Top 10 famous Georgians abroad
It’s been proven that Georgians are very talented people. They are talented in different disciplines; in art, poetry, music and even in fashion design! In spite of the fact that there are only 5 million people in Georgia, which is a small dot on the world map, it has produced quite a few famous people in different fields and some of them have achieved worldwide success. I’m sure that you are interested to learn about their achievements. Here is a short list of famous people who have successful careers and are famous the world over!
Georgian soprano Tamar Iveri is the daughter of the famous baritone Avtandil Javakishvili. She studied singing at the State Conservatoire in Tbilisi and first came to the public’s attention in 1998. In 1999 she won first prize at the Mozart Competition in Salzburg.
Over the years, Tamar has worked with conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Sir Colin Davis, Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, James Levine, and Mariss Jansons among others. She has performed at the world’s most prominent opera houses: Simon Boccanegra (Deutsche Opera in Berlin), La Bohème (Staatsoper in Vienna), Simone Boccanegra and Don Giovanni (Covent Garden). She was awarded the M. Abashidze National Prize in Georgia and received the Eberhard Waechter Medaille for her portrayal of Tatyana at the Vienna State Opera. She was nominated for ‘Best Female Performer’ in the prestigious Helpmann Awards for her performance as Amelia in the Australian Opera.
In October 2014 Tamar Iveri established the charitable foundation “Safe Society” to provide medical, psychological, legal assistance, and rehabilitation for victims of all forms of violence including domestic violence, sexual violence, race-motivated violence and religious violence. Safe Society also promotes civic education in Georgia with regard to human rights. Her fame is spread across many different countries and we Georgians are really proud of her.
Nino Surguladze is one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of the modern generation admired for her warm and velvety voice, excellent acting abilities and her stunning beauty. Born into a family of scientists in Tbilisi, Nino Surguladze obtained her primary and secondary education at the First Experimental School of Tbilisi, and also graduated from the Children’s Music School. She performed in several musicals while at school, debuting at the young age of 7 at the Philharmonic Concert Hall in Tbilisi, and toured abroad in several countries, including the US. In 1991 she shared the first prize with the Natvris Khe group at the Georgian Music and Choreography Contest. During this period, she also starred in several movies. After she graduated from college with a degree in journalism, she enrolled at V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire, where she studied singing under Professor Guliko Kariauli. She graduated with distinction and won prizes in a number of prestigious international voice competitions, including the Francisco Viñas International Singing Contest in Barcelona. She completed her musical training in Milan in 2003, while simultaneously performing in roles at the Teatro alla Scala. Ms. Surguladze made her debut at the Gran Teatre Del Liceu in Barcelona at the age of 22.
In many countries she is already recognized as one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of the modern generation. In spring 2016, for the role of Fenena in Verdi’s Nabucco that she performed at the Arena di Verona, Surguladze was awarded the winning prize for best mezzo-soprano.
Ms Surguladze founded the “Desire Tree” fund in 2014. Its aims are to provide assistance to Georgian children (up to 20 years old) in need of acute medical treatment abroad, and to raise awareness of the children’s sufferings. In this capacity the Fund performs significant daily work. In 2015 the Minister of Finance of Georgia awarded the fund with official charity fund status. Since 2014, the Fund has organized five grand charity concerts in collaboration with various world-class musicians, incomes from which were used to finance life-saving treatments of many children. So, Nino isn’t only a leading mezzo-soprano of the modern generation, but she also helps modern generations to make their lives better.
Khatia was born in Batumi, by the Black Sea in 1987. The example set by her parents did not go unheeded. During the chaotic period her country went through, Khatia’s parents had to display great resourcefulness to keep poverty at bay. Her mother, who introduced her to music, sewed together magnificent dresses for both her daughters from bits of cloth that she scavenged. The piano, however, has never posed a problem for Khatia. She has been blessed with an impressive ability, giving her first concert at the age of six. Her sister, Gvantsa, is an excellent pianist too. Together they complement each other perfectly, as one has her feet on the ground and the other is supersonic!Khatia’s great career has come quite naturally, without much of a struggle. The sun has no need to move mountains to exist for it rises and shines for all. And these are the words that spring to mind when one sees her bursting onto the stage.Franz Liszt is one of her heroes. He was the one with whom she wanted to venture first into the world of music. Liszt is constantly pushing back the boundaries of what is possible. It’s in such a way that she includes all kinds of styles, from Baroque to modern, on her album “Motherland”, to demonstrate that true music has no need for barriers and that all styles can fade into one all-linking, all-revealing style that can be summed up in Mozart’s words: “Love, love, love, therein lies the soul of genius.”
Buniatishvili was invited to collaborate with Coldplay, the British band to create their album “A Head Full of Dreams’’. Buniatishvili can be heard on the song ‘Kaleidoscope’. The voice of former United States President Barack Obama also features in the song. Obama is heard singing Amazing Grace while at church.
