Wednesday, July 11, 2018
A Heart Massage
That is how a new friend described Ialoni, the female Georgian choir that sang last night (see my Facebook for a video or go to their website. I think the thing that was most contrasting to what I am used to hearing in polyphonic music was the "oomph" behind the women's voices, particularly the lowest altos who were droning on a D5 (that's VERY low!). The warrior nature of their sound was exquisite and very chesty. This made me think of how outside classical Western music, we're not told to use our head voice. Someone introduced the term "natural voice pedagogue" to me yesterday. All my life I have been a chameleon, including as a musician. How the conductor wants me to sound, wants us to blend, etc. etc. It's come to a point where I don't know which sound I'm supposed to be producing when it is my choice (not all music is empowering-the opposite has been true!)
Anyway, I digress, to see these women sing with their beautiful natural voices and still receive a standing ovation at the end because they shared their unique and beautiful gift, THAT was empowering. And then they still had some BEAUTIFUL acapella more choral sounding pieces, but that was just one color on their palette. Not to mention the stories that accompanied these songs. The one on my Facebook is about a baby dying and wow the dancing, the symbolism, the sound, everything so gorgeous.
So often, choral educators use just the primary colors, or a monotone color. What I saw last night was a full palette with clear primary colors as roots, but by the end of the 45 min presentation they had all used their whole palette. What if we broke out of that mold? Painters in Buenos Aires have developed a very trendy style using just neon colors! What if we challenged ourselves to do the equivalent as vocalists, as musicians, as artists? Sure, classical singing has its time and place, but it doesn't have to dominate. I am going to strive to not make it a monotonous color on my palette. I am embracing my inner Georgian and using my natural voice as my primary color--how it should be mixed, I'm still working on that, thanks Dr. Michaels!
This fearless, strong woman presence was also noted in the large Kartlis Deda Mother statue, think the giant Jesus Christ in Rio, but of a woman with a sword in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. She symbolizes the Georgian national character: in her left hand she holds a bowl of wine to greet those who come as friends, and in her right hand is a sword for those who come as enemies. Strong, but still knows how to celebrate, love, and have a good time. This is what we need more of in the world. Keep our armor shells, because without them we'll wittle away with all the political divisiveness going on and we certainly need to continue to fight the good fight, but not without keeping a glass of wine in the other, to cherish life every day and remember to befriend.
This statue especially had meaning after I had accompanied two Georgians to dinner prior and we went through the Georgian toast process. Essentially, you can make a toast to anything: trees, napkins, women, the potential President, the list goes on. Someone starts the toast and everyone goes around and says something about the topic at hand-and then you drink half the glass of wine and continue to repour until the jug is gone. Ours was intermingled with intense debate, but the nature of it was there. It happened over several hours so I had no problem climbing the hill to the monastery and aforementioned statue after, don't worry :) To drink with this amount of intention and truly cherish everything-from trees to napkins is a lovely practice I hope to carry forth. So here's to serif font that helps you read this and to the beautiful Georgian people who have already taught me so much in 72 hours! Not to mention the actual songs I'm bringing back with me. What are you toasting today?
Here's to Day 2. And no more sleepless nights.