Over the centuries, family ensemble singing has played a significant role in keeping traditional Georgian polyphonic singing alive. And true to this preserving nature, the Makharashvili family continues this practice despite being relocated half way around the world, over 9000 km from the well springs of the tradition. While both Shalva Makharashvili and Andrea Kuzmich are professional musicians (with over 50 years of experience between the 2 of them – you can read their individual bios below) the Makharashvili family unit started performing in private settings for marked family and calendric events. As the children aged and developed more skills and repertoire, the family found themselves in more performance opportunities, whether they be in cameo appearances on stages in Toronto (see the video below from 2010), NY and Georgia, or in more recent features such as Harbourfront’s Body Percussion Festival (see video below), Toronto’s Annual Black Out Party 2018, or Toronto’s First Georgian Cultural festival, Sept 30 2018. At the end of 2019, Ori Shalva also recorded for the television show “Sounds of Canada” to represent traditional Georgian polyphony among the talent of Canada’s mosaic cultural communities. In 2020, they were featured in a number of online showcases and were hosting Georgian Singing Workshops online.
By the way, Shalva is a traditional Georgian name and is the name of two of the members of the ensemble. Ori means 2 – which is why we call the group Ori Shalva & co.
Another side note: an off-shoot of Ori-Shalva is Gabo’s Trio.
Have a look at some videos over the years: teaching online, on stage (at Small World Music and Harbourfront Centre), in Georgia (with Basiani Ensemble at a grape harvesting festival) and in Tobermory. Also have a read to learn more about Shalva or Andrea’s professional work.
SHALVA MAKHARASHVILI, a Georgian native, has been performing the music of his homeland for over 35 years. Starting with the panduri (a 3-stringed indigenous lute) at the age of 4, his musical education included training in voice, tradition and classical choral repertoire, classical guitar, and traditional dance. As a young man he toured Georgia and the former Soviet Union in a number of choirs as featured soloist and instrumentalist (panduri and guitar player). Besides panduri, Shalva plays changi (harp), chonguri (a 4-stringed lute) and chiboni (bagpipes). Since his immigration to Toronto he has received a number of awards and featured on CBC radio. He was a soloist in and used to lead the community choir Darbazi and sings with his professional trio ZARI as well as numerous ad hoc groups within the Georgian community. He also chants numerous times per week in services for the Georgian Orthodox Church. He maintains close ties with the traditional singing community in Georgia, where he is highly respected as a singer as well as for his work in disseminating Georgian
ANDREA KUZMICH is an award winning singer, a teacher, an ethnomusicologist and music facilitator. Her eclectic musical activities defy her conventional classical beginnings where by the age of 16 she was a cellist with the McMaster Symphony and had sung in four different Canadian Opera Company productions. Andrea has also: sung in a Congolese Gospel Choir; studied Balkan folk music, South Indian singing and drumming, and West African drumming; performed in Big Bands, small jazz combos, as well as contemporary new music ensembles; taken a leading role in the practice of ridnyj holos (Ukrainian traditional singing) in Canada through Kosa Kolektiv and Kalendar (formerly KalynDar); become one of Canada’s foremost practitioners and academics of Georgian polyphony; sings in the professional Georgian trio ZARI and was also a lead soloist in the community choir DARBAZI. Inspired by this diversity, she started MusiCamp in 2013, a Toronto studio that hosts workshops, kids camps and facilitates musical events. She can be heard on Veryan Weston’s “Make” (2017); Tanya Tagaq’s “Retribution” (2016); DoVira’s “DoVira” (2016); Kalendar’s “Sichen” (2016); ZARI’s “ZARI” (2008); Whitney’s Smith Big Steam Band’s “Swing’s Mistress” (1998); movie soundtrack “The Witch” (2015); documentary soundtrack “What is Love” (2016), among others.