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21.04.2019 Europe

French and international artists gather for Notre-Dame benefit concert

By RFI
Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT/AFP
APR 21, 2019 EUROPE

Artists such as Angélique Kidjo, Benabar and Mireille Mathieu were part of a spectacular benefit concert Saturday evening to raise funds for the Notre-Dame's future restoration.

The courtyard of the Invalides came alive with dramatic lighting and outdoor stages on Saturday night, for a two-hour long benefit concert for the restoration of Notre-Dame featuring French pop, folk and classiscal artistes.

Hosted by France 2 television journaists Stéphane Bern and Marie-Sophie Lacarrau, it was an oppourtunity for the National Centre for Monuments to raise money to restore the 800 year-old cathedral, parts of which were ravaged by fire on Monday.

"300,000 people spontaneously made modest donations, from one to five euros, and in total that added up to nearly 20 million," Stéphane Bern told the audience, realying figures tallied up by the Heritage Foundation.

"Notre-Dame is a religious sanctuary, but it touches us because it is a gothic masterpiece, a jewel in our heritage, it's a book of our history," he added.

"Notre-Dame is practically saved, except for some sensitive areas such as the vaulted ceiling," said France's minister for Culture Franck Riester during the concert on Saturday evening.

"The other delicate parts of the church affected by the fire have now been secured, and that's great news," he enthused.

Dozens of artists from diverse backgrounds appeared on stage, such as singer Mireille Mathieu, the cellist Gauthier Capuçon and the pianiste chinois Lang Lang.

The members of the musical "Notre-Dame de Paris" also appeared, their songs interspersed with several sequences re-telling the history of Notre-Dame and how it might best be restored.

Angélique Kidjo, from Benin, sang "J'ai deux amours", referring to Paris and her native Africa.

Popular French numbers Pretty Yende, Bénabar, Anggun, Chimène Badi, Mireille Mathieu, Slimane and Laurent Voulzy also performed to an enthusiastic crowd.

The National Orchestra of France and the Radio France choir performed several classical pieces such as Bach's Passion according to Saint Matthew, and works by Haendel and Mozart.

Defence Minister Florence Parly sent a message from on board the Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier. It featured a video where you can see a view from above showing the sailors forming a picture of the facade of Notre-Dame with the word "Paris" in blue, white and red.

More than one billion euros has already been donated to the restoration of Notre-Dame, coming from companies such as Total, Vinci and Michelin.

Much of the money has come from wealthy families such as the Arnault family which owns the luxury group LVMH who pledged 200 million euros.

On Sunday, the Secretary for Cultural and European affairs, Amélie de

Montchalin told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche that President Emmanuel Macron wants to create a Europe-wide initiative to save historical monuments in danger.

"The President would like to propose a joint cooperation with his counterparts in Europe in order to help each other out in matters of endangered heritage and share expertise," she said.

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