A world renowed Russian military conductor killed in a plane crash had connections to many at the University of Georgia.
World-renowned Russian military conductor, Lt. Gen. Valery Khalilov can be found in video after video on YouTube. He is often front and center, leading military orchestras and choirs in Moscow's famous Red Square.
According to Russian media though, on Christmas Day, Khalilov was one of 92 people killed when a military plane crashed into the Black Sea.
Khalilov died alongside the famous Alexandrov Ensemble, the Russian Army's official choir.
University of Georgia Performing Arts Center director George Foreman was in disbelief when told the news by a friend.
"Simply I don't want this to be true," Foreman said.
He had become friends with Khalilov during a trip to Russia and then last month when the conductor spent more than a week in Athens.
The military leader worked one-on-one with UGA musicians, despite knowing very little English. He would communicate at times through an interpreter, but was most effective speaking through music.
"It was just absolutely fascinating to watch the rehearsal, as to how the general would communicate what he wanted the students to do just through motions, through the way he conducted," Foreman recalled.
At UGA, Khalilov led UGA's Symphony Orchestra and the Hodgson Wind Ensemble. The ensemble played marches the general composed himself.
On Facebook Tuesday, the ensemble described how despite barriers, through music they created something beautiful.
"He commented how very pleased he was, first with the quality of playing of the UGA students, but also how they responded to him and really did what he wanted to do," Foreman said.
Foreman took Khalilov to a Bulldog football game against Auburn during his trip. After hearing the UGA Redcoat Marching Band, he started composing a new march called 'The Redcoat March.'
"He took a napkin and drew some lines," Foreman said. "Actually started sketching out what the melodies would be for the march and sadly we won't see that march."
Foreman, Khalilov and others had been planning future trips and musical collaboration between Russia and the university. Now, Foreman is hopeful those plans can be carried out, even after the world famous conductor's death.