Ketevan Melua (Katie Melua)
Ketevan Melua was born in Kutaisi in 1984. She spent her early years with her grandparents in Tbilisi. She moved to Northern Ireland at the age of eight and then to England at fourteen. Melua made her musical debut in 2003. In 2006, she was the United Kingdom’s best-selling female artist and Europe’s highest selling European female artist. In November 2003, at the age of nineteen, Melua released her first album, Call off the Search, which reached the top of the UK album charts and sold 1.8 million copies in its first five months of release. According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2008, Melua had a fortune of 18 million, making her the seventh richest British musician under thirty. In January 2012 she married World Superbike racer James Toseland. The couple married at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London.
For her latest album, In Winter, singer-songwriter Katie Melua enlisted the help of the extraordinary Gori Women’s Choir for an album unlike anything she’d ever done before.
The Gori Women’s Choir featured on the singer’s new album and they were also part of the official video. The choir joined Melua in concert to promote the singer’s new album in Georgia before travelling to continue the tour in the UK. You really should listen to their astonishing performance and fascinating sounds created when these two legends sing together.
Katie is also a patron of Fair Trees, the organization that is trying to stop exploitation of cone pickers in Ambrolauri. Georgia, by the European Christmas tree industry. The local people in this region of Georgia are paid a pittance to risk their lives climbing 30 m high fir trees to collect the cones from which the seeds are extracted and sent to Christmas tree nurseries in Europe. Until Fair Trees came along, these cone pickers were given no safety equipment or training, no health insurance and very little pay. Every year people are injured and even killed doing this work. Fair Trees grow and sell the only fair trade Christmas trees in the world.
Katie is a patron of the Manx Cancer Help charity, which offers support to cancer sufferers and is based on the Isle of Man.
Anita Rachvelishvili was born in Tbilisi and initially studied piano at the M. Machavariani School and later voice at the V. Sarajishvili Conservatoire. Upon graduating in 2006 she sang as a member of the Tbilisi Opera House before joining the Academy of Lyric Opera at the Accademia Teatro Alla Scala from 2007 to 2009. At the end of her tenure she made her international debut as Carmen for La Scala, Milan. She has since sung the role for companies including the Metropolitan Opera, New York, Berlin State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Deutsche Opera Berlin, Canadian Opera Company, San Francisco Opera, Arena di Verona and Teatro Regio, Turin.
Rachvelishvili’s concert appearances have included Verdi’s Requiem with Christian Thielemann for the Salzburg Festival.
Every year, the Teatro alla Scala holds a big international competition and the winners are invited to attend its academy for young artists. In 2007, she was one of almost 400 vocal contestants from the entire world. Attending the La Scala Academy was a direct way for her to get on the stage of the Teatro alla Scala. Having worked at the academy for two years, from 2007 to 2009, she learned a great deal about singing, opera, and the way to survive the young artist program. Many great singers have taught there including Mirella Freni, Luciana Serra and the late Leyla Gencer. She really adored working with Ms. Gencer, with Renato Bruson and with the great pianist and coach, Vicenzo Scalera.
Anita loves her country and she says that “there is no other nation or people in the world like Georgians, they are very honest and hospitable and nothing compares to my home’’.
Georgian-American pianist and composer Giorgi Latso (Latsabidze) has a sparkling international career. He is internationally recognized for his electrifying performances and insightful interpretations, performing with international orchestras and conductors. His hands first met the keys of a piano when he was three years old, an experience he vividly remembers to this day, as he knew at that moment that this instrument would be the most important thing in his life. Born into a non-musical family, music appealed to him so much that he began composing piano at around the age of five. He began his piano lessons at the age of seven. At age 18, Latso began studying at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire. He continued his studies in Germany at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover. He moved to the United States in 2005 to pursue his doctoral degree in piano performance at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Latso has gained international acclaim and his solo performances have taken him to many of the world’s leading music centers, including New York, Washington DC, Boston, Los Angeles, London, Warsaw, Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Zurich, Vienna, Salzburg, Basel, Moscow, Tbilisi, Munich, Bratislava, Madrid, Tokyo, Taipei, Bangkok and Seoul where he has played in such prestigious concert halls and spaces such as Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall in Berlin, Wigmore Hall in London, Tonhalle Zürich, Teatro Verdi in Florence, Bunkamura Orchard Hall in Tokyo, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Gewandhaus Leipzing, Festspielhaus in Salzburg, National Concert Hall in Taipei. He has recorded a series of various landmark CD albums including; Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Liszt’s 12 Transcendental Études, and Debussy’s 24 Préludes. Also a composer, Latso wrote the musical score for the film Waltz-Fantasy, which was the winner of the best music award at the Bologna Film Festival in Italy. He is a member of Onward Entertainment, an independent film company in Los Angeles. He currently holds a professorship at the Vienna Prayner Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna, Austria. Latso also enjoys an international reputation as a teacher, presenting master classes throughout the world.
