The Schiller Institute NYC Chorus closed the year giving tribute to the Alexandrov Ensemble (also known as the Red Army Chorus). On Christmas Day, 2016 a Tupolev Tu-154 jetliner of the Russian Defence Ministry crashed into the Black Sea shortly after taking off from Sochi International Airport, Russia, while en route to Khmeimim Air Base, Syria. All 92 passengers and crew on board, including 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble were killed.
Last performance of the Alexandrov Ensemble before the tragic air crash.
Also on board the tragic flight was Elizaveta Petrovna Glinka, celebrated and 3 times decorated Russian humanitarian worker and charity activist, along with the Director of the Department of Culture for the Russian Ministry of Defence Anton Gubankov, seven soldiers (besides Khalilov), nine journalists and others. They were on their way to Syria, to provide comfort and relief to the the war weary population and the Russian and Syrian troops who were doing battle with ISIS.
The ceremony was opened by the Honor Guard of the Bayonne Fire and the singing of both the Russian and American National Anthems by the Schiller Institute NCY Chorus followed by the invocation by FD Chaplin Father John Fencik. Remarks were given by Capt. Donald Haiber, Chief Keith Weaver, Mr. Dmitry Chumakov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation Mission to the UNO, Diane Sare, co-director of the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus, and the Russian trained bass singer Kevin Maynor who also sang the Volga Boat Song and the African-American Spiritual There Is a Balm in Gilead. Also present was Dr. Louay Falouh, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic Mission.
The Schiller Institute Chorus was happy to grant a request from the FDB Chaplin Father John Fencik, who asked that the traditional Russian hymn, Vechnaya Pamyat, Memory Eternal be included in the ceremony. The hymn was directed by John Sigerson, who was joined by tuba player Victor Gutierez and by Kevin Maynor, from Newark NJ, founder of Trilogy, an Opera Company. This was fortunate, because Vechnaya Pamyat is written in C minor and rides on a low C for a good part of the hymn. Mr. Maynor, who studied at the Moscow Conservatory and was also the first apprentice artist from the West to study at the Bolshoi, gave remarks about the Ensemble and about the profound friendship through the arts between the people of the U.S. and Russia that he had experienced.
The video captures the message of Friedrich Schiller that it is through beauty that the truth can be found, and that nations and peoples can work together for a new paradigm for mankind. It is less than a half hour -- you will be glad you took the time to watch it.