Russian army's troupe to return after restart
Members of the Alexandrov Ensemble perform in Zlin, Czech Republic, May 11, 2017. [File Photo: IC/Josef Omelka]
This is the first time for the ensemble to perform in China after 64 members of the group were killed in a plane crash, including its former artistic director, Valery Khalilov, on Dec 25, 2016.
The tragedy occurred when a Tu-154 aircraft crashed into the Black Sea two minutes after departing from the city of Sochi.
The members of the ensemble were flying to a Russian military base in Syria to perform at a New Year's concert.
Chen Ping, president of the NCPA, sent a message of condolence to the ensemble.
Zhu Jing, vice-president of the NCPA, says: "The ensemble has performed regularly at the NCPA since 2009. And we are honored to have them back.
"When we learned that the ensemble had started touring again, we invited them to perform at the NCPA."
The ensemble, which is also known as the Red Army Choir, was founded in 1928 and is named after its founder, composer Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov (1883-1946).
The Alexandrov Ensemble perform during the concert in Zlin, Czech Republic, May 11, 2017. [File Photo: IC/Josef Omelka]
It has toured the globe performing Russian folk tunes and patriotic songs using Western classical-music and traditional Russian instruments.
Now, the ensemble comprises a choir, a dance troupe and an orchestra.
The repertoire at the NCPA comprises 24 songs and dance pieces, including Song of the Soviet Army, The Sacred War, Escamillo from the French opera Carmen, Moscow Nights and Festival March.
It will also perform Chinese songs including I Am A Soldier and My Country, My Mother.
Speaking about the shows, the new chief conductor and artistic director, Gennady Sachenyuk, says: "The friendship between China and Russia has a long history. So, we are glad to return to China in 2018, which is the year marking the 90th anniversary of the ensemble.
"The year 2017 was very important and special to us. It was a very tough time for the ensemble after the tragedy."
Mikhail Marushevskii, the vice-president of the ensemble, says: "We started preparing and rehearsing for the shows in January 2017 and gave our first show after the accident in April in Moscow, which was followed by a tour of Europe, with performances in the Czech Republic, Israel and Poland, among other countries."
He adds that the ensemble made its China debut in 1952, and the current performance marks their 10th visit.
As for the new performers, Baritone Maksim Maklakov, who now is a soloist, says, "It's a great honor and a great responsibility to join the famous choir and to carry on its legacy."
Maklakov, who joined the choir in January 2017, stood out among 60 male singers when the ensemble held auditions across Russia.
Among the senior artists is Russian actor and singer Vadim Ananyev, who has been with the ensemble since 1987.
He says: "I've been with the ensemble for over 30 years. We sing and dance to serve the country.
"The ensemble has a long legacy, and the military musicians take it to a new level with their creativity."
If you go
7:30 pm, Jan 4-7, 2:30 pm, Jan 6. NCPA, 2 West Chang'an Avenue, Xicheng district, Beijing. 010-6655-0000.