December 30, 2016 – Fort Russ News –
Nicolas Kirkitadze, in Boulevard Voltaire, translated by Tom Winter
To support the morale of the troops: a mission that the Ensemble Alexandrov carried out to the end with élan and pride.
92 people were aboard the plane that crashed in the Black Sea on Sunday. Among them: sixty-four members of the Alexandrov Ensemble (better known as the “Red Army Choir”), virtually all of the choir singers and the director.
They were on their way to Syria to perform for their comrades engaged in the fight against Daech.
To the horror of the heavy human cost there is added the national consternation. The Ensemble Alexandrov was indeed a jewel of Russian culture. “Katyusha”, “The Volga Boatmen”, “Kalinka” … these world-famous Russian folklore tunes have been widely popularized by the powerful imprint of this ensemble which, for decades, presented the voice of the USSR with panache, giving a human and festive side to this Red Army so dreaded in the countries of the West.
It was in 1928 that the general and composer Alexander Aleksandrov (1883-1946) created, with the agreement of Stalin, a military ensemble composed of twelve soldiers who had a gift for singing, dancing, and music in order to exalt the “Ideal Communist” through their songs.
Always on tour with the troops on mission, singing patriotic and revolutionary tunes, the chorus became so well known that it was constantly asked to support the morale of the troops. Between 1941 and 1945 they gave more than 1,500 concerts.
When Alexandrov died in 1946, it was his son Boris (1905-1994) who, until 1987, managed the troupe which now penetrates the international scene, achieving an unmatched level of professionalism and discipline:
“During a concert in Canada, Boris Alexandrov left the stage for half an hour, letting us play and sing alone,” recalls bassist Leonid Kharitonov.
The collapse of the USSR in no way undermined the worldwide notoriety of the troop which, in the midst of the Cold War, was able to conquer the heart of the most savage anti-Soviets. In 2016, Ensemble Alexandrov had more than 200 members (chorus, dancers, musicians) and about 2,000 titles: songs glorifying the old USSR, popular songs, opera arias and sacred music. It is in tens of millions that we count the sales of their discs and places on their world tours.
The small troupe that was originally composed of twelve quasi-amateur mujiks has since alternated, tours abroad and concerts given to the soldiers on mission. For these artists are above all soldiers and patriots, not hesitating to go to the front to brighten their comrades by the vibrant songs of the motherland. Afghanistan, Chechnya, Yugoslavia, Syria — on all fronts resounded the clear and powerful voices of these heralds of Russian folklore, both warriors and artists.
They have fallen as soldiers. For, although the thesis of the technical incident is privileged, it is for their comrades in mission that these voices went to Syria.
Supporting the morale of the troops: a mission that the Ensemble Alexandrov carried out to the end with élan and pride.
The author is a student of history