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.

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.