Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Berlin Wall in Paris

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and it was celebrated in Paris by a concert and light show in the Place de la Concorde.  It was a glorious cold night and the walk along the riverside to the Place was wonderful.  When we got there we spent some time trying to maneuver into a good standing spot, but wound up in the middle of the crowd, since every direction we tried was blocked by police barriers.  It felt as if they were expecting another world-class revolution.

Invited guests apparently had seats near enough to both the musicians and the buildings to have gotten good photos, but the rest of us had to stand in a crowd several hundred meters away and I'm afraid these are the best I could do.  I swear everyone in Paris over six feet in height appeared last night, just to block the view.  

An elaborate and constantly shifting video was projected onto the facades of the Hotel Crillon and Naval Ministry.  It included news photos of the time, pictures of people celebrating, symbols of the fall of Communist rule in other Eastern European countries, graffiti from the Wall, and ended with a tribute to the European Union, with maps and flags.


The short concert began with a video of Mstislav Rostropovitch playing at Checkpoint Charlie in 1989 and continued with 27 European musicians playing in the Place, perched on stones meant to represent the fallen wall.  I think a chorus was also singing, although I didn't see them and it might have been recorded.


There were fewer spectators than I would have expected.  It was apparently shown on television, so maybe the cold night discouraged personal participation, but my impression is that it wasn't very widely advertised.  No one to whom I mentioned it this weekend had heard about it.  I wonder why?

1 comment:

Emilie said...

shelli - so glad that you made it to the actual event. i am sure the music was glorious. the rehearsal certainly was. i was also surprised how few people knew that such a public celebration of an event was being held. funny. anyway, glad to hear your tale.