver soaring melodic leads while the rest of the group sing lushly striated drones or contrapuntal curlicues and lockstep patterns in exhilarating fashion to create a mind-boggling array of rhythms, melodies and shifting timbres.
Much like skilled jazz players, Iberi are passionate about an often forgotten traditional approach to improvisation as a way to uncover new aspects and colors in well-loved pieces. In Georgian traditional singing, there is a lot of space and possibility to improvise by mixing diverse versions of one song and adding our own touch.
Part of that touch can be felt when the group takes the stage. “We strive for a more extroverted, open hearted and cheerful stage presence,” Murgulia notes. “We really like explaining songs and getting the audience to sing along.” Iberi opens up Georgia and its songs to the world, bringing their vitality to festivals and concert venues around the globe.
Iberi has recorded a beautiful video for online concert in the Georgian wine region Kakheti in the wine cellar of Schuchman Weins – the winery, specialising on traditional clay pot wine fermentation (qvevri). The content has not been published publicly.