Sasha's Song

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2015010620150110 (R4)

Sasha Tsaliuk fights for his Moscow A Capella Jewish choir in a rapidly changing Russia.

In a rapidly changing Russia, Sasha Tsaliuk continues to fight for the existence of his beloved Moscow Acapella Jewish Choir. Formed as the Soviet Union collapsed around him, Sasha came to the choir as conductor when it was a potent, exciting and hopeful symbol of the new Russia. Here was music both sacred and folk that had been arrested, buried and silence by Communism, anti-semitism and the hammer blow of war- it was the return of those voices long stifled.

Whilst many of Sasha's contemporaries left to begin new lives abroad Sasha stayed, believing the choir offered hope and progress for the best of modern Russian values. Tsaliuk had once performed in the legendary Big Soviet Children's Choir, beloved across all of the Soviet Union. Singing to the Party highups and travelling the length and breadth of the Union. Now Sasha lives to revive Jewish Russian music; the music of the vanished world of his grandparents. His choir has won international acclaim on its many tours and draws diverse audiences at home. Frequently it performs for the mega rich who find it charming and fashionable. But Sasha's perfect dinner jacket hides deep worries.

The choir perennially struggles for funding and the Russia he hoped would be home to the choir is perplexingly different and volatile. Every night, Sasha is up late on Skype scouring the world for sponsors. As the Moscow Jewish Acapella Choir marks its 25th anniversary Monica Whitlock hears its story and encounters Sasha's world.

Producer Mark Burman.