The elixir of life has been found in a Russian village -- at least that's what the Women's Choir of Muzhiteno demonstrated Friday night at the "Voices of the Soviet Union" concert at Lisner Auditorium. These grandmotherly women, who shared the program with a men's choir, energetically performed authentic folk songs and traditional village dances. Blending their pungent voices in densely harmonic melodies, they were almost constantly moving -- forming perfectly synchronized lines and circles, rhythmically swaying or percussively tapping the floor with their aspen bark shoes.
Explaining that the folk tradition of Soviet Georgia offers a song for every occasion, the spokesman for the Mtiebi Men's Choir introduced work songs, drinking songs and an incredible "workout" number aimed at rousing party goers on the morning after the party. One chanting singer, wielding a whipping stick, began the "workout" by hitting the legs of the others and forcing them to march, twirl and chant faster and faster until they reached a frenetic pace. Throughout their varied repertoire, the men created rich, polyphonic harmonies and hypnotic arrangements that could easily top the pop charts if given the chance.
Audience members, who received no program, also heard the remarkable sounds of Oleg Kuular, a "throat singer" who, while producing a low tone, also created higher overtones at the same time.