Tsinandali Festival Brings Cultural Flavor to Georgia-Israel Relations

This festival will give young musicians from around the region a unique opportunity to showcase their talents on one of the biggest stages

September 15, 2019 16:14
Music Director of the Tsinandali Festival, Gianandrea Noseda, conducts the opening orchestral perfor

Music Director of the Tsinandali Festival, Gianandrea Noseda, conducts the opening orchestral performance of Georgia’s first international classical music festival.. (photo credit: PROJECT ASSOCIATES)

According to Tsinandali Festival co-founder Yerkin Tatishev, “This festival will give young musicians from around the region a unique opportunity to showcase their talents on one of the biggest stages. Music has the extraordinary power to bring people together and unite them.” 

An international classical music festival in Georgia will give talented Israeli musicians a chance to shine on a global stage. The Tsinandali Festival will be held September 8th-22 at the beautifully restored historic estate of Alexander Chavchavadze located in the heart of the Georgian winemaking region of Kakheti, outside Tbilisi. The festival promises to be an international celebration of classical music with artists from across the globe performing and dedicated patrons of the arts sponsoring the event.

The Tsinandali Classic Musical Festival will have a special Israeli flavor, boasting a deep, unique connection to the Israeli classical music scene through its founders and performers. This comes as no surprise as the countries of Georgia and Israel maintain strong diplomatic, commercial and cultural ties. There are currently 120,000 Georgian Jews who live in Israel and 13,000 Jews living in Georgia. Since 2010, the two countries have promoted each other through bilateral agreements in tourism and air traffic. 

The Founders of the Tsinandali Festival

The Tsinandali Festival is a non-profit collaboration between the Georgian government and representatives in the private sector. The founders of the festival include George Ramishvili, Chairman of the Silk Road Group, and Yerkin Tatishev, a Kazakh-born businessman and entrepreneur who is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the diverse Singapore-based holding company Kusto Group.

Kusto Group and its leadership have strong ties to Israel and the festival’s host country of Georgia. In 2014, Tatishev’s Kusto Group purchased the Israeli paint giant Tambour with intentions of taking the much-loved Israeli manufacturer global with an expansion of the company. Daniel Kunin, a Managing Director of Kusto Group who oversaw the acquisition of Tambour, was once a senior advisor to the Government of Georgia during a time when the country overhauled its economy and social structures.

The festival will feature a strong Israeli influence in part due to another of its founding members, Israeli Abraham (Avi) Shoshani. Shoshani currently serves as Secretary General of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Shoshani along with Martin Engstroem, another founder of the Tsinandali Festival, co-founded the world-renowned Verbier Festival held annually in Switzerland. The Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra will perform several concerts throughout the Tsinandali Festival as well as mentor and instruct young musicians during the festival’s training program.

 Co-founders of the Tsinandali Festival Avi Shoshani and George Ramishvili and festival music director Gianandrea Noseda speak during a press conference before the opening of the 15-day classical music festival.

Israeli Musicians Scheduled to Perform

Numerous artists and musicians who have performed with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Israel Opera will perform throughout the festival’s many concerts. Gianandrea Noseda, one of the world’s most sought-after conductors, will serve as the music director for the Tsinandali Festival. In addition to his position as the Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC, Noseda is the Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Conductor of the Orquesta de Cadaqués, and Artistic Director of the Stresa Festival in Stresa, Italy.

The schedule for the festival features several Israeli musicians who will be given the opportunity to showcase their talents in solo concerts. One of these Israeli musicians is Avi Avital. Born in the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheva, Avital is the first mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy. The musician has performed all over the world and his talents have led to a revival for his instrument, with more than 100 contemporary compositions having been written for him.

Also performing at the Tsinandali Festival will be the talented young Israeli pianist, Yoav Levanon. At the age of 14 years old, Levanon will be the youngest concert pianist to take part in the Tsinandali Festival. With having achieved so many impressive feats at such a young age, including a performance at Carnegie Hall at the age of 7, it is no surprise that Levanon was named one of the 10 extraordinary Israelis under the age of 16.

Musicians will Perform under Highly-Acclaimed Israeli Conductors

Tel Aviv native Lahav Shani will be a featured artist at the Tsinandali Festival. Shani, an acclaimed pianist and conductor, has been selected to succeed Zubin Mehta as the Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2020-2021 season and will be the orchestra’s Music Director Designate for the 2019-2020 season.

Omer Meir Wellber, one of the leading operatic and orchestral conductors in Israel and beyond, will be another Israeli whose talents will be on display during the Tsinandali Festival. Wellber has been a regular guest conductor for over ten years at the Israeli Opera. In addition to his professional work in music, he has made it a personal mission to promote music integration projects across Israel and to use music as a powerful tool for social change. He has reached thousands of Israeli children through his commitment to music education and youth outreach programs.

Also performing at the Tsinandali Festival will be Grammy award-winning Israeli Pinchas Zukerman whose has a decorated career as a violin and viola soloist, conductor, and chamber musician has made him a highly sought-after musician and teacher. Zukerman is currently in his tenth season as Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and his fourth as Artist-in- Association with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in Australia.

Tsinandali Festival co-founders Yerkin Tatishev and Martin Engstroem applaud the opening performance of the Pan Caucasian Youth Orchestra.

Delivering a Powerful Message of Peace and Unity

The main festival venue will be a new modern-architecture and acoustics open amphitheater fitted with a retractable roof that was built as part of the long-term development plan of the Tsinandali Estate. The Estate boasts a restored and fully operational vineyard, a preserved and rehabilitated European-style garden and a newly constructed luxury hotel. Considerable resources have gone in to restoring and reviving the Tsinandali Estate and these multi-year efforts will be showcased throughout the festival.

One of the highlights of the Tsinandali Festival is sure to be the Pan Caucasian Youth Orchestra (PCYO). Young musical talents from across the Caucasian region auditioned for an opportunity to perform alongside and learn from internationally acclaimed musicians at the Tsinandali Festival. Their participation in the event will deliver a powerful message of peace and unity throughout the entire region. “Young Kazakhs will play alongside Young Georgians, Ukrainians, Turks and others, in what I hope will prove to be the festival’s enduring legacy of empowering young talent,” said Tsinandali co-founder Yerkin Tatishev.

The highly anticipated Tsinandali Festival is set to take place annually and is likely to become one of the country’s highest-profile music events. With its picturesque setting and truly unique experience for musicians and spectators alike, the Tsinandali Festival is sure to be a cultural gem for the Caucasian region.



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