Giya Alexandrovich Kancheli (Georgian: გია ყანჩელი; born 10 August 1935 in Tbilisi, Transcaucasian SFSR, Soviet Union) is a Georgian composer who resides in Belgium.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kancheli has lived in Western Europe: first in Berlin, and since 1995 in Antwerp, where he became composer-in-residence for the Royal Flemish Philharmonic.
In his symphonies, Kancheli's musical language typically consists of slow scraps of minor-mode melody against long, subdued, anguished string discords. Rodion Shchedrin referred to Kancheli as "an ascetic with the temperament of a maximalist; a restrained Vesuvius".
Kancheli has written seven symphonies, and what he terms a liturgy for viola and orchestra, called Mourned by the Wind. His Fourth Symphony received its American premiere, with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yuri Temirkanov, in January 1978, not long before the cultural freeze in the United States against Soviet culture. Glasnost allowed Kancheli to regain exposure, and he began to receive frequent commissions, as well as performances within Europe and North America.
Championed internationally by Lera Auerbach, Dennis Russell Davies, Jansug Kakhidze, Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Kim Kashkashian, Mstislav Rostropovich, and the Kronos Quartet, Kancheli has seen world premieres of his works in Seattle, as well as with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur. He continues to receive regular commissions. New CDs of his recent works are regularly released.
His work Styx is written for solo viola, chorus and orchestra. It is a farewell to his friends Avet Terterian and Alfred Schnittke, whose names are sung by the choir at certain points.
For two decades, he served as the music director of the Rustaveli Theatre in Tbilisi. He composed an opera Music for the Living, in collaboration with Rustaveli director Robert Sturua, and in December 1999, the opera was restaged for the Deutsches National Theater in Weimar.
He has written music such as for Georgi Daneliya's science fiction film Kin-dza-dza! (1986) and its 2013 animated remake.