Virtual WiP: “Imperial Sounds. The Beginnings of a National Choir Culture in Late Nineteenth-Century Tbilisi/Tiflis”

CRRC, ARISC and American Councils are proud to present the 14th session of the 2020 Spring Series of the Tbilisi Works-in-Progress series, now celebrating its 10th year!

Given the continuing COVID19 situation, we will once again hold the Works-in-Progress session virtually.

“Imperial Sounds. The Beginnings of a National Choir Culture in Late Nineteenth-Century Tbilisi/Tiflis”

By Jonas Löffler, University of Cologne

Date: July 8, 2020, at 18:30|
Virtual Venue: URL will be posted on WiP Facebook page on the day of the presentation. Alternatively, please RSVP to georgia[at]

Within a little bit more than a year, between 1885 and 1886, the first Armenian and Georgian ‘folklore’ choirs were founded in Tiflis/Tbilisi, causing a considerable echo in local newspapers. The Armenian choir of Kristapor Kara-Murza, a musician from Crimea residing in Tiflis, and the Georgian choir founded by Vladimer (Lado) Aghniashvili, a local teacher deeply invested in the Georgian national cause, remained in the centre of public attention during the whole time of their existence. Viewing the choirs as objects of political and social projections, this talk follows the public discussions around the choirs in Georgian-, Armenian-, and Russian-language newspapers and journals during the roughly fifteen years of their existence. Choirs and choir music can be understood as central elements of an ongoing nationalisation of culture towards the end of the nineteenth century. However, the public discussions around them contain in a nutshell many elements of much wider debates relating to modernisation, progress, education, enlightenment, tradition, displaying in a lucid manner the workings of late Tsarist society on the multi-ethnic fringes of the empire.

Jonas Löffler is a doctoral student in musicology at the University of Cologne in Germany. He holds a scholarship of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) and is a fellow of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne. Jonas studied classical guitar and musicology at the Conservatoire and the University of Basel, Switzerland, and at Oxford University. At Oxford, he was a recipient of the Clarendon Scholarship as well as a grant from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). Besides his musicological undertakings, he is a performer on the classical guitar and works as a translator from Georgian, having published, amongst other things, a collection of short stories for learners of the language and a translation of the Georgian Futurist/Dada journal H2SO4.

Although this presentation will take place in virtual format, in observation of the spirit of the Chatham House Rule to which the series generally adheres, the talk will not be recorded and we courteously request that the other participants refrain from recording and/or distributing it as well.

WiP is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the new office of CRRC at Liziko Kavtaradze St. 1. It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public.