A long, long time ago, a song spoke of “the day the music died”. While that tune focused purely on American acts, I would state that for a large share of the world (the US included), Christmas Day 2016 was THE day the music died.
The day started off with grim news from half a world away. A Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154 airliner crashed in the Black Sea on its’ way from Sochi in southern Russia to a base in Syria. While the Tu-154 (which has a poor safety record) is no longer used by civilian airlines, this plane was being used to fly military personnel to Syria, most of them to give the Russian troops there a bit of home for the holidays. Among these was the world-renowned “Red Army Choir”, also known officially as the Alexandrov Ensemble, named after their first director. The Ensemble consists of an orchestra, a dance troupe, and the choir, the last group being those lost in the crash. As a former choir singer myself, I’ve always felt that you can teach a person to play an instrument or dance even if they lack some latent talent, but either you’re born to sing or you aren’t. (I barely, JUST barely, made the former category.) We may not be overly friendly with the current Russian government, but music transcends all borders and languages. This is a terrible loss, and I openly grieve with the Russian people over this tragedy.
Then, in the last few hours, I heard of the loss of George Michael. I don’t think I need explain his contributions, especially to my readers over the age of about 35. Wham! and his solo career both spawned numerous hit singles and albums, and I think most of us could recall the words and tunes of many of his biggest hits without too much effort. What a horrific end to a day that had already started with the loss of the Red Army Choir.
I’ll close with a remark repeated by a BBC anchorman. “We started 2016 with David Bowie, and end with George Michael. Enough, 2016. No more.” While we still have a week to go, I hope and pray that we lose no more of the music this year.
And as a footnote, spare a thought for Carrie Fisher. While I’ve always been a Trekkie, I remember standing on line in 1977 to see “Star Wars”, and remember the absolute awe and wonder with which I left the theatre (sorry, that should be “cinema” to be correct). While I enjoyed her part in “The Blues Brothers” (another huge favourite of mine), I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Princess Leia. Let’s all hope that she will borrow just a bit from my favourite TV and film … well, “enterprise”, and may she “live long and prosper”.