Wish of the Aldermen 2022: André Manoukian chosen to present the shield | RCF Lyon

It is a Lyonnais and historical tradition which has been perpetuated since 1643: the ceremony of the renewal of the Vœu des Échevins takes place every September 8 in Fourvière, in commemoration of the promise of the Lyon notables of the time – the échevins – to offer each year to the Virgin Mary “a candle weighing seven pounds of white wax and a gold crown” to thank her for having protected Lyon from a plague epidemic.

The ceremony takes the form of a mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Lyon in the Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica and to which all the elected officials of the Lyon region are invited. Since 2020, the mayor of Lyon Grégory Doucet no longer wishes to participate in the religious ceremony in the basilica. The Fourvière Foundation is therefore asking personalities to symbolically present a medal from the City of Lyon to Bishop Olivier de Germay. After Marie-Sophie Obama, the president of the women’s LDLC Asvel basketball club last year, this year a musician was chosen, pianist André Manoukian. RCF Lyon interviewed him a few hours before the renewal of the Vœu des Échevins.

RCF Lyon: how were you asked to participate in this renewal of the Vœu des Échevins 2022?

André Manoukian: I got a phone call from Bishop Gobilliard who told me ” I’m the auxiliary bishop of Lyon… and I’m a jazzman. I’m going to ask you if you would like to participate in this ceremony “. I don’t think I even hesitated five seconds before giving my answer, before happily accepting. For two reasons: I’m passionate about history and I’m going to be made to do something that has been perpetuated since the 17th century. The second reason is that spirituality is an integral part of music. I accepted without thinking.

It is a religious ceremony where the Archbishop of Lyon invites all the elected politicians of a territory. Is it particular in a secular France as we know it today?

MA: Yes, but there is a big misunderstanding about secularism. Initially, the spirit of secularism is to accept all religions, to show tolerance. Then, I would say that we are in a world in search of meaning, in search of symbols. If there is a return to religion today, let’s make sure it’s for the better and not for the worse. As a personality, I keep my humanist political convictions. As everyone knows, I also have Armenian origins from my father, from my mother. My grandparents arrived here [NDLR : à Lyon] in 1922. We know what it is to have suffered martyrdom when we are a Christian people. It’s part of me and my story. And since I speak of my ancestors, I imagine their joy, even if they are no longer there, alas. When they arrived, when they settled in this city, when they were welcomed with so much brotherhood… For all these reasons, it all had to come together in a very short time and I answered yes without hesitation.

How did you prepare, in what state of mind are you a few hours away from this ceremony of the Vow of the Aldermen?

MA: As usual, it’s the music that guides me. Music is a paradox that intimately brings together spirituality and sensuality. Take away one or the other and you take away all of its essence. The whole history of music begins with religion, whether in early societies, where the sorcerer was invested with the power to communicate with spirits through his musical instrument; or later in the development of Gregorian chant. Or even the polyphonies that were born in Europe in cathedrals because we had made resonant places. I don’t intend to give a lecture on music and the sacred, but for me music is sacred and sweet. Not only is music in all religions, but in some way it connects them all today. This is the interesting message that I would like to convey, especially to young people.

What does the Fourvière site represent for you?

MA: I would spontaneously go for a walk on the Fourvière hill when I was oddly not well, when I was a little nostalgic. When you are a teenager, sometimes you ask yourself questions. I went up to Fourvière, I looked and it calmed me down. There is something that goes beyond the Catholic religion. The figure of the Virgin Mary also exists everywhere. Among Muslims, it is Myriam, the most common first name in mixed couples. For me, I may even make it go back before Mary, to this primordial female figure, Isis among the Egyptians. Mary is for me a symbol more than catholic. She is perhaps the symbol of a woman who can save the world. This idea pleases me.

EVENT | The 2022 Aldermen’s Vow renewal ceremony can be followed live this Thursday, September 8 from 5:30 p.m. on the RCF Lyon antenna.

Wish of the Aldermen 2022: André Manoukian chosen to present the shield | RCF Lyon