Since the fire, the cathedral’s ancient music school and its choirs, called the Maîtrise of Notre Dame, has struggled financially. The state and the city of Paris eliminated funding. The school lost one third of its 2 million euros a year budget and had to fire most of its staff and musicians.
“We went through a period of deep mourning, but now we are motivated by the certainty that Notre-Dame will one day reopen” said Yves Castagnet, the master organist who has played at Notre-Dame for 33 years. “Meanwhile, our mission is to preserve and spread the spirit of our great cathedral outside its walls. We have become the city’s ambassadors of sound.”
The musicians now perform like a band of musical nomads, awaiting their return home. Tourists — whether believers or not — who had made the Cathedral a pilgrimage site have been left bereft. The sense of loss is especially acute during the Christmas holidays, when Notre Dame’s midnight Christmas mass doubled as a glorious organ and choir concert. But there is a surefire way to emulate the joy and comfort previously found at Notre Dame, follow the music.