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Ornament, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA.

That’s San Francisco City Hall reflected in the ornament (along with your host and her partner’s camera phone). We were there (Davies) a few weeks back for a performance of John Adams’ El Niño, a gorgeous, gorgeous re-imagining of the nativity oratorio.

I didn’t write much about it at the time because I returned from that date (the first in a long while) to find an egregiously hi-jacked blog, which is to say other (quite cranky) folks’ messages were being broadcast out of this URL frequency, and not mine. I spent the better part of the rest of that night, ’til the wee hours and on into the weekend, back and forth with the good folks at my blog host trying to un-hijack it. Instead, I would rather have been waxing lyrical about the oratorio, about what a job it must be to try to set to music the kinda challenging event of the annunciation and/or sex with god, or at least insemination by god, or whatever you want to call the whole big ole conception of the Baby Jesus thing. John Adams’ take on it, musically, is as tremendous as it ought to be.

Someone videotaped their videotape (or DVD) of the very passage where the incomparable Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (and, eventually, 2:30 in, a big ole chorus) sings the event. Three angelic countertenor “angels” sing following it, and Dawn Upshaw (the other Mary) appears at the close of this clip:

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Street faces, Berkeley, CA.

Art is everywhere all the time, but it sure has an extra pizzazz, an extra je ne sais quois, when you find it staring back up at you from the pavement.