25 December 2020 10:42
Members of the choir of Notre Dame Cathedral sang inside the medieval Paris landmark for the first time since last year's devastating fire for a special Christmas Eve concert. Accompanied by an acclaimed cellist and a rented organ, the singers performed beneath the cathedral's stained-glass windows amid the darkened church, which is transitioning from being a precarious hazardous clean-up operation to becoming a massive reconstruction site. The choir initially planned to bring in 20 singers but for safety reasons they were limited to eight, wearing hard hats and protective suits. The choir members stood socially distanced to be able to take off their masks — which is required indoors in France to stem the spread of the virus — and sing. The concert — including "Silent Night" in English and French, "The Hymn of the Angels," and even "Jingle Bells" — was recorded earlier this month and broadcast just before midnight Thursday.
The public was not allowed and isn't expected to see the insides of Notre Dame until at least 2024. marked with emotion and hope," and a celebration of a "musical heritage that dates to the Middle Ages." The archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Michel Aupetit, held Thursday's Christmas Eve services in Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois Church across from the Louvre Museum instead of Notre Dame. The Notre Dame choir used to give 60 concerts a year inside the cathedral but has been itinerant ever since, moving among other Paris churches. The April 2019 fire consumed the cathedral's lead roof and destroyed its spire, and only earlier this month did workers finally stabilize the site enough to begin rebuilding. © Other The choir had to wear hard hats as the building is still unsafe FRANCE TÉLÉVISIONS © Other The Notre Dame choir sang in the cathedral for the first time since the fire Pic: FRANCE TÉLÉVISIONS © Reuters Pope Francis gives his Christmas Eve mass to a small congregation at St Peter's Basilica © Other St Peters Square was on empty on Christmas Eve because of coronavirus restrictions The Notre-Dame cathedral choir has sung inside the gothic landmark for the first time since last year's devastating fire - complete with hard hats and social distancing in place.
Monsignor Michel Aupetit, the archbishop of Paris, held Thursday's Christmas Eve services in Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois Church across from the Louvre Museum instead of Notre-Dame. Image: Pope Francis gives his Christmas Eve mass to a small congregation at St Peter's Basilica The choir used to give 60 concerts a year inside the cathedral but has moved among other Paris churches since the blze. A fire tore through the cathedral in April 2019, destroying much of its interior and causing the spire to come crashing down. Earlier this month workers finally stabilised the site enough so rebuilding could begin. Image: St Peters Square was on empty on Christmas Eve because of coronavirus restrictions The Notre-Dame service took place as Pope Francis delivered a mass to a small congregation at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
For the first time since a fire that nearly destroyed it, the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris played host to a Christmas Eve choral concert, an annual tradition in France. In a concession to the fact that the Gothic cathedral is still being rebuilt, the choristers wore construction hard hats and boiler suits, and there was no audience. The concert was recorded at the cathedral earlier this month and was broadcast on French television just before midnight on Thursday. The choristers performed classical pieces by composers Mozart and Schubert, but also a more light-hearted repertoire, including "Jingle Bells." "It was very moving," said cellist Gautier Capucon, describing the experience of recording the concert. "It was the first time we had all been back at Notre-Dame cathedral since the fire, so it was a moment full of emotion," he said in an interview with television station franceinfo. The cathedral, a landmark of Gothic architecture dating to the 13th century and a major tourist attraction, caught fire on April 15, 2019. French President Emmanuel Macron undertook to restore the cathedral within five years. But to date, most work on the site has focused on making the building safe, including clearing up toxic lead from the roof and spire that melted in the fire. In the meantime, Notre-Dame is closed to the public and masses are cancelled. In April this year, seven people were allowed to attend a religious ceremony in the cathedral to mark Good Friday, when Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ.