News of Notre Dame Fire Stuns LCHS Students Who Sang There

Photo courtesy Jennifer Fox La Cañada Choral Artists, an ensemble from La Cañada High School, sang inside the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris over spring break, just 10 days before a devastating fire broke out at the 856-year-old monument on Monday. Although it appears the church’s structure has been saved, the fire destroyed the medieval spire and roof.
Photo courtesy Jennifer Fox
La Cañada Choral Artists, an ensemble from La Cañada High School, sang inside the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris over spring break, just 10 days before a devastating fire broke out at the 856-year-old monument on Monday. Although it appears the church’s structure has been saved, the fire destroyed the medieval spire and roof.

As a devastating fire consumed large parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this week, memories of performing there were still fresh for the La Cañada Choral Artists group.
The ensemble from La Cañada High School performed a matinee concert at the iconic church on April 5. Ten days later, a fire ravaged the cathedral’s spire — which collapsed — and roof, and was reportedly extinguished in 12 hours.
On Monday, the Choral Artists and their instructor were in disbelief over what happened to the landmark where they had just sung.
“We’re all really emotional because of that,” said senior Ellie Chapman, a Choral Artists singer and co-president of the school’s Concert Choir.
“We’ll probably be the last La Cañada choir to sing there,” added Chapman, 18, as five of her fellow Choral Artists performers agreed. “The fact that we can go to Paris but we’ll never be able to go to the same church just makes the experience we had even more significant than it already was.”
Chapman spoke to The Outlook on Monday afternoon, before it became clear the cathedral could be saved. As the fire progressed, LCHS choral director and conductor Jeff Brookey received a constant stream of text messages during an interview.
Brookey said the Choral Artists, a part of the school’s choral music department, include 109 students comprising the Concert Choir and the Chamber Singers. The two choirs — the school has six in all — join together as the Choral Artists when they go on international trips, he said.
The tour of France began on March 31 at the cathedral in Rouen — also named Notre Dame —and concluded on April 5 at a friendship concert held in Puteaux in the Paris suburbs.
Brookey said he remembered learning about the cathedral’s architecture when he was in a high school humanities class. He “fell in love” with the gothic design of the building and wanted to conduct there someday.
“That is so tragic,” Brookey said. “Sorry, I feel like I’m ready to cry.” However, he was pleased to have achieved his goal of conducting there even if the originally scheduled full concert was changed to a 30-minute recital at the last minute.
“That was enough, the experience to sing in there,” Brookey said. “And it was so beautiful. There are so many thousands of visitors every day — when we started singing, all these visitors who happened to be in there stopped and came forward. And it was so quiet, and they listened to the whole recital. We had a huge audience, actually. It was breathtaking.”
Another Notre Dame cathedral highlight was walking through a red door back entrance of the cathedral into a basement and then going to an area behind the altar where a choir loft is, Brookey said.
“They don’t let visitors back there,” Brookey said. Citing the cathedral’s striking structure and stained glass windows, he said, “They’ve done a really good job over the years, keeping its beauty intact — until [Monday], of course. We sang in a lot of cathedrals and Gothic churches on the tour, but that was something special. It’ll take your breath away when you walk in. To be able to perform there was really a thankful experience for me and the students.”
Other tour highlights included performances at the Normandy American Cemetery, which honors U.S. troops who died in Europe, in a wreath-laying ceremony and concert amid rainy conditions.
“We knew it was possibly going to rain so we brought our umbrellas. But it definitely didn’t start pouring until we starting singing, which was definitely interesting,” said Choral Artists member Madison Moore. “It was super-surreal. All of us ended up pulling out our umbrellas, so one thing that I commend both of our choirs for is we stayed completely professional. We were getting poured on so we were really soaked afterward, but we didn’t really change our demeanor. The rain did not stop until we stopped singing.”
The choral music program’s upcoming events include the Choral Pops Concert from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 23, at the LCHS Auditorium and the Chamber Farewell Concert from 3-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 1.

Leave a Reply