The Mayor of Lyon has announced five days of mourning for the victims of the Paris terror massacres.
The national orchestra of Lyon were informed of the cancellation of their Saturday concert two hours before it was due to start.
Their music director, Leonard Slatkin, who led the BBC Proms with dignity and calm in the terrible week of 9/11, planned to say a few words to the audience and musicians. He has allowed Slipped Disc to publish his intended speech.
Tonight’s program was intended as a celebration, filled with joy and good feelings. The horrific attacks in Paris have reminded all of us that we live in perilous times. What do we do in the face of senseless violence? How do we explain it to our children and ourselves?
On stage tonight, you see the members of the ONL. They are joined by colleagues from the Opera de Lyon. We come together to help bring a degree of solace and comfort to you. What cannot be said with words is best conveyed by music.
Instead of the announced pieces by Sir William Walton, we will play the Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. This piece has become the one the world turns to in times of grief and sorrow. It was heard at the funeral of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was played by orchestras around the world after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And it was the work of choice after the atrocities of Sept. 11.
The Adagio has been called, “The Saddest Piece of Music Ever Written.” I do not agree. The aching, long melodic line is a thing of beauty, not tragedy. The crescendo at the works climax is one of the greatest affirmations of music’s power. And the ending, indefinite, reminds us that the world carries on, even at its darkest hours.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the friends and families of those who perished last night. But the resolve of the French people is strong and we will continue to believe in the best elements of our society, not the worst.
Here is a list of events cancelled and venues shut in Paris. The prefecture has ordered the closure of Salle Gaveau, the Philharmonie and other classical venues.
UPDATE: Message from Esa-Pekka Salonen: Work is best therapy on an immensely sad day like this. Our rehearsals for Bluebeard/La voix humaine resume tonight at Opéra national de Paris