LA Phil Blog

Mountaintop Musings

Mountaintop Musings

Nathan Medley (far right) consoles Mary Magdalene (Kelley O'Connor) with his fellow countertenors (Daniel Bubeck and Brian Cummings) in a scene from John Adams' The Gospel According to the Other Mary


Who knew John Adams could sound so good with a little extra cheese in the belly?

That's a random observation about performing The Gospel According to the Other Mary in Switzerland, sure. But, after our Lucerne experience, I can honestly say that "those hills were alive with the sound of music."

As we round the half way point of our tour and head onward to the discerning French it is a perfect moment for this kind of reflection. Two wonderful observations come to mind: 

First, a concert hall is the space where the music lives. It is the home for the music. And just the like the revolving hotels of tour, the music takes on a different life in each space. The intimate and personal location of the Barbican gave a group dynamic to the piece that unveils the humanity of The Gospel According to the Other Mary, while the expanse and blooming acoustic of the KKL emphasized the musical depth of a brilliantly layered composition. The first sounds out of the principles mouths in our initial rehearsal brought little smirks to our faces as the reverberation pulsed in the hall. The pulse became a steady beat that unraveled a rewarding performance for the Swiss.

A panoramic shot of Lucerne taken by Nathan Medley. The KKL concert hall is at the right.


Secondly, the audience is on the same journey as the performers. When performing an epic and emotional journey of this magnitude the audience is invited to enter a new world with the characters. As a mostly American cast this is interesting because of the cross cultural dynamic. Yet, Lucerne was proof of the transcendent power of music, especially that of John Adams, to overcome oceans and mountains. The Lucerne audience were present and appreciative companions on the journey through the tail of hardship and rebirth. I will travel down the road of The Other Mary with our friends at the KKL anytime.

Now we take our own, literal journey to Paris. A new adventure awaits.