By Ian Mitchell
Tickets are now on sale for what will surely be one of the most intriguing music events in the world this year: the Kremlin Zoria. This was the brainchild of Vitaly Mironov. Vitaly told Passport recently that he visited Scotland as a history teacher ten years ago and was so amazed by the similarities with Russia that he saw in Paisley – the hospitality and sense of fun especially – that he decided to do what he could to foster closer relations.
In 1998 he brought the band of the Russian navy to Edinburgh to perform at the International Festival’s Military Tattoo. Soon afterwards he had the idea of staging a similar event in Moscow.
“The event in Edinburgh was unbelievable,” Mironov says. “My blood boiled with the excitement. I thought at the time that Russians would love it. I was so impressed with the pride of the Scots in their military history and customs. It was a very difficult time in Russia, with much pessimism. And I thought it would be helpful to celebrate our own great military tradition.”
The fruit of years of effort was the formation of a company which, with substantial Russian corporate backing, will stage a version of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on Red Square on four nights only, from 13-16 September 2007. There will be nearly 1,000 performers, including 170 from Scotland in five pipe bands. Other pipe bands are coming from Canada, South Africa and New Zealand, with other performers from Germany, Italy and Denmark. The main contingent, of course, will be from Russia and will feature Cossack dancers and large-scale re-enactments of events in Russian military history.
The total seats for the whole run number only 30,000, so early booking is probably wise. Those who miss it will still be able to see it on television, along with an anticipated 100 million throughout Europe.
The phrase to beat tattoo is, in Russian, èãðàòü çîðþ. Zoria, is a direct translation of the English word. But the Red Square event will not be an exact copy of the Scottish one. Nonetheless, Brigadier Melville Jameson, who ran the Edinburgh Tattoo for twelve years, has helped Mironov and his team organise the Moscow event.
Brigadier Jameson says, “New tattoos emulating the Edinburgh model are emerging all around the world, and becoming increasingly popular and successful.” But the Russian event looks to be the biggest and the best.
It has one advantage, the unique setting of Red Square. President Putin approved the plan personally, Mironov told Passport. This was necessary because all the trees along the Kremlin wall, behind Lenin’s mausoleum, are going to be uprooted for the duration of the event, and replanted later. This is to facilitate projection of images onto the walls, just as is done when images of Scotland’s martial past are projected onto the walls of Edinburgh castle. But Mironov emphasises that not a single rouble has come from the Russian government. “We are completely independent,” he says with pride.
Not only that, performers will march out of the Saviour’s Gate and, in doing so, will be creating history. To date, only Russian or Soviet political personages of very high standing have been allowed to share with the Guard on Lenin’s tomb the privilege of marching out into Red Square from underneath the famous clock.