‘Alexandrov choir’s concerts were magical’: Artists worldwide mourn lost colleagues & friends

Most of the passengers on board the crashed Tu-154 plane were members of the world-famous Alexandrov Ensemble army choir, traveling to perform a New Year concert in Syria. Artists worldwide are devastated by the deaths of their colleagues and friends.

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“Alexandrov band was a unique collective which represented our culture worldwide. A great success and full house followed them everywhere. They held their name with such dignity, their concerts have always been magical,” Russian classical pianist Denis Matsuev told RT.

Matsuev never played alongside the group, but knew maestro Khalilov and many of the singers and musicians personally.

“It’s very hard to comment on the tragedy, it hurts inside. I knew many of them personally. My sincere condolences to relatives and friends,” Matsuev said, adding that a tragedy of such a kind is always more bitter when people pass away at their peak.

“You know, there was a lucky chance there, the soloist didn’t make it to the plane because a child was born to him. Sometimes it happens like that. But the whole situation is unthinkable,” Matsuev said.

“There’ve been multiple examples when a famous collective died. You can remember sports teams, Yaroslavl’s Locomotive, a long time ago – the CSKA VVS hockey team, the Pakhtakor football team, in a collision with another plane. From jazz culture – the famous Glenn Miller band.”

It is very difficult indeed to find any words with which to describe the loss that the families of the deceased suffered, as well as the loss to Russian culture, Ilya Reznik, a Russian poet-songwriter, who worked closely with the ensemble, said.

“For the army and for me as an author of the ensemble, whose songs they sang ...we were working with Khalilov on two more songs – [one] about a soldier, and I also wrote a new version of Invincible and Legendary ... the most important thing is that we lost them. It is terrible. I cannot say anything else,” Reznik told media.

The Alexandrov Ensemble members were not only masterful artists but great people, very welcoming and supportive, Kadir Akcaalan, the president of Iznik Cultural Association and founder of the Mehter Band of Iznik, told RT.

READ MORE: Russian plane with military band crashes en route to Syria

“They were very welcoming towards us at the [Spasskaya Tower] festival in 2014. We felt like they were our brothers as they treated us in Russia. We are deeply saddened … we have traveled seven or eight countries with our Mehter team and it was Russia, where we’ve seen the warmest welcome,” Akçaalan told RT.

“I present my sincere condolences to the Russian government, Russian people and the families of the band members. May Allah give them patience. May the place of ones who died be heaven … I wish that this never happened and we would have chance to meet them again.”

General Khalilov was a “fantastic powerful figure” and it is hard to describe the loss, David Johnston, leader of The Celtic Massed Pipes and Drums and friend of the deceased maestro, told RT.

“I was incredibly shocked to hear the news this morning and deeply saddened for the loss of the close family of General Khalilov and everybody else who had lost their loved ones through this tragic accident.”

“We worked very very closely with General Khalilov,” Johnston said, adding that he met Khalilov for the first time in 2010 and that they, “ever since, were the best of friends.”

“His legacy comes into every part of music no matter what type of music you’re thinking about. It’s just a terrible loss,” he said.