With the fall of the USSR, there was also the death of the Red Army. Had the choirs been carried off in the swirl of history? Fake "Choirs" appeared at the four corners of the ex-empire. The public tested them, one by one... And, was not convinced. Real "Choirs” would reappear. The music lovers of all the countries united in the same request... And were rewarded: The "Chœurs de l'Armée Rouge (Red Army choirs)" were reformed.
In December 2003, all France awaited them. A true triumph. The Casino de Paris was sold-out, for 2 performances, even before the publication of the articles announcing the shows.
The Red Army Choirs were a symbol. They were founded in 1928 by Alexander Alexandrov. Their goal was to support the morale of the troops, the fighters in the Far-East. In effect, this men’s choir, all soldiers of the revolution, had an essential role to keep. They were to exalt the revolutionary ideal, the spirit of October. Their voices were going to help the new Soviet people to write the new pages of history. In their voices one already felt the tomorrows who sung to rise up.
In their program, military and revolutionary songs and works of their director and mentor, Alexandre Alexandrov. In 1928, they were twelve, thirteen counting their leader. Then, little by little, musicians and dancers integrated the group. Today, the troop is rich with 400 members. The role of Alexandre Alexandrov was so important, and his works so appreciated, that he would be given the enormous responsibility of penning the Soviet hymn, the famous red flag in sound...exalting the dictature of the worker, of popular democracy and democratic centralism. Listening to this soldiers' choir, one can relive the taking of the Winter Palace or the rebellion of the Potemkine sailors. They were the voice of the brand new USSR - the voice of the Soviets.
The voice of the Soviets. With the revolution over, and the new order firmly in place, the Red Army Choir would see their mission evolve, embarking on world wide tours, spreading the message of the Communistic ideal, and touching the spirit of the working class of all nations. In 1937, during the Paris World's Fair, they would bring home their first great success. After their first concert, they became the sweetheart of the Paris artistic society of the time.
But it would be during the Second World War that the role of the choir would be the most defining. In 1946, Colonel Boris Alexandrov would replace his father. He was soon after named to the post of general - the general of a very special elite corps who would serve the Red Army well in these most difficult of times. The front had been broken, and the enemy was advancing at an ever-increasing pace. The Soviets needed to resist. They needed an army that was stronger than just canons and bullets. They needed dreams, joy, and the music that would help mask the deafening sound of battle thunder.
The voices of the Red Army Choir acted as a veritable barrier against the Nazi hoards. Their sweet harmonies would help forget the menacing advance of the Panzers. Listening to them, the soldiers would rediscover their confidence. Little by little a smile would light their faces. The force and the courage to battle and conquer would again fill their hearts. Their bodies would rediscover the rage and force to be victorious. Fear would be quashed, leaving place for courage and the desire for freedom. The voices of the Red Army Choir acted as a veritable barrier against the Nazi hoards. Their sweet harmonies would help forget the menacing advance of the Panzers. Listening to them, the soldiers would rediscover their confidence. Little by little a smile would light their faces. The force and the courage to battle and conquer would again fill their hearts. Their bodies would rediscover the rage and force to be victorious. Fear would be quashed, leaving place for courage and the desire for freedom.
To arrive at this result, Boris Alexandrov had to choose each member of the choir with care. For him, this mission was of the utmost importance. He had to form an elite battalion. Each member of this "choir of elite" followed an intensive and complete training at the Moscow Conservatory, one of the best in the world. These choirs would quickly become the "elite of the elite." And they proved themselves on every battlefield. After the fighting, the accordions and balalaikas came out of their cases and their rising voices helped to the ease the memories of their fallen comrades, and forget the pools of blood. There was nothing else but that magic moment...a group of men, huddled around a smoldering campfire. The voices took the soldiers far from the mud, the blood, and the agonizing screams and moans of the wounded. Won over by the music, the soldiers would find themselves dancing. All the horrors of war were forgotten for a few moments...an eternity.
In the morning, the soldiers would again be ready to affront the enemy in face-to-face mortal combat. Once again, they would remount the arduous assault. Once again, the Red Army Choir played its role.
Following Yalta, after the German defeat, this group of magnificent voices saw their mission transform. It was the Cold War. The values of the revolution needed to be exported beyond the eastern block. And who could do that better than the Red Army Choir? No longer could they simply sing the glories of the proletarian reality, but they should be the connection with the eternal Russia. For this they dug deeply into the folkloric repertoire of all the Russias. The success of the choir intensified further.
In the Soviet Union, they were superstars. And the rest of the world was beginning to concur. To see the choir live, one had to book tickets weeks, and even months in advance! Henceforth, their mission became political and diplomatic. The Red Army Choir were not just the representatives of the popular army, but also that of the united people of one politic. In Paris, they sold out the "Palais des Sports" for three months straight!
However the organization of their tours was always the most difficult. Obviously impossible to send all 400 members, the choir had to reduce to only 30 to 50 members for global travel. And for the organizer, the logistics turned into nightmares. Organizing transport, reserving hotel rooms, assigning dressing rooms, being careful of hurt feelings, and maintaining the harmony of the group was a monumental task
In spite of all this, the magic worked every time. In their dapper uniforms, they conquered hearts. Their repertoire grew again, as well. From then on, they did not hesitate to draw upon the most beautiful sacred works. The exceptional vocal quality of their ensemble allowed them to work with all styles. Nothing was too difficult. They were the living incarnation of harmony.
In fact, this newfound liberty opened new doors. Under the direction of Victor Feodorov, they dedicated an entire album to the great classic choirs. More than one hundred thousand copies of the record were sold in just a few days.
In 1978, the Red Army Choir changed its name. They became The Academic Ensemble of the Alexandrov Red Army Choir. More than just homage to their founder, it was for the entire troop, a consecration. For the rest of the world however, they remained The Red Army Choir.
The Red Army Choir rests a fortunate mishap of history. The Berlin Wall would fall, and the Soviet Union would disintegrate, but the choir lives on. And their aura is still intact. Their albums continue to sell more and more, day after day.
Even better, in Helsinki, they interpreted "Just a Gigolo," accompanied by the most outlandish Finnish group of the time, "Leningrad Cowboy." The success was incredible. The crowd was delirious. The public wanted more. It was truly extraordinary to see such a choir at a festival like this - an unforgettable memory. And the professionals of the music business didn’t miss the public reaction. Elsewhere, they sang "O Sole Mio." French musician and producer Jean-Jacques Goldman used the choir on his album "Rouge." The greatest voices of the world (including Arthur Elzen, one of the greatest bass voices in the history of the Bolchoi) as well as international artists do their best to work with the choir, as if simple collaboration could transform any song into a masterpiece.
The public has followed, electrified. The Red Army Choir is magic. No repertoire is beyond them. Even better, they can remodel a work to their unique style. A new audience has opened itself to their music, and the choir is ready to satisfy.
The Red Army Choir left its mark on the twentieth century. They have had to adapt to each period, each jolt in history. There is no doubt they will play a major role in the newly born twenty-first.
CASINO DE PARIS: at last on DVD – an entire show of the Red Army Choirs – Alexandrov
More than 150 singers and dancers!
A unique show for everyone, filmed by 10 cameras during the exceptional and prestigious performances at the Casino de Pairs!
Dolby 5.1 Sound
To hear and see the ageless Red Army Choir as never before!
The Red Army Choir More than 500,000 discs sold
Often imitated, never equaled, the legendary RED ARMY CHOIR – Alexandrov