The Festival's



goes to


Dr. Wachtang "Botso" Korisheli





Korisheli hails from Georgia, a small Eastern European country, from which he was forced to flee after his father’s execution at the hands of Josef Stalin’s regime; his father had been a prominent actor who believed that an artist’s purpose was to serve society rather than a party’s political agenda.

From 1957 through the mid-’80s, Korisheli brought music into the lives of the county’s youth with an unparalleled sphere of influence, teaching at Morro Elementary School, Cuesta College, Sunnyside Elementary, Del Mar Elementary, Morro Bay High School, Los Osos Middle School, Mission Prep High School, and Mission Grammar School. In 1965 Korisheli founded the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony.


On the day of his father’s execution in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, 14-year-old Botso Korisheli was granted 20 minutes to say goodbye. I was able to see Dad in prison; he was in a small cell, and he was holding my mom’s hand,” recalls Korisheli, 78, of that day in 1936 when his outspoken father, celebrated Georgian actor Platon Korisheli, was put to death as an enemy of the people. That’s where he told me everything he wanted to tell me for the rest of my life,” continues Korisheli. “He said to me, ‘When you go to bed each night, ask yourself: ‘Have I done enough?’ ”

He has taught and inspired the likes of Kent Nagano, of Berlin’s Deutsche Symphonie and was the role of first principal conductor of Los Angeles Opera, Gerald Folsom,  principal French horn player with the LosAngeles Philharmonic trumpeter Bob Bennett, veteran of the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Disneyland Band. or, Northridge-based composer Michael Brebes, or his brother, San Luis Obispo glass sculptor Larry Brebes, a French horn player for Korisheli.












Production is well underway on a feature-length, non-profit documentary film on the life and legacy of Dr. Wachtang “Botso” Korisheli.  Botso’s story has become legendary  -- including a wise goodbye from his famous father just before the latter’s sudden execution in the Soviet Union, then Botso’s own imprisonment under the regimes of both Stalin and Hitler.  Botso’s new life eventually brought him to a small coastal village in California, where he taught

and inspired thousands of children on not just how to become great musicians and artists, but how to become remarkable human beings. 

Your browser may not support display of this image. The film will explore the fascinating life and philosophy of Dr. Korisheli, including the potent themes of human resilience and what inspires the creative process. Also featured will be in-depth interviews with Botso, his colleagues and members of his family, as well as current and former students -- including five-time Grammy Award winner Kent Nagano. A team of Central Coast and Georgian filmmakers spent two weeks on location in the Republic of Georgia during July of 2007. There, they captured the unique and vibrant culture of Botso’s birthplace, and examined the brutal challenges he and his family faced in this former Soviet province.  Artistic recreations, archival photographs and vintage movie clips will be seamlessly blended into the final digital editing process.