Neeta Helms and Jacques Vallerand-Parisi found Blue Heart Travel, Inc. on October 18 to coordinate tours to Russia and Ukraine, one year after the Soviet Union falls. An office is opened on Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.
Having sent over 3,000 people to Russia and Ukraine in its first 12 months, Blue Heart takes the Choral Arts Society of Washington on tour to Russia with the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, the cellist who had defected back in 1974. Just days before departure, Russia finds itself in the throes of a constitutional crisis, involving deadly protests and the barricading of its Parliament building. Undaunted, choir, orchestra and maestro “Slava” press forward, coming together for a landmark concert in Moscow—the first time anything other than a military parade had occurred on Red Square. In front of an audience of some 100,000, including President Boris Yeltsin, Russia is opened to the Western world, with millions more worldwide watching and listening to the historic live broadcast.