By Melanie Tuyssuzian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
MARSEILLE, France — Charles Aznavour would have turned 98 this year. On May 21, the eve of his birthday, the Aznavour Foundation organized a solidarity concert called “Formidable Aznavour” to pay tribute to the French-Armenian legendary singer, who died four years ago. The show took place in the French Mediterranean city of Marseille, known for its huge Armenian community, where thousands of genocide victims arrived by boat a century ago.
About 4,500 people gathered at the Dôme concert hall to celebrate the beloved troubadour. Nearly 40 singers, 10 musicians, and 500 chorists performed. The previous edition of the concert, in 2019, was a huge success. This year, various famous French artists gathered again to sing Hier encore, La Bohème, Mourir d’aimer and also Emmenez-moi. The actress and model Géraldine Lapalus was the host of the ceremony. Many generations paid tribute to the musical artist, including Enrico Macias, Nana Mouskouri, Linda Lemay and other established singers as well as the new generation of young French artists, such as DJ Big Ali and Amaury Vassili.
The concert started with a flawless children’s choir, conducted by the pianist Erik Berchot, who played with Charles Aznavour for many years. They made a medley of his most iconic songs, a significant introduction before multiple voices started to strike up the song La Bohème. They restyled Aznavour’s songs respectfully and in a contemporary way. Aznavour used to write timeless songs and it’s even more obvious nowadays. Homosexuality discrimination, war, forbidden love, youth, family, Paris, and of course solidarity with Armenia are among the themes he touched upon.
All the funds collected by the show were dedicated to the Aznavour Foundation, a solidarity foundation founded by Charles Aznavour and his son Nicolas, who lives now with his family in Yerevan, and runs the foundation. It carries out educational, cultural and social humanitarian missions and numerous charitable programs in the country.