The Ialoni Ensemble review: Loud, clear and beautiful

The Ialoni Ensemble. Photo: Courtesy of Wells Maltings

The Ialoni Ensemble. Photo: Courtesy of Wells Maltings - Credit: Courtesy of Wells Maltings

Tuesday evening in the Kiln Room at Wells Maltings: stone walls, a barn-like wood-beamed roof. Polished wooden floors and a room full of people waiting for the Ialoni Ensemble, the prize-winning Georgian women’s choir.

They have a formidable word-of-mouth reputation.

Four women, members of the 18-strong choir, demurely dressed in long gowns, demurely filed into the room (one with a tiny babe-in-arms; this baby was quickly settled into a cradle at the rear of the stage), The concert started.

Introduced, in halting English by the director (and mother of the child), Nino Naneishvili, a musicologist from Tbilisi, Georgia, the music, some liturgical, some fold song, some ‘city’ music, all very old and culled from archives had previously been exclusively performed by men-only choirs.

This was loud, clear and beautiful noise, expelled from strong, trained lungs, revealing complex harmonies, not the familiar sound of a western chorus. Substantial, intriguing with surprisingly deep voices in different registers, these singers and their music were remarkable.


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Occasionally, the women punctuated their music with stately dance movements, serenely gliding, arms waving, with fingers fluttering like birds: exotic and wonderful.

This was just a ‘taster’. I was assured that the ‘Ialoni’ will return to this region.

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