TBILISI, Georgia – On a swelteringly hot morning in this elegant capital city recently, worshippers crammed in the ornately frescoed sixth-century Anchiskhati Basilica. Women in colorful head scarves prayed and kissed icons as the venerable Anchiskhati Choir sang harmonically striking polyphonic chants.

It’s a familiar scene in Georgia, a Caucasus country where haunting three-voice chants reverberate through incense-heavy air in ancient churches packed with the faithful. Nationalist pride and the increasing strength of the Georgian Orthodox Church are intertwined with a revival of its ancient polyphonic sacred music, repressed during the Soviet regime.

At the Mostly Mozart Festival on Friday and next Saturday the Ensemble Basiani, a Georgian choir founded in 2000 and affiliated with the Georgian Patriarchate, will sing sacred and folk songs as part of the pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s Bach and Polyphonies series. The ensemble will appear in programs that also feature Ars Nova Copenhagen and members of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

Stravinsky, a contrapuntal master himself, spoke of his fascination with Georgian singing, whose rich polyphonic tradition dates to the pagan era. Georgia became Christian in the early fourth century (six centuries before Russia), and the Georgian Orthodox Church became independent in the fifth century. The chanting that accompanies its liturgy evolved from Palestinian and Byzantine traditions, but from early on, it was sung in Georgian.

Byzantine chant and descendants like Gregorian chant and Russian znamenny chant are traditionally monophonic. But three-voice liturgical singing had been established by the 10th century in Georgia, according to Rusudan Tsurtsumia, head of the International Research Center for Traditional Polyphony at the Tbilisi State Conservatory.

Georgian sacred music, sung with minimal vibrato, resembles the country’s even older three-voice folk music and features distinct regional harmonies. Chant from western Georgia often incorporates dense chords and a busy bass line; chant from eastern Georgia has an ornamental middle voice and a simple bass line. The potent harmonic cadences (often unfamiliar to Western ears) always resolve in a sturdy unison or basic intervals of a fifth.

Georgia is a patriarchal and socially conservative society, but the infrequency of mixed-gender choirs reflects the music’s close harmonies rather than any social dictum. There is an approximately one-and-a-half octave range between voice parts in traditional Georgian music, whereas in Western classical music there could be a three-and-a-half octave range.

In the 1500s the Council of Trent of the Roman Catholic Church fretted that polyphonic singing might distract congregants, but there was never any such debate in Georgia, Ms. Tsurtsumia said. With centuries of internal strife, occupations and invasions by the Mongols, Turks, Persians and Russians (among others), she added, Georgian culture faced far greater obstacles than a few bickering bishops. During the Soviet era, many churches and monasteries were closed, and the chant tradition was suppressed.

“Other countries have allies to protect them,” said Luarsab Togonidze, a historian who has sung with the Ensemble Basiani, but “Georgians are orphans.” He added, “This land is a crossroads and dangerous. Why did Georgians never leave this land and move somewhere safer? There is something magic here.”

It must be a rare visitor to Georgia who isn’t captivated by the stunning scenery, food and music. The small country — ecologically diverse and bordering Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and the Black Sea — is rich in relics of defenders and conquerors. Farmers scythe hay in the shadow of crumbling 10th-century fortresses and ghostly factories. Churches and monasteries dot the landscape in impossibly beautiful settings, like the medieval Gergeti Trinity Church, an architectural gem nestled in fields of wildflowers.

But the country’s shaky infrastructure, while being modernized, is perhaps symbolized by Tbilisi’s beautiful Old Town, where balconies crumbling from neglect and a 2002 earthquake jut precariously over the narrow streets.

Since 1991, when Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union (Russia and Georgia were engaged in a conflict in 2008), there has been a major effort to preserve its musical heritage. During a rehearsal in a room decorated with fading photos of Georgian bishops, Nino Naneishvili, 26, director of the female Ialoni choir, said that young people are increasingly discovering the chants by attending church. Sacred music, she added, is an integral part of Georgian identity. Zaal Tsereteli, a founding member of the Anchiskhati Choir, an important ensemble in the post-Soviet cultural revival, said he often hears of people inspired to join choirs after encountering the music in church.

But the manner of learning both sacred and folk music has significantly changed. John A. Graham, an ethnomusicologist, tour guide and Princeton Ph.D. candidate, who is writing his dissertation on the transcription and transmission of Orthodox liturgical chant, said Georgian folk and sacred music was primarily an oral tradition until the late 19th century. But the heritage was already under threat by then, since Georgia had been annexed by Russia in 1801, and its language and chanting were suppressed.