On Saturday the Academic Women's Choir set up in the blockaded Leningrad (now St Petersburg) is celebrating its 60th anniversary.
According to Maria Alekseyenko, who has been singing in the choir since its establishment, the order to create a choir in the German troops-blockaded city in June 1942 was given by Commander of Leningrad Local Anti-Aircraft Defense (MPVO) Nikolai Lagutkin.
About 100 MPVO girl warriors (nurses, civilian patrollers, signalers and sappers) did their ordinary work - stayed on duty in hospitals, extinguished landmines found on roofs, covered monuments, filled up shell-holes with earth and cleared out the ruins. And the rehearsed when they had free time.
The choir's first performance took place in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia on November 2, 1942. That day is considered the birthday of the choir. Listening to that concert were soldiers, MPVO warriors and the blockaded city's residents. The girls performed military songs written by composers Isaak Dunayevsky, Vassily Lebedev-Kumach (verses by Mikhail Isakovsky), and the audience stood up and applauded each time a song ended.
For the years of the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War (which became part of WWII) of the Soviet people against the fascist Germany, the choir performed over 500 concerts. The girls sang at hospitals, factories, military units, and went to the frontline.
After the war the choir did not break up - the girls toured the whole country. Only 30 remain out of the hundred choir participants now, and almost all of them keep performing.
On Monday, November 4, an office of the St Petersburg State History Museum - the Monument to the heroic defenders of Leningrad - is going to host festivities devoted to the 60th anniversary of the ensemble.
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