Cellist turns locked-down museums into backdrop for “healing art”

French-Belgian cellist Camille Thomas plays at the empty Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris
French-Belgian cellist Camille Thomas plays at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, which is closed to visitors during the lockdown due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Paris, France, November 26, 2020. Picture taken November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

November 28, 2020

By Lucien Libert

PARIS (Reuters) – It’s an ideal pairing for the COVID-19 era: a musician who cannot play for a live audience and sumptuous museums that cannot welcome visitors. Cellist Camille Thomas has put them together to create what she hopes will be a balm for troubled times.

She is carrying out a series of solo performances of classic works set against a backdrop of deserted museum interiors in and around Paris. They are filmed and posted on the Internet.

During the pandemic, she has performed at the Palace of Versailles, the Institute of the Arab World and is scheduled next week to perform at the Grand Palais, a vast exhibition space next to the Champs Elysees. All the venues are shut because of France’s COVID-19 lockdown.

A YouTube video of her performing at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris in October had been viewed 36,575 times as of Friday.

“I wanted to symbolise with these images the loneliness of musicians without the public, of museums without visitors,” said Thomas.

She was speaking in a room of the Museum of Decorative Arts this week where she played the Kaddish, a piece written by 20th century French composer Maurice Ravel.

“Of course people need medical care in this pandemic time but they also need care for the soul,” said Thomas, 32, who has a recording contract with a classical music label.

“I believe that art and music is healing and it’s essential to … feel that, after this difficult time, all this beauty is waiting, it’s still there and it’s worth fighting for it.”

(Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Janet Lawrence)