Elisso Bolkvadze was born in Tbilisi. She began her musical studies at the early age of four and was accepted at Prodigy School. She performed her first concert with an orchestra at the age of seven, attended master classes with Tatiana Nikolaeva in Moscow and Professor/Composer Michel Sogny in France, who provided her with an important artistic influence. French national TV-channel made a feature-length documentary film about her.
She has won great critical acclaim, throughout the years, for her unique sensibility, power and sincerity. Elisso is regularly invited to play with international orchestras such as: Gewandhaus Orchestra, the French National Orchestra, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Festival Orchestra, the Lithuanian National Orchestra, National Philharmonic of Ukraine, Innsbruck Symphony Orchestra, The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.
She regularly appears on the Mezzo TV channel to give live performances.
A superstar in her country of birth, Elisso Bolkvadze was awarded with “The Medal of Georgian Government”, one of the most prestigious national honors.
Recently, she founded the charitable foundation “LYRA” for promoting talented young Georgian pianists. Also, Elisso is the artistic director of the Batumi International Music Festival in Georgia.
Beka Gochiashvili was born in Tbilisi on Mar 11, 1996. Beka was the youngest winner of the Montreux Jazz Competition in 2009. He was just two and half years old, barely reaching his upright piano keyboard, when he suddenly surprised his father by playing some of Scott Joplin’s Ragtime tunes he heard on radio. Then, at age 4, he watched Standards II by Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack De Johnette – the video recording that triggered his devotion and passion for this sophisticated trio and their performance style.
Thanks to the efforts of Ms. Rice, Mr. Harrison and John Teft, the former US Ambassador to Georgia, Beka and Mr. Ramishvili travelled to New York in 2008 to participate in auditions at the Juilliard School and at the Manhattan School of Music. Not surprisingly, Beka was accepted into both schools. Currently, he is a student at The Juilliard School in Manhattan But that doesn’t stop him from playing and recording with some of the biggest names in American jazz, including Chick Corea and the bassist Stanley Clarke. He studies with Frank Kimbrough and takes private classes with Fred Hersch and Danilo Pérez.
In 2008, Condoleezza Rice said “Beka is one of the best jazz pianists I’ve heard anywhere’’. “Beka Gochiashvili is a brilliant young piano prodigy. You’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the next few years.”– Chick Corea, 2010. He is not a simple musician or jazzman, he is a genius and people like him are born once in a century.
Demna and Guram Gvasalia
Demna and Guram Gvasalia are famous designers. They grew up in a small town in Georgia during the country’s civil war. Their family fled their hometown in the 1990s, settling in Düsseldorf in Germany. They studied at Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Demna has led design teams at Maison Martin Margiela and Louis Vuitton.
Guram Gvasalia is a Georgian-born businessman and co-founder of one of the most in-demand fashion brands in the world, Vetements. Together with his brother, famed fashion designer Demna Gvasalia, Guram started Vetements in 2014 in Paris. Growing up in tumultuous Georgia, Gvasalia racked up a series of degrees in business and law while his brother went to fashion school and created dresses out of cardboard. When he was just 15, Gvasalia was backstage at his brother’s graduation fashion show organizing and dressing models. Today Gvasalia heads the business side of Vetements while his brother creates.
A businessman and graduate of the London College of Fashion, Gvasalia is in charge of how – and where – Vetements’ collections hit the market and the internal operations of the company. Worn by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber, Vetements has become one of the most sought-after fashion brands in the world, known for their hoodies that retail for $1200. Many of the world’s famous celebrities wear Vetements.
Levan Uchaneishvili was born on December 15, 1958 in Tbilisi. In 1979 he graduated from the Shota Rustaveli Theatre Institute. He began his acting career as a Georgian actor in 1976. In the 1980s he appeared in Soviet movies. In 1992 he took part in the television movie Stalin, produced by the United States and Hungary, playing the role of Kaganovich. In the 1990s he moved to the USA. He then took part in several notable Hollywood films such as playing a Russian pilot in the science-fiction film Independence Day (1996) directed by Roland Emmerich, Blades (1996), Air Force One (1997) directed by Wolfgang Petersen, Virus (1999), 25th Hour (2002) and others. Also, in 1996, he appeared in an episode of the television series The X-Files. In 1998, he appeared in the film Blade and in 1999 in an episode of Seven Days. He also played the character of Uncle Nikolai, a Russian mafia boss in the film the 25th hour. He is one of the most successful Georgian actors in Hollywood. For the Hollywood experience, Levan Uchaneishvili gave a master class at Theatrical University in Tbilisi on May 15, 2013. Actor Levan Uchaneishvili visited the Theatrical University to give a master class for future actors. He spoke to them about his experiences. He started his career in his home country and took it all over the world.
This is just a small list of people who were able to demonstrate their talents in different countries around the world. We Georgians are really proud of their achievements and it is very important for us that they haven’t lost the love for their country. They constantly remember where they are from and do everything they can to help their people.