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Singing Weapon The Alexandrov Ensemble celebrates 95th anniversary

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Singing Weapon The Alexandrov Ensemble celebrates 95th anniversary

24.09.2023

Elena Khruleva

Photo credit: redarmychoir.com

The Red Army Choirnamed after A.V. Alexandrov (sometimes called the Alexandrov Ensemble), the leading military music ensemble in Russia and the major cultural institution of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation will celebrate its 95th birthday in October. The ensemble's official inception is marked as October 12, 1928, the date of inaugural concert at the Central House of the Red Army, featuring only 12 participants. During the mid-1930s, the the number of artists increased to 300, and its fame went far beyond the country borders.

Alexander Alexandrov, an outstanding choirmaster and conductor, composer, professor of the Moscow Conservatory and the first musical director of the ensemble, aimed to create large music and dance collective that would combine high-level male choir& the orchestra and dance group.

The first Red Army Choir (1928). Photo credit: redarmychoir.com

The ensemble embarked on its first international journey to the World Exhibition of Technology and Art in Paris in 1937, where it was granted the Grand Prix award. Throughout the tumultuous years of the Great Patriotic War, the Alexandrov Ensemble displayed unwavering dedication by staging over 1400 concerts, including performances on the front lines. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the ensemble the ’singing weapon for this deed.

The repertoire of the Red Army Choir includes more than 2,000 songs by Soviet, Russian and foreign authors. There are folk songs and dances, spiritual music, classical works by Russian and foreign composers, masterpieces of world rock and pop music, and military dances .

The works are performed in a wide array of languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Hebrew, Indian, Turkish and many others. In fact, in every country where the ensemble performs, the soloists and choir render several songs in the native language of the audience. As an example, during a recent tour in the DPRK, the ensemble featured many musical compositions in the Korean language.

Photo credit: redarmychoir.com

Throughout its existence, the ensemble has embarked on tours to 78 countries across the globe, encompassing Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa. Furthermore, it has held numerous concerts even in areas of conflict, including Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Transnistria, Tajikistan, Chechnya, and Syria.

A grand concert by the ensemble to take place on October, 13 at the State Kremlin Palace to honor its anniversary. Popular pop artists and musical groups will come to congratulate the ensemble participants.

Lev Shelogurov, the ensemble's director, noted that the Kremlin concert will showcase all the primary facets of the group with vibrant melodies, songs, and dances. The performance will include renowned works like The Holy War and Kalinka, featuring a rich representation of military songs, popular opera music arranged for Russian folk instruments. Furthermore, the audience anticipates a captivating display of Russian folk songs and dances, as well as a fusion of jazz and contemporary pop compositions.

Despite the seemingly conservative nature of the ensemble, it is constantly working on updating its repertoire, presentation, and stage sound, Kirillov said. The orchestra has to work in almost all musical directions - folk, symphonic, pop and even jazz.

The Alexandrov Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Russian Army has recognizable sound attributed to the orchestra's timbre and its ability to craft a memorable auditory experience,” says the Artistic Director, Honored Artist of Russia Gennady Sachenyuk.
Alexandrov Ensemble performance on the cruiser Aurora. Farewell of Slavianka

In addition to its exceptional musical quality, the ensemble's ballet plays a pivotal role in its distinctiveness. Principal Choreographer of the Ensemble Oksana Korosteleva, emphasizes the significant contributions made by her colleagues P. Virsky and A. Khmelnitsky, who have meticulously choreographed a multitude of dance routines and developed unique performance style.

Photo credit: redarmychoir.com

The Alexandrov Ensemble keeps up with the times. Since 2019, a female choir participates in some of the performances, making possible to expand the repertoire. Additionally, there is a pop vocal group, as well as a children's music studio where young artists are being prepared to join the main roster.

Photo credit: redarmychoir.com

Director of the Department of Culture of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation Artyom Gorny emphasizes that despite its traditional academic roots, the ensemble continues to deliver dynamically evolving creative entity. It has never stagnated throughout its history. Each concert is a unique experience, bringing fresh and vibrant emotions.

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