From SF with Love: Notre Dame organist plays at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral at solidarity concert

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A show of solidarity between San Francisco and Paris took place Monday night at Grace Cathedral in honor of Notre Dame-- which was badly damaged by a fire two weeks ago.

Grace Cathedral hosted a free concert for people to come together and listen to music in honor of Notre Dame and other places of worship around the world.

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"It's important to remember the churches in Louisiana that were burned by arson, it's important to remember the people who died in Sri Lanka in the church bombings and now what happened in the synagogue in San Diego. This is for all people who recognize that we need sacred spaces in our world," said Rev. Malcolm Clemens Young, the Dean of Grace Cathedral.

In all, 5,000 people showed up to the concert and filled the church, its overflow rooms and outside courtyard. Grace broadcasted the event in Huntington Park across the street, filling Nob Hill with the beautiful sounds of song and orchestral music.

Mayor London Breed was in attendance and spoke on behalf of San Francisco, which is Paris' sister city.



The Consul General of France in San Francisco, Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, spoke eloquently, saying, "In the midst of our dismay, messages of support from California came to remind us that in our love for this Mother, we had a sister: San Francisco; the Paris of the West."

Musicians from the San Francisco Symphony and Opera performed, as well as Johann Vexo, who is one of the organists at Notre Dame in Paris.

"I was playing a mass when the first alarm rang in the Cathedral," explained Vexo, who added, "it was terrible. As you can imagine, we were all very devastated."

Vexo evacuated Notre Dame the day of the fire and has not been back inside since, though he hopes to return to play the organ in three or so years after some repairs are made. He flew to Washington D.C. for a solidarity concert and just arrived in San Francisco over the weekend for the Grace event.

"It's very touching to see so many people from all around the world, but especially here in the United States touched by this catastrophe."

"I felt myself choking up a few times. It was just beautiful, beautiful music," said Jennifer Johnson, who drove to San Francisco from Danville with her daughter for the event.

"This was important, to show solidarity, to know that were being affected in so many different ways and to just really appreciate music," said Johnson.

RELATED: Notre Dame Cathedral Fire: Investigators think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused Paris blaze, AP reports

Grace wanted to make clear that the concert was free and not a fundraiser, but if people feel compelled to donate on behalf of Notre Dame, Sri Lanka and the burned churches in Louisiana, they can do so on the diocese of California website.

Check out more stories and videos about the Notre Dame Cathedral fire.
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