Ironically enough, it took me several weeks and journeying to one of the most remote areas of Georgia to get the most reliable internet I've encountered so far. After a 10 hour busride from the capital, I'm in the mountainous are of upper Svaneti, just south of the Russian border.
As in most places in Georgia, traditional folk singing is often kept alive by particular singing families, and here in Lenjer, I'm staying with the Pilpanis. Islam Pilpani directs Ensemble Riho, an ensemble of dancers and singers that, despite Svaneti's extreme remoteness, has performed in Europe and in festivals throughout the country. Svan music, like the countryside itself, is stark, ancient, and forceful. If the internet connection allows, I'll try to share some recordings that I've been making during the day.
With the help of musician and scholar Carl Linich, we've created a list of songs to record for teach-yourself CD's that could be shared with Georgians and foreigners trying to learn this music. As expected, the list keeps on getting longer every day, and it's thrilling to learn of local songs that haven't yet been recorded, and which members of Ensemble Riho want to have preserved for themselves and future musicians. I'm hoping this post will include a permalink to some recordings I made on the other side of Georgia.
If not now, I look forward to posting the media once I get back to the states in August.