David Mazower's article (in issue 25 of The Cable) on the London Imperial Russian Singers was both interesting in its depiction of the choir and the psycho/social appeal it had to Jewish immigrants.

 

I am sure that there is still some resonance today amongst their descendants. Nostalgia for 'der haim' was certainly present when I grew up in the post-war East End. Listening to Russian songs on the 78 rpm shellac records of my grandparents gave me a lifelong connection with the Russian 'soul', be it Tsarist or Soviet inspired. Cossack songs like Song of the Plains, work songs like Volga Boatmen and love songs – Orchichonya (Dark eyes). Most families I knew had a recording of the Red Army Choir.

Now is the time to reconnect. I am currently a member of the London Russian Choir. One third of its members are Jewish and all shared a feeling of nostalgia which influenced their joining. More importantly the choir was formed and is led by the renowned, talented Russian Jewish singer, musician and composer Polina Skovoroda-Shepherd – a latter day Samuel Alman!

If anyone is interested, the choir welcomes new members, so go on line at: https://londonrussianchoir.wordpress.com.

Cossack dress is not obligatory.

One can also evoke that total emotional tug by joining the London Yiddish Choir also led by Polina. Find the website on: https://polinashepherd.co.uk/choirs/yiddish-choir.

Freddy Shaw

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