Late Total CEO honored by famed Russian orchestra, conductor

St. Petersburg’s famous Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra led by conductor Valery Gergiev held a concert of Russian and French music in memory of the late CEO of Total, Christophe de Margerie, who was killed in a plane crash in Moscow.

The 1783-founded Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Theater’s symphony orchestra traveled to Moscow to perform at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall on Monday.

The concert served as a poignant tribute to de Margerie, who not only headed the fourth-largest Western oil company Total, but also contributed to the cultural exchange between France and Russia, according to the artistic director and principal conductor of Mariinsky Theater, Valery Gergiev.

“Today’s concert marks not only the traditional December arrival of the Mariinsky Theater to Moscow. It is also a concert dedicated to the memory of Christophe de Margerie, late CEO of Total, who tragically died here in Russia,” Gergiev told reporters on Monday. “He was a brave individual, who was not afraid to tell the truth. He had an honest, fair, and exact assessment of what was really going on.”

READ MORE: ‘Shock & sadness’: Total CEO dies in Moscow plane crash

“With this concert, I wanted to highlight that not only Mariinsky Theater, but all of Russia have friends who were very gifted people, blessed with amazing talents, and like Christophe de Margerie, with a great sense of humor…This concert is one way to show how grateful we are to him. We appreciate having friends like him and contribution they make to a sound friendship between the nations,” Gergiev added.

Music conductor and Mariinsky Theater artistic director Valery Gergiyev (RIA Novosti/Evgeny Biyatov)

The CEO of the second-biggest French company was killed in a plane crash at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport when his business jet collided with a snow removal truck during takeoff on October 21. Three people have been detained, including the snow plow’s driver, and two more have been placed under house arrest in the ongoing investigation into air-traffic safety rules breach.

De Margerie had been the chairman of Total since 2010, and was reportedly discussing foreign investment opportunities during his visit to Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a long-time acquaintance of de Margerie, also expressed his condolences.

“Please convey my sincerest condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of Christophe de Margerie – a prominent French businessman who pioneered many of the major joint projects, which laid the foundation for many years of fruitful cooperation between France and Russia in the energy sector … We have lost a true friend of our country and his legacy will remain with us,” Putin said in a telegram to French President Francois Hollande.