Hands Across the Oceans
by Dennis Speed
Jan. 2—The Schiller Institute’s New York Community Chorus on December 30 paid its respects to the nation and people of Russia on the occasion of the sudden, tragic death of 64 members of Russia’s famed Alexandrov Choir Ensemble in a plane crash on Christmas Day, December 25. Twelve members of the Schiller chorus visited the Russian Consulate in New York City to deliver an official message from Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche. This sung and written message was presented to the Consulate by Diane Sare, the founder and the conductor of the chorus.
The chorus performed a selection from J.S. Bach’s “,” cantata BWV 140, and then sang the , composed by the Russian choir’s founder, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov. Alexandrov formed what is officially called the “A.V. Alexandrov Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Russian Army” in 1926.
That choir had been on its way to Syria to sing for those engaged in the victorious battle against terrorism in Syria, just concluded in the city of Aleppo by joint Syrian and Russian military forces, including a successful cease-fire. They were to take part in New Year’s and Christmas celebrations. (Christmas in the Orthodox confession falls on January 7.)
Ninety-two people in total perished, including the famous “Mother Theresa of Russia,” Dr. Liza Galinka, as well as other artists, passengers and crew.
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In the statement, which appears in a complete form immediately below in this issue of EIR, Zepp-LaRouche stated:
The Alexandrov Ensemble has been an expression of the highest moral values of Russia and, like Classical choral singing in general, speaks to the soul and the creative potential of the audience. It is therefore extremely important that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that he is initiating auditions to find the best talents to fully restore the ensemble.
The training of the singing voice is important for everyone, since a well-placed voice can express the creative intention of the composer and directly speak to the same creative faculty in the audience. It represents, therefore, an irreplaceable element of the harmonious development of the character.
I would therefore like to share with you the idea that, in addition to rebuilding the Alexandrov Ensemble, thousands of Alexandrov choruses could be established in schools all over Russia to honor the heroic contribution of Russia in the liberation of Syria and, at the same time, broaden the uplifting effect of choral singing to the young generation.
The New York City Police Department, represented by Lt. Tony Giorgio, founder and head of the New York City Police Band, was one of the first institutions in the world to mourn the loss. Giorgio was personally very familiar with the ensemble. “Giorgio recalled how the famed Red Army Choir teamed up with the NYPD Band to sing ‘God Bless America’ at the Quebec City Military Tattoo in 2011, a decade after the 2001 terrorist attacks that struck on New York and Washington, D.C.,” recounted RT Online:
As the choir sang, Giorgio accepted a single white flower in memory of the lives lost on 9/11. Soloist Grigory Osipov, who led the Quebec performance, was among those who perished in the Tu-154 crash.
Within 24 hours of its being posted on various social media outlets, the Schiller performance had been viewed over a quarter-million times, primarily in Russia and Europe. As of this writing 450,000 persons have viewed it, and there were thousands of comments, the vast majority of which were not only positive, but in one way or another directly referenced the spirit of brotherhood that Schiller’s poem “Ode To Joy” also expresses, itself the embodiment of the Institute’s universal cultural mission.
• You sang fantastically, thank you. I always knew that ordinary Americans were normal people and not spiteful.
• Thank you! This is the best thing that could be done. . . This is what real, honest people with a heart and soul are capable of!
• Actions like this reveal the greatness and culture of a nation. . . Thanks to the performers!
• This, too, will be blamed on Russian hackers.
• This is how understanding between peoples begins, which gives rise to friendship.
• The ordinary people in any country are brothers to each other, and it’s a pity when mercenary politicians promote quarrels among them. Thank you, Americans!
• How are our rulers going to rob us, if we live together in peace? That is their nightmare.
• St. George ribbons. Americans with St. George ribbons. What are the Ukrainians to make of that?. . .
• Thank you, guys! Moved to tears. . . One more confirmation that the American people do not embrace the abominations committed by the American elites. Thank you, American people! Let’s be friends, not enemies!
• Russians value and remember a display of humanity like this. You have done something great, and worthy of the great American nation, and you did it in the best way. Thank you!
• It had seemed to me that all such actions were nothing but flashmobs and other insincere movements, done for self-advertisement!! But I see that things only seemed like that! The simple truths, which everybody is bored with—mercy, sympathy, and honor—are alive! And in a place where we had lost hope of seeing them! That is so good! Thank you!
• Brilliant! The Schiller Institute Chorus members sing wonderfully! Beautifully and from the heart! What’s more, they managed to inject more profound meaning into the words of the Russian anthem, as if opening it up “from the inside.”
• In my opinion, this action by people of art outweighs all the negatives of relations between our countries in recent times.
• So there are at least 12 singing, sane citizens in America! Not everybody is a Psaki! That is reason to be happy! As for our anthem, it really is pretty cool. During sports broadcasts [the poster is evidently a cameraman] I get to hear it alongside the anthems of other countries. It’s majestic.
• Western media: Putin forces Americans to sing anthem at the point of a Kalashnikov! Seriously, though, thank you guys!
The Schiller Institute’s action was the exact opposite of that taken in the creation of the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom against the then-Soviet Union at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1949. That “cultural Cold War” is now being brought to an end. The departure of the Obama Administration, itself a sort of “CCF product,” which thought it appropriate to banish 35 Russian diplomats in the same week as the tragedy occurred, is none too soon.
The avowed intent of the incoming Trump Administration to seek the path of cooperation with Russia, particularly in the fight against terrorism, and with China and other nations in joint, mutual economic development, must be informed by higher cultural standards than those unfortunately presented to the world up until the moment of Obama’s removal from the Presidency—a removal still better done prior to January 20, Inauguration Day.
Why wait? Such actions as the Schiller New York Community Chorus initiated toward the Russian people are the moral equivalent of removing Obama from office now, such that the spirit, if not the letter of an “American New Deal for the world,” might be foreseen, though not simply willed into being. The “new world cultural bridge” that can now be built, need not wait for another moment. The overture may, indeed should, come in a well-composed musical piece, before the opening of the first act.