July 14th Concert in Paris

By Frank Cadenhead.

The July 14th Concert at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris went ahead as planned last night – with some adjustments for the current health climate. This iconic Bastille Day event, followed by a famous fireworks display, is now in the eighth year, and was televised in France, on Eurovision throughout Europe, and on television in more than 50 countries and on the internet around the world.

Conducted by Eun Sun Kim, the Orchestre National de France had only 65 musicians on stage for this performance (about half of normal) but was also on occasion joined by the children’s and adult Radio France choirs on stage garding a certain space between each vocalist. The star-filled lineup includes singers Ludovic Tézier, Benjamin Bernheim, Fatma Said, Sonya Yoncheva, the cellist Sol Gabetta, violinist Lisa Batiashvili, with 21-year-old Lucienne Renaudin Vary on the trumpet playing music from West Side Story, and pianist Khatia Buniatishvili. The lack of audience drained some of the spirit out of the event and the only applause for the performers was from the orchestra members themselves. Looking briefly at the long and empty park space, Champ de Mars in front of the stage was sad, remembering that the previous year counted some 300,000 attendees. Seeing the sun set on Paris from the circulating helicopter, however, gave some solace. It was followed by the spectacular fire works display using the Eiffel Tower as the centerpiece.

The only part of the concert now on YouTube is Yoncheva singing “Eben? Ne andro lontana” from Catalani’s La Wally – the aria brought to the world by the film Diva. The entire concert will probably be available on YouTube soon.

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