Salute to the Alexandrov Ensemble

The devastating loss of 64 choristers, orchestra members and dancers from the Alexandrov Ensemble as well as 9 journalists in a tragic plane crash over the Black Sea reverberates its shock back to my early years. The first time I heard the Internationale, it was sung by the Red Army Choir, the precursor of the Alexandrov Ensemble, on a record of my dad’s. Being a bass singer and chorister himself, my father found the rich timbre and brilliance of the Red Army Choir irresistible.

As a confirmed voter for the Australian Labor Party whom Lenin had described accurately and disparagingly in 1913 as “a liberal-bourgeois party”, my father would not have appreciated perhaps the sentiments expressed in the USSR official anthem, though he loved the passionate Slavic feel of the music. Few things would bring a tear to his stolid Scottish eye, yet this rendition was one.

Somewhere packed away, this record still survives, along with those he brought back from South Africa during the apartheid years, like “Wait a Minim!

Here’s the Red Army Choir in 1993 with the Leningrad Cowboys in Helsinki performing Rolling Stones and many other covers.

And more recently, the Alexandrov Ensemble performed a “heppy” version of “Happy”!

Predictably, bloodthirsty apologists for AQ/Nusra/JFS and affiliates (who in concert with depraved patriarchal oppression of women regard music as “wicked and immoral“) and other obfuscators of US/GCC/NATO contras’ belligerence gloat at the deaths of Russia’s iconic musos.

The enemies of music are enemies of their own humanity.

A Ballad for the Grabbit – Tony Silvertongue

George the Goanna


Do not denigrate our P M
He leads this fair and precious land
And speaks his mind into the ether
Maybe sometimes he leaves his teeth there!

Do not denigrate or call him names
Like Phoney Tony, Flash or James
For princely ears deserve respect
Yet growing debt is what we get.

O Tony who art thou that leads us
Can we trust thy tongue to please us
Can we trust thy silver tongue
Oft times the laird, oft times the merde!

In shiny lycra, dashing knight
Keeping fit in skinny tights
You are our hero of the day
Please make the bad things go away!

Do not denigrate our Prime Minister
Or rhyme Abbott with Grabbit – it’s too sinister
Ruling the unruly mob
He may be the best man for the job …..
Tony Abbott may be God!

O Tony who art thou that leads us
Can we trust thy tongue to please us
Can we trust thy silver tongue
Now the journey has begun.

Copyright Gabrielle Shootingstar 2013

Le Trio Joubran and Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008)

‘This siege will persist until we teach our enemies
models of our finest poetry

the sky is leaden during the day
and a fiery orange at night… but our hearts
are as neutral as the flowery emblems on a shield

This low, high land
this holy harlot…
we do not pay much attention to the magic of these words
a cavity may become a vacuum in space
a contour in geography’

from State of Siege

‘I am dreaming of white lilies
of a song-filled street
a house that’s well-lit.
I want a good heart
not the weight of a gun’s magazine.
I want a day & its sunlight
& no fascist victory exultation in it.
I want a smiling child in this day
not an issue of the war-machine.
I came here because I thought a sun
was approaching its zenith not setting.
I refuse to die
turning my gun my love
on women & children
to guard the orchards & wells
of oil tycoons & tycoons of weapons factories.’

from “A Soldier Dreams of White Lilies

I Have Behind the Sky a Sky

I have behind the sky a sky for my return, but I

am still polishing the metal of this place, and living

an hour that foresees the unknown. I know time

will not be my ally twice, and I know I will exit

my banner as a bird that does not alight on trees in the garden.

I will exit all of my skin, and my language.

And some talk about love will descend in

Lorca poems that will live in my bedroom

and see what I have seen of the bedouin moon. I will exit

the almond trees as cotton on the brine of the sea. The stranger passed

carrying seven hundred years of horses. The stranger passed

right here, for the stranger to pass over there. I will soon exit

the wrinkles of my time as a stranger to Syria and the Andalus.

This earth is not my sky, yet this sky is my evening

and the keys are mine, the minarets are mine, the lanterns are mine, and I

am also mine. I am the Adam of two Edens, I lost them twice.

So expel me slowly,

and kill me quickly,

beneath my olive tree,

with Lorca …

Related Links

Mahmoud Darwish, “Unbeliever in the Impossible”

Poems by Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish Biography

Selected Works: On the 5th Anniversary of Mahmoud Darwish’s Death

Sensational – Assaf on Arab Idol

From the Guardian:

Mohammed Assaf, who is thought to be the favourite to win the TV talent show, has enthralled viewers from Gaza, the West Bank and the entire Palestinian diaspora with his rendition of traditional songs – some lamenting the loss of his homeland – and his self-effacing charm. For many in Palestine, enduring a grinding existence under occupation, Assaf has come to symbolise hope and national aspiration.


Happiness to all Palestinians – may the news of this personal victory for Assaf raise awareness to the plight of his people in Palestine, and zionism be defeated all the sooner with the power of music.

More acclaim has been awarded to Mohammed Assaf. According to Ma’an Newsagency:

Mohammad Assaf, the first Palestinian to win the popular Arab Idol TV singing contest, will also become the UN’s first Palestinian ambassador.

A diplomatic source in Beirut, where MBC’s Arab Idol is filmed, told Ma’an the agreement was signed days ago to make Assaf the first-ever Palestinian refugee to become a UN ambassador. He will become the Palestine refugee agency UNRWA’s first-ever regional youth ambassador, the source said Saturday.

“A man with a golden voice is going to take the Palestinians’ voice to the universe. At long last, a fantastic story out of Gaza that will touch the hearts of the world,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the ambassadorship had not yet been announced.

“It is is a wonderful day for Palestine and for the UN.”

From Mohammed Assaf’s acceptance speech: “A revolution is not just the one carrying the rifle, it is the paintbrush of an artist, the scalpel of a surgeon, the axe of the farmer. Everyone struggles for their cause in the way they see fit. Today I represent Palestine and today I am fighting for a cause through my art and the message I send out.”

UPDATE 24/6/13

‘The rocket fire followed a suprise Israel Defense Forces drill that took place on Sunday.’

So what was this Israeli forces ‘drill’ if not a provocation? a teddy bear’s picnic? – spiteful Israel began reprisals against Gaza last night.