Last spring, when the first series of lockdowns were happening around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, artists worldwide — singers, drummers and even entire bands — took to their balconies and rooftops to share songs in an outpouring of music and solidarity.
Among the performers raising our spirits was Franco Belgian cellist Camille Thomas, who performed a series of concerts on the rooftop of her apartment building in Paris, France, for her neighbors and fans online. Now, as France faces another lockdown due to a surge in cases, Thomas is taking her COVID-19-safe performances to another platform bereft of spectators — museums like the Palace of Versailles.
“I felt that the loneliness ... I was feeling so lonely also without the public, without the real sharing of the music."
Thomas said she came up with this idea back in March when museums were closed and she was seeing the striking images of iconic art venues empty of visitors. “I felt that the loneliness of this picture was really speaking directly to my heart because I was feeling so lonely also without the public, without the real sharing of the music,” Thomas told The World. “So I started to contact some museums in Paris.”
At the time, playing in museums was impossible. But when lockdowns eased, Thomas was able to develop her idea further. “I thought it was the only way for me to continue creating beauty and sharing music with the world,” she said.
And while Thomas cannot perform for a live audience, she has been playing her Stradivarius cello solo at some of Paris’ most striking art venues such as Palace of Versailles’ Queen’s Theater, Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs — which occupies the most northwestern wing of the Palais du Louvre, the Museum of Natural History and other venues that are shut because of France’s COVID-19 lockdown.
“We are all focused on health and keeping safe. But art is the food of our soul, and we also need this to survive,” Thomas says. “So I think it's the role of artists to try in other ways to create this food for the soul and to help humanity to go through this terrible period.”