Remembering The Members Of The Red Army Choir Among those killed on a Russian plane that crashed this weekend were 64 members of the Red Army Choir. We hear some of the group's greatest music.
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Remembering The Members Of The Red Army Choir

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Remembering The Members Of The Red Army Choir

Remembering The Members Of The Red Army Choir

Remembering The Members Of The Red Army Choir

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/507142793/507142794" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Among those killed on a Russian plane that crashed this weekend were 64 members of the Red Army Choir. We hear some of the group's greatest music.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In Russia, yesterday was a national day of mourning for the 92 people killed when a military plane crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday. More than 60 of the passengers were singers, dancers and musicians who belonged to the Alexandrov Russian Army Song and Dance Ensemble, a group better known by their old name here in the States, the Red Army Choir.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF WAR BREAKS OUT TOMORROW")

ALEXANDROV ENSEMBLE: (Singing in Russian).

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

They were on their way to a Russian airbase in Syria for a New Year's Eve performance. The head of Moscow's culture department said, losing such a great collective all at once is a great tragedy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF WAR BREAKS OUT TOMORROW")

ALEXANDROV ENSEMBLE: (Singing in Russian).

SHAPIRO: This is the group singing "If War Breaks Out Tomorrow."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF WAR BREAKS OUT TOMORROW")

ALEXANDROV ENSEMBLE: (Singing in Russian).

SIEGEL: The ensemble was formed in 1928 as the official army choir of the Soviet Union's Red Army. In uniform, they performed Russian folk tunes, church hymns, operatic arias and even Western music like "It's A Long Way To Tipperary."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S A LONG WAY TO TIPPERARY")

ALEXANDROV ENSEMBLE: (Singing) It's a long way to Tipperary to the sweetest girl I know.

SHAPIRO: During World War II, the ensemble played more than 1,500 times for Russian troops around the world. And when Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met in Yalta in early 1945 to plot out how to handle post-war Germany, the Red Army Choir was there to sing. After he saw them, Churchill called the group Russia's singing weapon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MEADOWLAND")

ALEXANDROV ENSEMBLE: (Singing in Russian).

SIEGEL: This is one of the ensemble's most beautiful and powerful numbers, "Meadowland." The original lyrics are sung from the perspective of a Red Army recruit who proudly leaves his home to keep watch against his homeland's enemies.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MEADOWLAND")

ALEXANDROV ENSEMBLE: (Singing in Russian).

SIEGEL: That's the Alexandrov Russian Army Song and Dance Ensemble, which lost 64 performers when a Russian military plane crashed in the Black Sea on Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RADUJSA RUSSKO ZEMLE")

ALEXANDROV ENSEMBLE: (Singing in Russian).

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