Village Harmony

Caucasus Georgia Camp – August 15 – 30, 2020 – $1700 / $1375 students

Date: August 15 - 30, 2020
Venue: Sighnaghi, Republic of Georgia
Leaders: Ketevan Mindorashvili, Zedashe Ensemble, Patty Cuyler, Mollie Stone

We deliberately try to make this and our other international camps more affordable for high school & college student participation by offering a youth discount.

This will be Village Harmony’s 18th singing workshop in the Republic of Georgia, a small mountainous country about the size of West Virginia between the Black and Caspian Seas.

Georgia has what is arguably one of the world’s most ancient—and exciting—polyphonic singing traditions. Georgian polyphony has a dark, sonorous vocal quality, untempered intervals and striking harmonic convergences unlike anything in European music.

In this camp we will learn songs from both western and eastern Georgia, but with specific focus on the highly melismatic and improvisational folk songs of K’akheti region.

ketevan-mindorashvili-direThe two+week long residential camp will be based in Sighnaghi, Kakheti, a historic walled hill-town with a breathtaking view of the Alazani Valley and the Caucasus Mountains about 1-1/2 hours’ drive east of Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital.

Housing and rehearsals will take place in Village Harmony’s “own” retreat center—a cluster of three renovated historic homes on a side street near the old center of town, amidst winding cobbled streets and hillsides flecked with persimmon, walnut, fig and pomegranate trees.

VanoParticipants will work on tuning, ornamentation and vocal projection under the instruction of Ensemble Zedashe director Ketevan Mindorashvili. Long-time Zedashe member Tamila Sulkhanishvili will teach the group a set of east Georgian Orthodox chants. And daily instruction in Georgian dance will be led by choreographer Vano Chincharauli. Instrumental instruction (panduri, chonguri, drum) will also be offered.

Village Harmony co-director Patty Cuyler and popular camp leader Mollie Stone will coach the group in a set of South African, American and Corsican songs to add variety to our concert program.

During the rehearsal period there will be ample time to explore our host town.

horses-mountainsWe will also take a number of group outings throughout the region, visiting the ancient cave-dwellings of Davit Gareji and other historic and cultural sites—and likely to include a multi-day foray into the highlands to meet with local singers and to see Georgia’s amazing mountain regions

Depending on interest, we will also be organizing a week-long post-camp tour to the mountains of Svaneti and the Black Sea coast of western Georgia.

Take a moment to watch VH alumna Tikko Frielich’s documentary short about our 2017 camp in Georgia.

Apply Now!


Ketevan Mindorashvili

mindorashviliketevanlgFounder and director of the Zedashe Ensemble, Ketevan Mindorashvili was born in Sighnaghi and raised in a traditional singing family. Keto showed a gift for singing since childhood and continued to study music technique extensively in university. She devoted herself to preserving traditions on the brink of disappearance, and has become known as a singer and a teacher of Georgian folk music, particularly the fluid ornamentation of eastern folk songs. She has a deep knowledge of ancient church chant, and is a master of the panduri, the three-stringed lute from the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti. Keto has searched valleys and mountains for ancient polyphony, collecting folk songs and chants, as well as writing her own music within the tradition. Today she hosts students from all over the world in her native Sighnaghi and travels internationally leading tours of Zedashe and teaching workshops. She has appeared on all Zedashe recordings to date, and has participated in numerous tours to the United States, United Kingdom, and throughout Europe. Keto has been teaching Village Harmony groups in Georgia (and in Corsica in 2014) since 2003.

john_wurdemanKeto is married to an American-born painter, John Wurdeman, who has become the primary organizer for Village Harmony’s Georgia programs. John first came to Georgia in 1995 in search of singers that practiced the ancient art of Georgian polyphony.  In 1996 John purchased a house in Sighnaghi, Georgia, a town famous for the arts with beautiful views and in the center of the wine region.  In 1998 John moved to Sighnaghi to live full time. As a world-renowned vintner and restaurant owner as well as a painter, John divides his time between his main passions – wine, food and art – and finds the three go quite well together. He lives in Sighnaghi with Ketevan and their two children, Lazare and Gvantsa.


Zedashe Ensemble

zedashe-dancingZedashe Ensemble, directed by Ketevan Mindorashvili, was founded in the mid-1990s to sing repertoire that had been largely lost during the Communist era. The group is known for their performance of ancient three-part chants from the Orthodox Christian liturgy, folk songs from the Kiziqian region as collected from village song-masters and old publications, and folk dances from the region.

The group’s name is taken from the special earthenware jug, or zedashe, that was buried under the family home for the purpose of making wine. The wine made in the zedashe was intended for the veneration of ancestors and the tapping of the zedashe every year carried great ritual significance.

For more information, visit their website at

Patty Cuyler

Patty Cuyler photoPATTY CUYLER, born in California, educated at Princeton University, long-time resident of Vermont and currently living in Chicago, IL, is an energetic, dynamic workshop leader and choral director and is internationally-renowned for her expertise in teaching Corsican, Georgian and South African music. She has been co-director of Village Harmony since 1995 and over the years spear-headed the expansion of the organization’s reach into the four corners of the globe.

Patty co-leads the community world music choir Boston Harmony (which she founded in 2005) as well as the Brooklyn World Music Chorus (since 2012)—both of which she commutes by air to conduct—and the Chicago World Music Chorus (2013) closer to home.










Mollie Stone

Mollie Stone

MOLLIE STONE is a Chicago native internationally renowned for her workshops on black South African choral music. Mollie has served as a conductor at Chicago Children’s Choir since 2005 and at the University of Chicago since 2011. Mollie earned her master’s degree in classical choral conducting from Westminster Choir College and her conducting doctorate from Northwestern University. In 2001, she received a grant from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to create a DVD, Vela, Vela, to help educators learn and teach black South African choral music in the oral tradition. In 2006, Mollie received another grant to study how South Africans are using choral music in the struggle against HIV, which became the topic of her highly-acclaimed doctoral thesis. Mollie has been teaching with Village Harmony since 2009.


Sighnaghi, Republic of Georgia

Sighnaghi viewA medieval fort-town and 19th-century administrative center, Sighnaghi is a beautiful and deceptively quiet hill-town perched at the edge of the lower Caucasus mountains in eastern Georgia.  Sighnaghi is home to ancient Bodbe Monastery, and has long been a hot-bed of cultural activity, renowned as a refuge for artists and artisans of all sorts.

Sighnaghi is a compact little town and you can get everywhere you want within the town by foot. In the summertime the town bustles with tourists, but our neighborhood on the hillside facing Tsnori and the Alazani Valley remains a quiet oasis. Stroll around the city walls, follow trails in the forests on the outskirts, take a footpath shortcut to Bodbe Monastery.

hallway-looking-in-front-doorWe will use the three renovated buildings comprising Village Harmony’s ‘retreat center’ in Sighnaghi for lessons, housing and most of our meals while in residence. When we do eat out, however, we will do so in some of the best restaurants in the country!

While much of Sighnaghi has been renovated during the last decade, with newly-paved roads, real sidewalks and street lamps, our lane is one of the town’s last historic hold-outs. The last bit of road to the houses is unpaved and there are no street lights, so be sure to have a flashlight at hand for the nighttime.