Tuesday | 21 July. 2015
WiP: Funerary Horse Races and Chechen Bard Song, July 22 - Ben Wheeler

American Councils, CRRC Georgia and ARISC present the 24th talk in the Spring 2015 Works-in-Progress Series!

Ben Wheeler, Sayat Nova Project and University of Illinois
“Funerary Horse Races and Chechen Bard Song: Workings of Musical Memorial in Northeastern Georgia"

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 6:30pm
EPF/CRRC-Georgia, Kavsadze St. 3, Tbilisi

Musical compositions, rituals, and performances which memorialize the deceased draw upon two, near-universal phenomena (death and music). But the motivations for commemorating the dead are relative and extremely diverse. This talk will draw from recordings and interviews conducted in Northeastern Georgia over the past four years with individuals and communities who use the act of remembrance as a means of expressing opinions about the present and future. Footage from the funerary festival of Zezvaoba in the towns of Zemo and Kvemo Alvani and conversations with a Chechen refugee bard living in the neighboring Pankisi Gorge will be examined, as they illustrate sites and situations in which the workings of musical memorialization are enacted for different yet interconnected audiences- for a variety of causes and with differing results.

Ben Wheeler is the co-founder of the Sayat Nova Project, a non-profit group dedicated to raising awareness of the diverse musical dialects of the Caucasus. He is a graduate of the Tbilisi State Conservatoire’s program in Georgian folk music. As a master’s student in Musicology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, he is focusing on the intersection of music, identity, and memorial practices in the Caucasus.

W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the Eurasian Partnership Foundation at Kavsadze St. 3. 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.

The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Would you like to present at one of the W-i-P sessions? Send an e-mail to