Another Casualty of War
Alexandrov Ensemble

800px-Chór_aleksandrowa_i_balet_27_października_2009_warszawaFlying is supposed to be the safest form of transportation; at least that’s what statistics will tell you. In very recent memory, a crash in South America has received lots of media coverage because it carried a first division Brazilian football team, including athletes, officials, journalists and other guests travelling with the delegation. Nearly everybody on that plane perished. Air accidents involving sports teams have happened in the past, like the Munich air disaster of 1958, which saw the death of several members of the Manchester United football team. In business circles, higher management is expressively forbidden to travel on the same airplane, but sports teams and musical ensembles don’t have such restrictions. And it was only a matter of time for a world-renowned performance troupe to be involved in a fatal plane crash!
On Christmas Day 2016, 64 members of the official army choir of the Russian armed forces, including orchestra and dancers—known as the Alexandrov Ensemble or the Red Army Choir—were killed when their plane crashed into the Black Sea. The ensemble has had an extended history, with its roots going back to 1928. Its first artistic director Alexander Alexandrov composed the music of the National Anthem of the Soviet Union, and led the ensemble in 1500 performances during the dark days of World War II. Following their appearance at the 1948 Berlin Peace Concert, the Red Army Choir gained an international reputation as a highly disciplined and experienced ensemble that “could feel the rhythm simultaneously and could sing and play together automatically, without the conductor.” Over time, the ensemble acquired a repertoire of more than two thousand works, including folk songs, patriotic and military tunes, and light Russian and Western-European classical music. Keeping up with the times, the ensemble has commissioned new songs by modern composers and poets, and even ventured into the pop music scene. The ensemble consists not only of a male choir, but also includes an orchestra, a dance ensemble, and a dedicated children’s choir. As long as military conflict is part of the human condition, musical ensembles will play its part in feeding the egoistical destructive vanity of humankind. The 2016 Alexandrov Ensemble tragedy serves as yet another poignant reminder of the senseless futility of war.

Red Army Choir

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