Parker Jayne, founding member of Capitol Hill Chorale, Washington DC
I’d recommend the Monastery Tour for anyone, but particularly for musicians and others, like myself, who are captivated by Georgia’s magical vocal music for the church.
One of America’s foremost scholars on Georgian music, John Graham, taught us several Georgian chants which we sang at every church and monastery to the delight of the Georgians there, and connecting all of us in an intimate way to the ancient sites we visited.
Perhaps most memorably, at the invitation of the priests during a Sunday service full of worshipers, we chanted at the Gelati monastery cathedral, one of the most important sites of worship and scholarship in medieval Georgia. This was after hearing as part of the service one of the most famous Georgian settings of the Cherubic Hymn. It was a morning that will always remain vivid in my memory.
What made the Monastery Tour particularly special to all of us, musicians and non-musicians alike, was our leader John. Scholar, adventurer and outdoorsman, ethnomusicologist and singer, fluent Georgian speaker, expert and appreciator of Georgia’s history, culture and physical beauty, outstanding organizer and logistician, new father, and warm host, John melded our disparate group into an adventurous little band, eager for each day’s exciting new sights and sounds, leading our introduction and immersion into this new land.