The Zedashe Ensemble is based in the medieval fortress city of Sighnaghi, Eastern Georgia, home to the Kiziqian wine growers and warriors since ancient times. Directed by Ketevan Mindorashvili, the current incarnation of the ensemble was founded in the mid 1990s to sing repertoire largely lost during the Communist era. Their repertoire consists of ancient three-part harmony chants from Orthodox Christian liturgy, folk songs from the Kiziqian region as collected from village song-masters and old publications, and Kiziqian folk dances.
The Zedashe Ensemble also sings repertoire from other regions in Georgia, particularly the high northeastern mountain province of Svanetia, where time seems to stand still and traditional, non-tempered tunings of the old Georgians remain alive. Folk song genres include field songs, love songs, historical ballads, war dance songs, and ritual circle dances. These are accompanied by the chunir (Svan lute), panduri (Kiziq lute), chonguri (Gurian lute), doli (drum), chiboni (goat-skin bagpipes), and accordion. The group’s name is taken from the special earthenware jugs — zedashes — that were buried under the family home for the purpose of making wine. The wine made in zedashes was especially for the veneration of ancestors, and the tapping of the zedashe every year carried great ritual significance.
The Zedashe Ensemble performance is jointly sponsored by the Rosenfield Program, the Public Events Concert series, the Music Department, Russian, Central and Eastern European Studies and the Center for International Studies.