Passing through Georgia on my bicycle ride from the UK to India, looking for music to record, it's a cold day. An arduous 113km mountain climb finally reveals the historic town of Sighnaghi that floats like an island in the permeating clouds filling the Alazani Valley. I go straight to one of the wineries in the region, Pheasant’s Tears, owned by Ketevan Mindorashvili and her husband. Mindorashvili forces a bottle of chacha (grape vodka) in my hands and plonks me by the fire to warm up.
Mindorashvili is the leader of Zedashe, the renowned Kakheti ensemble who have performed at major international festivals and are conducting important work in locating, archiving and reviving lost manuscripts and recordings.
In traditional Kakheti dress, Zedashe perform a wedding song from Racha, a nearby town. With two baritone drones at the rear, the tenors split in two, each repeating the verse: ‘my lover, she ran out on me and I don’t know what I did. Your eyes are so beautiful and your cheeks so rosy. Please don’t leave me.’ Mindorashvili has afforded the fictional couple a happy ending with a man and woman dancing to an accordion and nagara (drum).
Produced by Oliver Burton