WATCH: Merry Christmas from fire-ravaged Notre-Dame cathedral
Christmas Eve choral concert, an annual tradition in France, was recorded at the cathedral earlier this month, and was broadcast on French television just before midnight on Thursday.
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."
HERE'S THE VIDEO:
The choir of Notre Dame Paris singing IN the cathedral, to be broadcast on Christmas Eve. Music expresses so much that words can't. https://t.co/Fj9zMUqNs3— Howard Goodall (@Howard_Goodall) December 22, 2020
"It was very moving," said cellist Gautier Capucon, describing the experience of recording the concert. Along with an organist, he provided the musical accompaniment for the choir.
"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.
Wearing hard hats and protective suits, the choir of Notre Dame Cathedral sang inside the Paris landmark for the first time since last year’s devastating fire for a special Christmas Eve concert. https://t.co/fuhATtcJwO pic.twitter.com/SWqmh2T4kc— ABC News (@ABC) December 25, 2020
The cathedral, a landmark of Gothic architecture dating to the 13th century and a major tourist attraction, caught fire on April 15, 2019. The blaze destroyed the spire and roof. 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.
Another concert, audience-free but live-streamed, is scheduled at the iconic Parisian venue for December 31. Performed by electronic music artist Jean-Michel Jarre and titled "Welcome to the Other Side," it was commissioned by the city to replace the traditional New Year's Eve party on Champs Elysées boulevard, cancelled due to coronavirus-related contact restrictions.
The playbill includes parts of Jarre's "Electronica" (2015) and early well-known works like "Oxygene" (1976) and "Magnetic Fields" (1981). That night, visitors can virtually stroll through Notre-Dame's interior using an avatar provided by the musician.
Christmas Midnight Mass in 1948, in the magnificent Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris celebrated by His Eminence Emmanuel Célestin Suhard, Cardinal Archbishop of Paris. This was the first time Midnight Mass was broadcast on French television. pic.twitter.com/7ZAIY1EEsW— Catholic Sat (@CatholicSat) December 24, 2020