Village Harmony

Republic of Georgia Camp 2022 (July 10 – 26, 2022) ($1900 adult / $1600 youth)

Date: July 10 - 26, 2022
Venue: Sighnaghi, Republic of Georgia
Leaders: Ketevan Mindorashvili, Zedashe Ensemble, Patty Cuyler, Mollie Stone
Price: $1900 adult / $1600 youth

We aim to make this and our other international camps affordable for high school & college student participation by offering automatic youth discounts.

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.

The 17-day long 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.

Participants 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. 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.

Our program will begin with a welcome feast at Pheasants Tears restaurant. Extra-curricular activities while in residence in Sighnaghi will include a bread-baking (tonis p’uri) session, a local hike and picnic, a workshop with singers from Telavi and wine-tasting in the Alazani Valley.

On our tenth day we will embark on a multi-day tour that will include:
– an outdoor concert and supra feast with Svanetian singers living in Udabno;
– two nights in Tbilisi, to feast and sing with local Tbilisi singers and allow us some time to explore the city;
– a visit to the ancient cave dwellings at Uplitsikhe; and
– a two-night stay in Kazbegi, where we will share a stage with local singers, do some hiking and explore the villages and valleys. On the way up and back we will stop to see the Zhinvali Reservoir, Ananuri Fort, Jvari Pass and the town of Gudauri.

Tuition is based on double (with a few triple rooms) occupancy. A limited number of single rooms in Sighnaghi will be available for a $250 supplemental fee. (Double occupancy only for hotel rooms when we are on the road, unless a singer wishes to pay the difference in cost.)

NOTE: All participants in Village Harmony in-person camps must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend.

Take a moment to watch VH alumna Tikko Frielich’s short documentary from Village Harmony’s 2017 camp in Georgia.

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Ketevan Mindorashvili

mindorashviliketevanlgKetevan Mindorashvili was born in Sighnaghi in the eastern province of Kakheti in (the Republic of) Georgia. She was raised in a traditional singing family. Founder and director of the Zedashe Ensemble, 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.


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.

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. It was primarily Patty’s vision and labor that shaped Village Harmony’s response to the pandemic year.

Patty has co-led Village Harmony’s community world music choir Boston Harmony (which she founded) since 2005 as well as 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 served as a conductor at Chicago Children’s Choir from 2005-2020 and has been director of the University of Chicago’s two largest choirs 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.