International Choir

The project „International Choir“ consists of two weekly workshops (held in June and October 2017) on international folk music and a subsequent concert tour through Abkhazia* in spring 2018. The project is organised by artasfoundation in collaboration with the singer and choir leader Franziska Welti, the musician Jean-Daniel Girod and local cultural institutions. 25 young women and men between 12 and 16 years old from different regions of Abkhazia are invited to sing folk songs from different countries of the world together with Franziska Welti and train themselves in the techniques of body percussion together with Jean-Daniel Girod. Participants come from Eastern Abkhazia (district of Gal/i and Ochamchira), from Sukhum/i (capital of Abkhazia) and Western Abkhazia (Gudauta).
Two singing teachers from Gal/i, a choir leader from Gudauta and three singing teachers from Sukhum/i participate in the workshop as co-teachers and work with the students together with Franziska Welti and Jean-Daniel Girod.


The goal of the project is to take up the rich local traditions and by the means of music (workshops and concerts) opening them to musical traditions of other corners of the world. In post-soviet countries, artistic education is often dominated by a very technique-oriented approach and characterised by strong formal subordination. The “International Choir” tries to offer a working method that is more open and focuses more on individual creativity. Furthermore, the project wishes to open new horizons and give new impulses to young people living in peripheral or disputed regions characterized by an atmosphere of uncertainty and waiting. With the assistance of experienced artists the young participants are provided with a new space for free experiments and stages for public display of their skills. Through the participation of international artists and through a specific selection of participants – partly across ethnical boundaries – new possibilities of encounter arise in a context characterized by low mobility. In connection with the workshops and the concert tour there will be further education and networking for the local artists (co-workshop leaders) participating in the project. The continuation of the artistic activities after the end of the project and the definition of organizational forms for these activities are to be prepared during the workshops.

Project coordinator:

Fenja Läser


*artasfoundation would like to underline that its use of names and titles particularly with regard to the conflict regions should not be construed as implying any form of recognition or non-recognition by the foundation or as having any other political connotation whatsoever.

Stiftung Smartpeace


Workshop leaders:

Franziska Welti

*1965 in Winterthur, singer and voice improvisator, lives and works in Winterthur and Berlin.


Jean-Daniel Girod

*1977, musician from Zurich, teaches body percussion at the International Choir.


Project partners in Abkhazia:

Gudauta Music School

Esma Gunba


House of Culture, Gal/i

Irakli Gvilava, Nika Shubitidze


Music School No. 1, Sukhum/i

Violetta Antonvna, Tamara Shanava


Ochamchira Youth House


Sukhum Youth House

Diana Shanba


Project coordinators in Abkhazia:

Angela Adzinba, Suchum/i

Tsira Schubladze, Gal/i