AN 2 2002

The Red Army Chorus

Album information

The A.V. Alexandrov Ensemble of the Soviet Army, twice-decorated with the Order of the Red Banner and Red Star, is one of the foremost artistic groups of the ex-USSR. It bears the name of its founder and first director, Alexander V. Alexandrov, professor of the Moscow Conservatory, talented composer and conductor, and deservedly, a people’s artist of the USSR. The first Ensemble took stage on October 12, 1928 in the Central Palace of the Soviet Army. It was composed of 12 people—a vocal octet, two dancers, and two musicians, but by the mid-1930’s, the Ensemble had already grown into a large performing group, becoming a large male choir with an orchestra and dance group.

In their first works, the Ensemble told through their art of the exploits of the regiments and divisions of the Red Army fighting on the fronts of the Civil War. In 1929, the Chorus went to the former Soviet Far East, along with troops working on the Far Eastern Railway. They reached their audience any way they could, by truck, cart, and just plain on foot. Even in the worst of conditions they gave several concerts a day.

In the 30’s, the Ensemble was continually on the road in the military districts, performing for sailors, and undertaking tours of major construction sites. In 1937, the Chorus went abroad for the first time, representing Soviet Art at the Paris Exposition. Its appearance in France met with exceptional success. In 1938, the group returned to the Far East, where in the space of five months they performed in towns, garrisons, and warships of the Pacific fleet. Then the group was sent to Lake Khasan where it gave a concert series for the troops in action there against the Japanese.

During World War II, the Red Army Chorus gave more than 1500 concerts on the front and rear. The artists appeared before men about to go into battle, in gun emplacements and airfields, and in hospitals.

Until 1989, the Chorus had visited about 40 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The Montreal paper “La Presse” said of their Canadian Tour of 1987, “The chorus, under B. Alexandrov’s direction, is unarguably the best in the world of the genre. The concert was a display of pyrotechnic virtuosity.”

During forty years (1946-1987) the talented composer and conductor Boris Alexandrov took over the Ensemble. He not only kept the best of his father’s work, but took the group farther along the road to perfection. On their last tour in 1989, the Ensemble included a male chorus section, a mixed dance group, and an orchestra, in all about 200 performers. Most of the soldier-artists have a specialized musical or choreographic education.

Here are the greatest moments of these two memorable tours. The conductors are Col. Anatoly Maltsev and Igor Agafonnikov. Ivan Bukreev, Edward Dabkovski, Leonid Pshenichni, Vasily Shtefutsa, and Boris Zhaivoronok are among the most popular soloists of the Chorus.

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