Russia plane crash
At least 60 members of the Red Army Choir were on board the ill-fated plane. In Picture: Singers and orchestra members of Red Army Choir, also known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, perform in Moscow, Russia March 31, 2016.Reuters

A Russian defence ministry plane, Tu-154, crashed on Sunday with 92 people on board. The plane crashed off the Black Sea coast after taking off from Sochi.

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The plane was carrying several passengers including journalists, servicemen and musicians from the famous Red Army Choir. There were least 60 members of Red Army Choir on board the plane, who were all heading towards Syria to entertain the Russian troops in the country as part of the New Year celebrations.

Massive search operations are being conducted, even as 11 bodies have been found and were flown back to Moscow. Russia has declared December 26 as a day of mourning as mark of respect for the dead.

The Alexandrov Ensemble or popularly known as the Red Army Choir is an official army choir of the Russian Armed Forces. The Ensemble was founded during the Soviet Union days consists of a male choir, an orchestra and a dance ensemble.

Though the Ensemble consists of around 100 and 120 members, the orchestra did not fly the choir and supposed to use a pre-recorded music. Only the choir and handful dancers were aboard the plane, Interfax news agency reported.

The Ensemble concerts have taken them from the ruins of post-WWII Europe to Afghanistan during Soviet invasion and to Chechnya.

5 things about the Red Army Choir:

  • The Ensemble is named after its first director, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov, and was founded in 1928
  • The Ensemble is known across Russia and the former Soviet Union and is also loved in China. It also performs throughout the world.
  • The Ensemble performs a wide variety of music that includes folk tunes, hymns, operatic arias and popular music. It specialises in patriotic melodies and songs about the Great Patriotic War.
  • It was given the Order of the Red Banner and was renamed the Red Army Red-bannered Song and Dance Ensemble of the USSR in 1935.
  • The Ensemble, since 1991, has become an item of pop culture. They performed Sweet Home Alabama with Leningrad Cowboys at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards.
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