The musicians of the Central Military Band of the Russian Ministry of Defense brought the profound sound of bell ringing to Red Square at the finale of the ninth evening show of the Spasskaya Tower International Military Tattoo. This year, the Festival is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary.
The sounds of the bells accompanied the Tchaikovsky The Year 1812, Solemn Overture, performed by the Festival’s combined band featuring about 1500 Russian and foreign musicians.
According to Konstantin Petrovich, Сonductor of the Central Military Band of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the musicians use these bells only for the most significant events, including the Spasskaya Tower Festival and the Great Victory Parade on Red Square. “We take great care of the bells, because only we have such a bell set. And we use it only for special occasions”, the musician explained.
He said that the first bells of the set were cast back in the Soviet period, then step by step the set gained new ones. Konstantin Petrovich also said that each bell had its own voice.
Speaking about the bell ringing being used in music, Konstantin Petrovich recalled that it was first performed in Mikhail Glinka's Ivan Susanin opera, and then Modest Mussorgsky used the bells in his Boris Godunov opera. Later, it became common for Russian composers to resort to bell-ringing. For example, bells were also used in the Soviet period, for example, in the Poem in memory of Sergei Yesenin by Georgy Sviridov.
“Bells are associated with spirituality. The ringing of bells is a blessing, such a unifying principle, which is very in tune with the ideas of the Spasskaya Tower Festival,” emphasized the conductor.
But, when onstage at the Spasskaya Tower Festival, the Central Military Band never seizes an opportunity to manage a mischief. This time, the guests on the stands were thrilled to listen to a popular children's song about the grandmother and two geese and see a funny sketch performed by the band’s musicians.
"We compose our defile together," said Konstantin Petrovich. "Sergey Durygin, our bandmaster, selects the music, then the pieces get arranged. Everything is carefully checked. When selecting the repertoire, we usually think about the audience. The conductor stated that choosing the repertoire should be simple.
Thus, this year, the Combined Band of the Central National Guard District Headquarters included in their performance a popular song, the anthem of all astronauts, Grass at the House. Several other music ensembles performed the Lube popular Russian band hits, while Egypt and Armenia brought to Moscow the famous Katuysha and My Dear Muscovites compositions, respectively.
“We are grateful to all the foreign ensembles for coming. They are all great musicians. Year by year, the Spasskaya Tower Festival is gaining momentum, becoming better and better” Konstantin Petrovich shared his opinion about his foreign colleagues.
According to him, the Spasskaya Tower is not just a festival, but a big meeting of friends. "There is an active creative exchange going on here. Band conductors sit in the stands, looking at each other, noticing something, discussing, communicating. This is a real school for all military musicians. And thanks to this, both Russian military bands and foreign ones are getting better, because everyone understands that this is Red Square, this is a landmark Festival and we must fit", emphasized the musician.
As a matter of good tradition, the musicians of the Central Military Band usually perform together with the stars invited to the Festival. This year, the ensemble shared the stage with Fyodor Rytikov, soloist of the male chamber choir of the Zaikonospassky Monastery, Oleg Gazmanov and Sergey Mazaev, popular Russian singers, and Vasily Ladyuk, one of the best Russian opera performers and soloists of the new generation. They also accompanied the performance of SHAMAN.
The Central Military Band of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation is the leading creative group of the Russian Armed Forces and one of the world’s best known military bands. It has the honor of taking part in major political, social, and cultural events in the country, featuring state official events and military parades on Red Square.
The band recorded the State Anthem of the Russian Federation, regarded as the standard of excellence. It has also recorded an anthology of Russian military music, stored now in the State Archive of Television and Radio Programs.
While the majority of military bands perform in modern-day pattern uniforms, the musicians of the Russian Ministry of Defense's Central Military Band chose stunningly beautiful concert costumes stylized after the Preobrazhensky Regiment's drum-majors.
The ninth night of the Festival also welcomed the Military Band and Honor Guard Unit of the 154th Preobrazhensky Regiment, the Central Band of the Russian Border Guard Service, the Central Band of the Russian Navy named after Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (along with the Young Alexandrovs and Znamensky Drummers ensembles), the Great Military Band of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces ‘Supreme Commander Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias’ from Venezuela, the Exemplary Band of the Russian National Guard Forces, the Combined Band of the Central National Guard District Headquarters, the President’s Band of the Moscow Kremlin Commandant Service of the Federal Guard Service with the Honor Guard Unit, the Military Band of the Russian National Guard Chief Department for the Krasnodar Region, the Panghat Performing Arts Group from India, the Boonwattana School Marching Band from Thailand, the Egyptian Military Symphonic Band, the Suvorov Cadet Band of the Moscow Military Music College together with the Girl Drummers Band of the All-Girls Boarding School (the Russian Ministry of Defense), the Exemplary Band and Honor Guard of the Belarus Armed Forces, the Band of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff, the Merry Notes Children's Violin Ensemble, the Combined Band of the Russian Airborne Forces.
Lieutenant-General Kamo Kochunts, the first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, and Major-General Armen Lalayan, the military attaché at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in the Russian Federation, were in the stands as guests of honor.
The Festival is carried out following the Order of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, under the aegis of the Public Council headed by Mr. Alexander Zhukov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, with the support of the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Moscow Department of Culture.Photo: Maria Moskvitsova, Andrey Golovanov, Nikolay Tretyak, Georgiy Basalaev