The third annual Tsinandali Festival gathered classical music fans for eleven days of festivities in Eastern Georgia.
To the great pleasure of festivalgoers and founders such as Yerkin Tatishev and despite COVID-19 restrictions, the annual Tsinandali Festival, a celebration of classical music, took place from September 8th to September 19th, 2021.
Tatishev is the founder of the private holding company Kusto Group and one of the initiators of the Tsinandali Festival, held annually in the country of Georgia.
"Throughout all the hardship of the past 18 months, the festival has still managed to bring together classical music lovers in Tsinandali's magnificent surroundings. It has been a source of light in a time of darkness," Yerkin Tatishev wrote in an article shared on LinkedIn.
"Of course, as one of the founders, I speak from a position of bias, but I believe in the festival's ability to bring together different cultures, peoples and ideas united by common respect and a shared love of music, breaking down barriers - in a way little else can," the Kusto Group founder added.
COVID-19 prevents some artists from attending
Since its inception in 2019, the Tsinandali Festival has assembled a program consisting of classical musicians mainly from the Caucasus and Central Asia regions every year. This September, like last year, travel restrictions prevented many artists from joining the festivities in Georgia.
Among the artists that did make it to the Tsinandali Festival were the Israeli pianist Lahav Shani, the Belgian violinist Marc Bouchkov, the Japanese pianist Mao Fujita, the Russian/Israeli pianist Elena Bashkirova, and the Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev.
Young Georgian talents such as the 10-year-old pianist Tsotne Zedginidze, the 20-year-old pianist Sandro Nebieridze, and 29-year-old mezzo Natalia Kutateladze also performed at the Tsinandali Festival.
"This element of the festival holds special importance for me because promoting and supporting the next generation is what our vision is all about. These festivals are more than a gathering of brilliant musicians, they are a platform to demonstrate their talents and, we hope, a springboard for future success," Yerkin Tatishev wrote.
As in previous years, the Pan Caucasian Youth Orchestra also performed on the Tsinandali Festival stage.
The orchestra, which consists of young musicians from the Caucasus and Central Asia regions, is the resident orchestra of the Tsinandali Festival and delivered the first-ever performance at the festival in 2019.
The festival was held in Eastern Georgia at the Tsinandali Estate, originally built by the father of Georgian Romanticism, Prince Alexander Chavchavadze.
When festivalgoers were not at concerts, they could enjoy the distinctive architecture of the estate, take a stroll down the numerous vineyards that surround the area, or tour the palace museum.
Despite a few remaining COVID-19 limitations, Yerkin Tatishev believes that music lovers got a glimpse of the return to normalcy at the Tsinandali Festival.
"Restrictions inevitably limited both this and last year's edition of the festival," says Tatishev. "Nevertheless, with a program ranging from Mozart and Brahms to Debussy and Chopin, and even a little Jazz by Thomas Quasthoff & Co, it left us with so much to be excited about."
"Set in the iconic outdoor amphitheater, music lovers like me were able to enjoy an unforgettable experience and a glimpse of the return to normality that we have all been looking forward to for so long now," Yerkin Tatishev added.
The Kusto Group founder also touched upon the many changes the pandemic has come with, such as new ways to communicate.
"In all the radical changes this has brought, it is important not to forget the timeless language of music and the bridges it can build. On the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the Tsinandali Festival is the perfect place to put this into practice - for this year and for many more years to come," he stated.
Music as an ambassador for peace
Apart from Tatishev, the founders of the Tsinandali Festival include George Ramishvili, David Borger, Martin Engstroem, Alex Topuria and Abraham Shoshani.
When the festival launched in 2019, the BBC Music Magazine listed it as a "must-visit" occasion.
"When George Ramishvili initially approached us to start a music festival in Tsinandali, it did not take long before his vision and enthusiasm convinced us that this was something that could be very special," the Swedish music enthusiast Martin Engstroem said about the formation of the Tsinandali Festival.
"Our vision for the Tsinandali Estate from day one was to establish a meaningful and sustainable cultural and educational center in Georgia. Our friends and partners joined the project with the same understanding. The importance of the Language of Music initiative cannot be underestimated, as music is the most important ambassador for peace, prosperity and for strengthening cultural and economic ties between Caucasian nations," chairman and founder, George Ramishvili, added.