With a refrain in exhausting hats, the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame rings in Christmas By Reuters

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© Reuters. Work on the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) – For the first time since a fire that nearly destroyed it, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris hosted a choir concert on Christmas Eve, an annual tradition in France.

In a concession to the fact that the Gothic cathedral was still being remodeled, the choirs wore hard hats and kettle suits, and there was no audience.

The concert was recorded at the cathedral earlier this month and aired on French television just before midnight on Thursday.

The choir singers played classical pieces by the composers Mozart and Schubert, but also a more carefree repertoire, including “Jingle Bells”.

“It was very moving,” said cellist Gautier Capucon, describing the experience when recording the concert. Together with an organist, he provided the musical accompaniment for the choir.

“It was the first time since the fire that we were all back in Notre-Dame Cathedral. So it was a moment full of emotions,” he said in an interview with Franceinfo TV.

A landmark of 13th century Gothic architecture and a major tourist attraction, the cathedral caught fire on April 15, 2019. The fire destroyed the tower and the roof.

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to restore the cathedral within five years.

So far, most of the work on the construction site has focused on making the building safer, including removing toxic lead from the roof and spire that has melted in the fire.

In the meantime, Notre-Dame is closed to the public and trade shows are canceled.

In April of this year, seven people were allowed to attend a religious ceremony in the cathedral to celebrate Good Friday, when Christians remember the death of Jesus Christ.

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