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Red Army Choir

Aled Jones uncovers the history of the Red Army Choir, now known as the Alexandrov Ensemble. Plus Birmingham-based a cappella group Black Voices, and Norwegian ensemble Pust.

It might seem a kitsch throwback to the days when music was an essential weapon in the Soviet armoury, but the Red Army Choir still sets the benchmark for military music-making some 80 odd years since it was founded. Now known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, the company of singers, players and dancers still tours the world as a cultural envoy of the Russian state. Aled Jones uncovers the history of the group, from its first glory years when it performed a vital role in promoting culture amongst the members of the Soviet military. He follows it through the Second World War when it gave an astounding 1500 concerts to motivate the troups, and then the post-war years when it had to re-invent itself as a vehicle for national pride across the world despite political resistance to its concerts in the West.

Also in the programme, Birmingham-based Black Voices share their passion for a cappella singing, with an infectious blend of gospel, blues, jazz, African and Caribbean styles, and there's a masterclass in close-harmony virtuosity from Norwegian ensemble Pust.

1 hour, 30 minutes

Music Played

  • A Abramov / R. Plaksine

    My Army (excerpt) arr. N. Istratov

    Performer: The Red Army Choir

    • Silva Classics.
  • [traditional]

    En reell halling arr. Havard Gravdal & Elisabeth Havard

    Performer: Pust

    • Pust Records.
  • Vasily Soloviev-Sedoi

    Let's Go

    Performer: The Red Army Choir

    • Silva Classics.
  • Alexander Alexandrov

    Echelon's Song

    Performer: The Red Army Choir

    • Silva Classics.
  • A. Navrotsky

    The Cliff (Cliff on the River Volga)

    Performer: Leonid Kharitonov (bass), The Soviet Army Chorus & Band, Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

    • Album: Songs of the Russian Revolution.
  • Traditional Ukrainian

    Traditional Ukrainian - Bandura

    Performer: Ivan Savchuk (tenor), Vladimiri Fyodorov (bass), Alexandrov Ensemble, Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

  • Trad.

    The Courageous Don Cossacks arr. Boris Alexandrov

    Performer: Alexandrov Ensemble, Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

    • Private 1963 recording, taken onstage at the Albert Hall.
  • A V Alexandrov / V. Lebedev-Kumach

    Sacred War - military full chorus -1941 version

    Performer: the Red Army Choir, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov (conductor)

    • Taken from a rare, limited edition record, Israel records.
  • Glinka / N. Koukolnik

    The Road Song

    Performer: The Red Army Choir,Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

    • Silva Classics.
  • Alexander Alexandrov

    Alexander Alexandrov - Ukrainian Poem

    Performer: Aleksei Sergeiev (bass), Alexandrov Ensemble, Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

  • Sven-David Sandström

    A New Song of Love

    Performer: Swedish Radio Choir, Peter Dijsktra (conductor)

    • Channel Classics.
  • Louise Robinson

    Street Suite

    Performer: Black Voices

    • The Reason I Cry.
    • BV004.
    • 7.
  • Daniel Brinsmead

    Come Sleep

    Performer: Eric Whitacre Singers, Eric Whitacre (conductor)

    • Private recording.
  • John David

    You are The New Day arr. Peter Knight

    Performer: Convivium Singers

    • Convivium Records.
  • Robert Parsons


    Performer: The Cardinall’s Musick, Andrew Carwood (conductor)

    • Hyperion.


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