The cover of this week’s New Yorker is a silhouette of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris at dusk, with a divine and hopeful light beaming through a rose window. The devastating fire at the 850-year-old Gothic church, which has been a property of the French government since 1905, destroyed the wooden spire and caused severe damage to the organ and sections of the roof, but 500 firefighters were able to douse it before it spread any farther.
“She is rocked by the waves but does not sink” is the English translation of Paris’ city motto, and to prove that, the San Francisco Opera, Grace Cathedral, and the Consulate of France in San Francisco will join forces on Monday, April 29, at 6 p.m. for a public solidarity concert in honor of the disaster in San Francisco’s sister city. (It’s free, but you have to register here.)
Per the release, a number of people are scheduled to perform at the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of California on Nob Hill, including mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad, Notre-Dame de Paris organist Johann Vexo, musicians of the San Francisco Symphony, the American Bach Soloists & Choir, and the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys. Among the musical selections are Claude Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 10 and — of course — the Ave Maria.
Speakers include Mayor London Breed, Consul-General Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, and the Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young (Dean of Grace Cathedral) and the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus (Bishop of California).
Just as Notre-Dame has severed its connection to the Roman Catholic Church and its retrograde stances on various social issues, Grace Cathedral has long been a site of a socially conscious ministry aiding the least among us. Yoga classes are held there, and in 2017, it was host to several panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
As many commenters have pointed out, the fire at Notre Dame was a tragedy but three predominantly Black churches were torched in St. Landry Parish, La., in the span of only two weeks. (The suspect, the son of a deputy, has been arrested.) If you attend on Monday evening and you’re a believer in prayer or of a social-justice-minded temperament, perhaps focus your attention in that direction.
Public Solidarity Concert for Notre-Dame de Paris, Monday, April 29, 6-9 p.m., at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St. Free, reservations here.