John A. Graham

...joined the Yale Institute of Sacred Music as a post-doctoral teaching fellow in 2015-2016. He was lecturing, writing, and teaching a graduate course titled, "Early Polyphonies East and West."

His PhD at Princeton University, "The Transmission and Transcription of Georgian Liturgical Music" (2015), encompassed a comprehensive investigation of the written and audio sources for the liturgical chant tradition of the Georgian Orthodox Church, both medieval and modern.

As an active facilitator of cultural exchange, Graham organizes performance tours in the United States for ensembles such as the critically acclaimed Anchiskhati Church Choir (2016, 2005), the Sakhioba Ensemble (2012), and the Zedashe Folk Ensemble (2007). He also leads tours in Georgia for academics and Orthodox pilgrims on self-designed Monastery Tours. See upcoming tour listings here.

Graham lectures regularly on topics relating to the history and revival of Georgian sacred music, and gives practical workshops on Georgian folk and sacred music. At Princeton, he directed two Georgian folk choirs, and currently directs the Yale Georgian choir. He holds a master's degree from Princeton University (2009), and a bachelor's degree in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University (2003).

Soso Kopaleishvili

... is a dynamic performer and educator of Georgian traditional folk and sacred music. As a soloist in the Sakhioba Ensemble, Soso has performed in the UK, Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, and the US, as well as in concerts throughout Georgia. Soso studied in the Tbilisi Seminary and the Patriarchate College of Chant Studies, and worked as a radio host in Folk Radio Tbilisi. He is accomplished on many instruments including the doli (drum), chiboni (bagpipe), chonguri (lute), and guitar. His energy and enthusiasm, combined with a skill for ordering the most delicious foods, make him an invaluable asset to our guide team.

Shergil Pirtskhelani

... was born and raised in the highland region of Svaneti, where he grew up speaking both the Svan and Georgian languages and learning local arts such as ornate wood-carving and traditional folk songs. Now a soloist in the Zedashe Ensemble and resident in Sighnaghi, East Georgia, Shergil (pronounced Share-geel) makes a living making fine wood carvings and working as a sommelier in the burgeoning wine-tourism industry. As a performer and teacher of traditional music, he has toured in the USA, Holland, Latvia, and the UK on several occasions, and brings his passion for music and fine sense of humor and poise to the guide team.