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    Members of the Alexandrov Russian Army song and dance ensemble

    64 Members of Russian Army’s Famed Alexandrov Choir Feared Dead in Tu-154 Crash

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    Tu-154 Crash in Black Sea (86)
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    A Russian military plane taking the renowned Alexandrov Ensemble, the army’s official choir, to a concert at a Russian air base in Syria, crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday. All 92 passengers and crew on board are feared dead.

    According to a list of passengers and crew published by the ministry, there were 64 members of the choir, and their conductor Valery Khalilov on board the crashed plane.

    Members of the choir were travelling to Syria to celebrate the New Year with Russian troops.

    The Alexandrov Ensemble is an official army choir of the Russian Armed Forces. It consists of a male choir, an orchestra, and a dance group.

    Since its inception in 1928 the Ensemble, named after its first director, Alexander Alexandrov, has entertained audiences both in Russia and throughout the world, performing a range of music including folk tunes, operatic arias and popular music and releasing numerous records.

    The Alexandrov Ensemble has performed at many hot points in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Transdnestr, Tajikistan and Chechnya and played to packed audiences in more than 70 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

    Members of the Aleksandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army perform at the concert marking the Day of the Union State at the 25th International Art Festival Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk. (File)
    © Sputnik / Viktor Tolochko
    Members of the Aleksandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army perform at the concert marking the Day of the Union State at the 25th International Art Festival Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk. (File)

    The Ensemble has been awarded numerous prestigious Russian and international awards, including the Grand Prix in Paris in 1937, the Gold Album in France in 1954 and the 1961 Golden Discus Thrower Record of the Year Prize from the French Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

    On November 22, 2016, the Alexandrov Ensemble performed for the first time on stage at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow with a concert dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Moscow.

    Members of the Aleksandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army perform at the concert marking the Day of the Union State at the 25th International Art Festival Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk. (File)
    © Sputnik / Viktor Tolochko
    Members of the Aleksandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army perform at the concert marking the Day of the Union State at the 25th International Art Festival Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk. (File)
    The Alexandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army during the final rehearsal of the opening ceremony of the 2015 International Military Music Festival 'Spasskaya Tower' on Moscow's Red Square. (File)
    © Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich
    The Alexandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army during the final rehearsal of the opening ceremony of the 2015 International Military Music Festival 'Spasskaya Tower' on Moscow's Red Square. (File)

    Commenting on the possible loss of 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble in an interview with RIA Novosti, the head of the Moscow City Department of Culture Alexander Kibovsky said he was shocked by the magnitude of the tragedy.

    “This is more than just an ensemble. It is our pride and glory. It was with good reason that many in the West called it ‘the Kremlin’s singing weapon,’ because the positive energy and pride for our country they projected  [during their performances].”

    “They were the ultimate professionals, a unique symbiosis of talent,” Kibovsky said.

    Head of the Aleksandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army, Valery Khalilov. (File)
    © Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev
    Head of the Aleksandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army, Valery Khalilov. (File)

    He admitted that he just didn’t know how they were going to  fill the gaping void left by the tragic loss of much of the famed ensemble’s lineup.

    “Ensembles like this take decades to mature. The simultaneous loss of such an amazing collective is a great tragedy whose impact we are yet to comprehend,” Kibovsky added.

    President Vladimir Putin has ordered a state commission to look into the crash and sent his condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

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    Tu-154 Crash in Black Sea (86)

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