The organist of Notre Dame has given his first interview, to Hannah Abena Schmidt, for VAN magazine:
VAN : WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT THE FIRE IN NOTRE-DAME?
Olivier Latry : In Vienna with my wife. I just arrived at the hotel, a friend’s text message came: ‘Notre-Dame is burning’.
AND HE HEARD IT ON THE NEWS?
No, he lives in Paris and can see Notre-Dame from his apartment. He sent a photo with a small fire on it, and five to ten minutes later, more where the fire was much bigger. I thought the whole cathedral was on fire, and of course the organ – so terrible. That was apocalyptic.
YOU ARE CURRENTLY ON TOUR IN AUSTRIA. WHEN WILL YOU SEE THE ORGAN?
Actually, we’re meant to stay in Vienna until the end of next week, but my wife and I decided to fly to Paris for a few hours on Sunday. We just have to see the church, even if we are not allowed to go in, which is still forbidden at the moment. It feels like a nightmare we have not yet woken up from. Slowly, hour by hour, I understand the reality more and more. This is very hard.
AS A TITULAR ORGANIST, IN AND OUT OF CHURCH FOR 34 YEARS, YOU MUST HAVE A KEY?
Yes I have. Although I don’t go to Paris very often, I spend about 280 nights a year in hotels, but when I’m in Paris, I spend most of my time in Notre-Dame and practice. I try to practice every day that I’m in Paris, and then the cathedral must be free – so I rehearse in the evening and at night.
Read on here.