Saturday, 26 February 2011

Back seat driving

A businessman based in the UK, brokering trade between his home country and a neighbour, found that the 2 countries were at war with each other so that his business was in a precarious position. He wasn't a politician and had no power to influence the 2 leaders directly. He worked behind the scenes to influence relations between the 2 countries by the back door.

Georgians live life through song. Italians may accompany each other to the beach or walk in groups, but if a Georgian begins to sing then others join in. The Georgian Orthodox Church has a powerful influence on the community and its current head, Patriarch Illia ii, has been active in promoting peace in the country. As a symbol of this move, he asked members of his choir to stop wearing the ceremonial dagger with their choka (traditional Eastern costume) telling them 'There has been enough war in Georgia.'

The Georgian businessman sponsored Basiani, part of the Patriarch's choir, to come to the UK in 2009 to give a concert at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in London and then sing with the resident choir for the evening mass. This was a momentous event and coincided with a tour of icons of English women martyred in Russia during the Revolution, who are now regarded as Russian saints.

This year the businessman was involved in another visit by the Patriarch along with Basiani and senior Georgian clergy, to inaugurate a Georgian Orthodox church in London. A concert at St John's Smith Square was also attended by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in the UK.

Here's Georgian pop star Keti Melua with Basiani singing for the senior clergy and others:

If you can't find a direct way in, go round the back.

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