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FRANCE – TERRORISM

Musical tributes pay homage to victims of Paris attacks, five years on

The Bataclan concert hall has become a memorial site for victims of the 2015 Paris attacks.
The Bataclan concert hall has become a memorial site for victims of the 2015 Paris attacks. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Two very different musical tributes – one hard and the other classical – will be part of events Friday to remember victims of the 13 November 2015 terror attacks in Paris.

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Fifth-anniversary commemorations of the attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, Stade de France stadium and bars and cafés around eastern Paris have been downsized due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

While the Paris Chamber Orchestra will perform a specially commissioned classical work, rock group Queens of the Stone Age will broadcast an acoustic session to raise money for two charities. Both will be available online.

The Orchestre de chambre de Paris, conducted by Pierre Bleuse, has prepared two pieces: an original composition by the Franco-Lebanese composer Bechara El-Khoury called It’s November in my Soul, as well as an uplifting performance of Paris by Mozart.

The original composition was commissioned after a suggestion made by Louise Albertini, who lost her son in the Bataclan attack.

She contacted the Fondation de France, (one of the concert’s partners) and, after several meetings with a mediator in charge of the New Patrons programme, the idea to create a classical piece was born.

“My role as mediator is to accompany the parents in their wish, which is to create a piece of art as a memorial,” explains Bruno Messina, who is also the director of the Berlioz Festival, a major classical music event in France.

El-Khoury has written other memorial pieces such as The Ruins of Beirut, Requiem to Lebanese Lost in the War and New York, Tears and Hope – a musical tribute to the victims of the 11 September 2000 attacks.

Inspired by a poem by Emile Verhaeren, the symphonic work features a movement performed by the mezzo-soprano Isabelle Druet, who sings without words.

Recorded on Tuesday at the Philharmonie de Paris, the concert will be made available to the public at 8.30pm on Friday via Arte Concerts and the Philharmonie Live website, as part of the Paris city hall commemorations.

"For us, it’s essential to make music part of this important anniversary," programmer José Correia told AFP.

Queens of the Stone Age, for their part, will broadcast a previously unreleased acoustic set recorded in Tasmania during their world tour in 2018, via Youtube at 6pm Paris time (9am Los Angeles, 5pm in London).

They want to encourage their fans to make a donation to the two charities they are supporting.

The first is the Nick Alexander Memorial Trust, named after one of the Bataclan victims, which helps buy instruments for community groups in underprivileged neighbourhoods in the UK. The second, Life for Paris, was set up to help victims and their families rebuild and move on with their lives.

The leader of the Queens of the Stone Age, Josh Homme, is a close friend of the singer of Eagles of Death Metal, the band that was performing at the Bataclan when the attack took place.

"Our show in Tasmania was destined to raise money for a children’s hospital in Hobart, and we’re so pleased that we have a second chance to do some good," Homme said in a statement.

"2020 has really been an awful year and people in need really need you more than ever. If you can donate, please do."

 

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