Health and Healthcare Systems

Cellist turns locked-down museums into backdrop for 'healing art'

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 - RC2NBK9JCXV3

French-Belgian cellist Camille Thomas has been playing at some of Paris' most famous museums. Image: REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Lucien Libert
Reporter, Reuters
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  • The pandemic has seen the cancellation of many live music performances, but one French-Belgian cellist isn't letting it get in the way of sharing her art.
  • Camille Thomas has been filming herself performing in empty museums around Paris and sharing the videos on the internet.
  • During France's lockdown, she's performed at the Palace of Versailles and the Institute of the Arab World, both shut due to the COVID-19.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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