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Notre Dame de Paris: Laying the Cornerstone of Western Music 

Christ Church Cathedral (Quadra and Rockland)

Admission: Suggested donation $20  

In April 2019, people around the world watched in horror as a great fire devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, a monolith of French architecture, culture, and music. But the physical structure wasn’t the only aspect of the great cathedral that was damaged; without regular revenue now that the cathedral is closed, the music program is struggling, a program that has run continuously since the church was opened in the 13th century.

Exactly a year later, to raise funds for the music programs at Notre-Dame, the Ancient Music Society of Victoria and Christ Church Cathedral are partnering to present an evening of dramatic readings and music . The concert, Notre Dame de Paris: Laying the Cornerstone of Western Music, will feature ancient music that was written and performed in Paris at the time the great cathedral was being built.

The evening of sacred and secular music will be enhanced by the narrative of a young 13th-century monk from Canterbury who travels to Paris to study. Performers will include a male chorus and three soprano vocalists, along with an assortment of exotic period instruments, including lute, gittern, vielle, shawm, recorder, early European bagpipes, and organetto, a small laptop organ.

“The Notre-Dame school is closely associated with the development of western music and is considered the birthplace of polyphony, a musical style that evolved from religious plainchant,” said Bill Jamieson of the Ancient Music Society of Victoria. “We want to do our part to help the school with a celebration of this music and the cathedral from which it emerged.”

“We are thrilled to host this event in our own Gothic-inspired cathedral,” said Christ Church Cathedral Director of Music Donald Hunt. “Ours has the same acoustics as a 13th- century church, and the setting will help transport the audience back in time.”

Notre-Dame Cathedral

The construction of the cathedral, one of the finest examples of French Gothic design, was begun in 1160 and completed in 1260. Located in Paris on the Île de la Cité, the cathedral is a beloved landmark famous in literature (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) and in history (coronation of Napoleon I and the celebration of the liberation of Paris in 1944). During restoration work, its roof caught fire April 15, 2019, causing extensive damage. Last summer, the French government passed legislation that the cathedral be rebuilt to be exactly as it was before the fire. The reconstruction is expected to be complete for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Ancient Music Society of Victoria  

Formed in 2013, the Ancient Music Society of Victoria presents concerts and workshops promoting pre-Baroque music from the medieval and Renaissance periods.  The society also partners with other musical organizations and provides financial support to performers.