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Sistine Chapel Hosts Georgian Concert

In a historic event, Vatican’s famed Sistine Chapel hosted a concert of the patriarchal choir of Tbilisi’s Holy Trinity Cathedral performing Georgian Orthodox ecclesiastical music and acclaimed polyphonic folk songs.

During some two-hours-long performance on June 26, the choir, joined by other Georgian artists, performed some 20 songs ranging from Kyrie Eleison (Greek for Lord have mercy) and the medieval hymn of Shen Khar Venakhi (Georgian for Thou Art a Vineyard) to the revered choral folk song of Chakrulo and miniature of Gia Kancheli (1935-2019).

Towards the end of the concert, the Georgian patriarchal choir together with the world-renown Sistine Chapel Choir performed Ave Maria, composed by Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili and Culture Minister Tea Tsulukiani, as well as foreign diplomats accredited to Vatican, among others, attended the occasion.

“Tonight, we saw this emotional moment that will remain in our memories. My deepest gratitude to Pope Francis,” tweeted President Zurabishvili.

“Hearing the Georgian chants within the walls of the Sistine Chapel was an emotional book that will stay in our history books,” she said, adding that “we witnessed a great moment in the long ties between Georgia and the Holy See.”

Earlier, Jose Bettencourt, Apostolic Nuncio to Armenia and Georgia said “the Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir of Tbilisi’s visit to the Vatican is a momentous and historical manifestation, at a time when the world is in the grips of the ravages of war in Ukraine, so close to Georgia’s experience, and where the plight of many of Georgia’s displaced sons and daughters is still a very deep and painful wound.”

Meanwhile, the move dismayed some religious hardliners in Georgia, which traditionally show skepticism towards the deepening ties between the Orthodox Church and the Holy See. “Religious fascism and fanaticism must end in Georgia,” responded the Conductor of the Choir, Svimon Jangulashvili.

On June 29, the Georgian choir will sing Patriarch Ilia II’s Ave Maria in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Liturgical Solemnity of St. Peter and Paul, in the presence of Pope Francis and a visiting Delegation of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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