LA Phil Blog

American in Paris

American in Paris

Countertenor Brian Cummings (third from right) and the rest of the cast of The Gospel According to the Other Mary, along with Gustavo Dudamel, director Peter Sellars and composer John Adams, take their bows in Paris after the piece's premiere in the City of Lights.

My love affair with the city of Paris began in 2001 when I participated in the world premiere of John Adams' oratorio El Niño. Barely 21 years old, I was astounded by the beauty of the city and the richness of French culture.

In 2004 I decided to move here. In 9 years of living in Paris, as in any foreign culture, one goes through many stages of integration. For me, the first stage consisted of trying to fit in and be seen as a local. Trying desperately to learn the codes of behavior and language and the exact phrase to get the bread you want at the boulangerie. Then came a slow acceptance that it's perfectly fine to be seen as a foreigner and then a transition into truly celebrating my own heritage and culture as well as that of my culture of adoption.

This latter phase is where I find myself on this tour with the LA Phil. It is with immense joy that I find myself again premiering a work of John Adams in this city I have grown to love. This quintessentially American production celebrates the best our culture has to offer. Sharing it with my friends and colleagues in Paris and with the French public brings me much happiness.

It makes me proud of my American roots and happy that the French have developed a very real and deep appreciation of the genius and power of John Adams' music.